Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


Moribund Music

Can Classical Music be Saved?

Carolyn Beckingham received her masters in French and Italian from the University of Oxford. She currently works as a freelance researcher and legal interpreter in the French language. Most recently she has been translating books from French for the Iran Liberty Association. She has contributed reviews to Everywoman, has translated several works for Oxfam and SOAS, and is the author of the well received Is Fashion a Woman’s Right?: “This new book on Fashion and its History is brilliant and fascinating. It is a ‘must read’ for all who are interested in style and clothes.” Roy Miles, author of Priceless: a life in art

This book sets out to answer frequently asked questions about the future of classical music. It addresses the question of whether popular music has taken its place and if so, how much this matters; and explores the origins of the split between classical and popular music, the rise of youth culture and the concept of elitism, together with the consequences of these changes. The phenomenon of “crossover” music is addressed, and the arguments in favour of, and against, its use as an introduction to classical music for new audiences are put forward. In a wide-ranging discourse, the author tackles many of the issues that divide music lovers, including audience behaviour and the place of music in schools.

A major focus is on the problems of opera: the accusation that it is inherently sexist, the question of original languages as opposed to translation, surtitles, amplification and production styles. 

This book is essential reading for all those interested in how music plays an essential and informative role in everyday life.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-276-1
Paperback Price: £17.95 / $32.50
Release Date: December 2008
Page Extent / Format: 224 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No



Chapter 1
What's Wrong with Music?

Chapter 2
A Century of Cultural Earthquakes

Chapter 3
Crossover Music — Help or Hindrance?

Chapter 4
Opera — A Special Case?

Chapter 5
Are Schools the Solution?

Chapter 6
Where Do We Go From Here?


“For music lovers and general readers, Beckingham, a freelance researcher and legal interpreter, investigates whether classical music is dying, and whether popular music has taken its place. She examines the origins of the split between classical and popular music, the rise of youth culture and the fall of elitism, and the consequences of these changes. She also discusses crossover music and whether it helps or hurts the problem, the popular attraction of opera, and teaching classical music in the schools.” Reference & Research Book News

“Mark Simpson, BBC Young Musician of the Year 2006:
“I’ve stood in front of audiences, including at the Sage [Gateshead], and you just see a sea of white hair. When I watched the final on TV, I could see only a few people who were my age – and they were mostly my friends. It annoys me so much that classical music is pigeonholed as something aristocratic and uptight, snobby and above itself. Ultimately things will have to change, because once the current group of concertgoers are dead, no one will be listening.” Guardian, 17 July 2006

Chris Schuler, Chairman of the Authors’ Club, has mentioned the book in his blog “Notes in the Margin”. The link is:

Books can be ordered by phone or online

Ordering in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America and Rest of the World

Gazelle Book Services
Direct sales tel.: +44 (0)1524 528500; email:
Web ordering:

Ordering in the United States and Canada
Independent Publishers Group (IPG)
Direct sales tel.: (800) 888-4741
Web ordering:

Bookseller Ordering
Information is provided under the Resources tab.

eBook Ordering
e-Book type availability can be sourced via by book title. Kindle availability is via Amazon .com and sites.