FSI at Classical:NEXT

We need a renaissance in food; We must begin to think about the value of our food, not simply its price.

Our cultural heritage is at risk. The knowledge and traditions behind our food are irreplaceable; if we lose them, they won’t come back.

—Carlo Petrini, Founder of Slow Food International


FSI’s Andrew Balio will appear alongside his long-time friend and the award-winning chef of Woodberry Kitchen, Spike Gjerde, at Classical:NEXT’s conference in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on May 19th. Together they will be presenting their ideas on The Slow Music Movement: How the Slow Food Grassroots Movement May Light the Path for Music.

The ideas born out of their deep mutual respect for and fascination with each other’s craft have inspired a collaboration that includes both Culture Monster’s accomplished director David Donnelly and the Manhattan Institute’s erudite fellow Heather Mac Donald. We couldn’t be more excited about the film project that is underway because we believe that it will help to ignite this important discussion in broader circles and to generate new ideas about the way we relate to and understand our art form, both as individuals and communities.

This appearance at Europe’s largest classical music forum next month is an opportunity to get that discussion started early. We hope that you will follow these events and wish us well as we pursue a wider audience for our admittedly specialized message for music.

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Announcing John Borstlap as FSI’s newest senior fellow

I strongly believe in the artistic value and importance of John Borstlap’s work for the classical music culture of today. In my opinion, Borstlap’s idea of a revival of the classical tradition is a much-needed injection into music life, and an important contribution to the development of new creation.
—Jaap van Zweden, Music Director, New York Philharmonic (2018), Dallas Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic

I think he is one of the truly remarkable intellects of our time, a serious and inspired composer, and a person with an unusual grasp of the role of the artist in general, and the composer in particular in the cultural conditions that have developed in modern Europe.
—Roger Scruton

We are honored to count among our friends and now among FSI’s fellows, a great mind from whom we have gained much insight into the thorny problems of musical composition in our modern age. Composer and author John Borstlap is an especially suitable choice for FSI because of the difficulties he has had to overcome in his career. His struggles, we believe, are those with which many living composers (and would-be composers) can identify.

We often describe FSI as a think tank comprised of experts who bring to the conversation great value and insight from outside the world of classical music and the arts. John Borstlap, a prolific and respected composer, actually fits into that mold. Mid-career, he found himself an outsider, banished by the bureaucratically managed and politically guarded musical system in Holland. His crime was that he composed from his heart in way that might be described as harking back to the late romantic period – an affront to the demands of the ruling avant-garde elite of his country. His struggle to survive became perhaps his most formative experience, pressing him into the roles also of a student of politics and a philosopher of music. This we find true of our other fellows, Sir Roger Scruton and Leon Krier, too: they were banished from mainstream conversation by the new orthodoxy of perverse modernist ideology that controls today’s arts, and the identification of which runs as a common thread through our work at FSI.

Borstlap has written, by our estimation, one of the most insightful books on the challenges faced by classical music, The Classical Revolution.In this concise and adept volume, he delves into the many assumptions that the modernist takes for granted such as notions of progress, limitlessness, and what WWII should have taught us. We encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. And we also direct you to his website, where there is more valuable reading posted on a regular basis.

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A New Book About Wagner from FSI’s Sir Roger Scruton

Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung is one of the greatest works of art created in modern times, and it has fascinated both critics and devotees for over a century and a half. No recent study has examined the meaning of Wagner’s masterpiece with the attention to detail and intellectual power that Roger Scruton brings to it in this inspiring account. The Ring of Truth is an exploration of the drama, music, symbolism and philosophy of the Ring from a writer whose knowledge and understanding of the Western musical tradition are the equal of his capacities as a philosopher.

Scruton shows how, through musical connections and brilliant dramatic strokes, Wagner is able to express truths about the human condition which few other creative artists have been able to convey so convincingly. For Wagner, writes Scruton, the task of art is to “show us freedom in its immediate, contingent, human form, reminding us of what it means to us. Even if we live in a world from which gods and heroes have disappeared we can, by imagining them, dramatize the deep truths of our condition and renew our faith in what we are.”

Love, death, sacrifice and the liberation that we win through sacrifice – these are the great themes of the Ring, as they are of this book. Scruton’s passionate and moving interpretation allows us to understand more fully than ever how Wagner conveys his ideas about who we are, and why the Ring continues to be such a hypnotically absorbing work.

Read more at Penguin Books. Watch for it in our bookstore.

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FSI Announces Léon Krier as its newest Senior Fellow

The Future Symphony Institute is greatly honored by this opportunity to announce the appointment of Léon Krier as its newest Senior Fellow. Léon is a tireless champion of conservation, craftsmanship, sustainability, humane scaling, aesthetics, and enduring architectural and urban principles. We gratefully acknowledge the tremendous influence that Léon, through his lifetime of thought and practice, has already had on our understanding of the organic role that classicism plays in the development and functioning of human communities.

Léon Krier represents the best of a new breed of architects in the remarkable way that he elucidates the relationship between our buildings and the institutions of our civilization. He is world-renowned as an architect, an urban planner, and an architectural theorist. Originally from Luxembourg, he was educated in Stuttgart and then in London, and has since held positions at the Royal College of Arts and the Architectural Association there, as well as at both Princeton and Yale here. Notably, he has served as consultant to His Royal Highness, Charles, Prince of Wales since 1987, and from 1988 onwards he has been the masterplanner and architectural coordinator of HRH’s new town of Poundbury.

Léon was the leading figure in the Reconstruction of the European City movement. The Académie Française accordingly awarded him its Silver Medal in 1997 for the clarity and intelligence of his vision for cities, articulated in his book Architecture: Choice Or Fate. The complete body of his theories and his practice of building houses and towns that speak to the human spirit and respond to the patterns and scale of human life is now compiled in his book The Architecture of Community.

Léon is counted chief among the New Classicists. He is himself a great lover of classical music and an accomplished amateur pianist. He has even designed a piano. We are greatly encouraged that Léon is so interested in our work, and we eagerly look forward to our future collaborations and his ongoing influence and inspiration.

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Conservatism and the Conservatory

We’re eager to share with you Roger Scruton’s essay on the important but often neglected relationship between classical music and conservatism. It has been published by the National Review and you can read it either in their print issue from December 21, 2015 or online.

To my way of thinking, there cannot be a coherent conservatism, either in everyday life or in politics, that does not take high culture seriously. It really matters to the future of our societies that classical music should survive, not as a museum exhibit, but as a live tradition of performance and enjoyment, radiating its grace and graciousness across our communities, and providing us all, whether as performers or as listeners, with a sense of the intrinsic value of being here, now and among our fellows. From that primary experience of togetherness, of which music is not the only but surely the most exhilarating instance, countless other benefits flow, in the form of solidarity, mutual support and responsibility, and the growth of real communities.

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