The Generosity of Artistic Tradition and Professionalism in the Arts

In my previous post about chamber music in Jacksonville, I made the statement that, in essence, the universities and the Jacksonville Symphony were "subsidizing"  free chamber music concerts throughout the city. To clarify, the musicians from these institutions receive no financial support from their parent organizations for these concerts.

The point is that Jacksonville is blessed with the opportunity to hear excellent performances by musicians on a level audiences would not be able to experience if it did not have two excellent music departments at the two universities, and, even more importantly, if it did not have the Symphony to supply steady employment. Someone has to provide the means to pay the bills, and if it is not the taxpayers, or benefactors, or patrons, or ticket holders, then, there is no music by professionals.

A quick glance at the web sites of the musicians and programs for concerts will inform the audience that all of the musicians, without exception, have been educated at the prime music conservatories of this country with many having advanced degrees, representing many years of study. In addition, all of the musicians have had experience playing in other orchestras, performing under conductors of every stripe and reputation.

Nearly all musicians teach. They do this not only for extra income, but because that is the tradition in the arts: to pass on to the next generation the knowledge of the past. Phillip Glass, the composer, commented that his teacher, Nadia Boulanger was the student of Fauré, who studied with a student of Beethoven. Just three degrees of separation from Beethoven! And, his example is not exceptional. My sister, a concert pianist and professor of music, studied with a student of a student of Liszt! Only two degrees of separation from a great composer and pianistic artist. So, teachers matter. And whom teachers have studied with also matters.

In violin studies as well as piano, there are even schools of playing which are identifiable in the performance styles of musicians going back many generations, such as the Russian School (Leopold Auer), the Belgium School (Ysäye), etc. This is probably true for all instrumentalists. The cognoscenti know about such stylistic details, which adds to their appreciation of artistic tradition and knowledge adding to their understanding of how music is performed.

These are some of the sacred values in the arts, thus demanding, I think, the respect of audiences for musicians who believe it is valuable and important to pass them on to the next generation. There are few professions with such generosity of spirit.

Footnote to my previous post: another important venue for free concerts which I neglected to mention is the Jacksonville Public Library Downtown
Program established by composer and fine arts librarian, Ed Lein. Check the Library web site at for upcoming dates and times.