A Philosophy for Classical Music: A New Book by Sir Roger Scruton

The concept

A lucid and readable account of the intrinsic value of classical music and of the philosophy it embodies and upon which it depends, written for the managers of, advocates for, and participants in classical music who are struggling both to understand and explain its relevance and to chart its path toward a future in our rapidly-changing, modern world.

The author

Sir Roger Scruton is a writer and philosopher who has published more than forty books on philosophy, aesthetics, and politics – including the widely-acclaimed The Aesthetics of Music, another aesthetical and critical survey of music titled Understanding Music, and two books on Wagner, Death-Devoted Heart and The Ring of Truth. Widely translated, he is a fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He is also a founding and Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Future Symphony Institute. He teaches in both England and America and is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC. He is currently teaching an MA program in Philosophy for the University of Buckingham.

The need for this book

Many of the topics proposed for this book are ones that Sir Roger has treated at great length and with considerable skill elsewhere – in books that have not yet been noticed or appreciated by the classical music audience, to whom they were not necessarily addressed. While Sir Roger’s previous books on musical subjects have considered music from an aesthetical standpoint, or else have explored the philosophy inherent in specific compositions, none of them have addressed the current cultural issues and challenges facing orchestras and the practice of live classical music today.

The most pressing problem for music in our modern age is a philosophical one. We are struggling to understand and explain how and why we should value it. Our attempts to quantify the value of music using math and science can only measure the tangential and tangible effects of music, which we scramble hard to find and measure. But only philosophy can take us into that difficult realm of the intangible and transcendental and speak to us about music directly. Only philosophy can answer the difficult questions with which the modernist worldview challenges our classical music tradition, and to which those who answer for classical music can find no effective reply.

Those charged with the tasks of managing our musical institutions and of providing the vision that will guide them through our present into their future, those who make important decisions for the sake of the communities our musical institutions serve, those with the awesome responsibility of discharging accumulated wealth through foundations dedicated to the flourishing of art and culture, and the general public with whom power ultimately lies to demand that music be a part of their children’s education, to participate in their communities’ musical life, and to support our musical institutions, are in desperate need of this book. It is absolutely critical that they come to understand thoroughly and to speak clearly and effectively about the value and nature of our tradition of making and listening to music.

The need for your help

Our goal is to raise $35,000 to reserve the time it will take Sir Roger to pen our book and to secure a commitment from a reputable publisher. We have already received a gracious lead gift of $10,000. We are well on our way, but your gift of $100 or more will help to make this book a reality. Your gift of $500 or more will reserve your copy, inscribed and signed by Sir Roger.

Please join us in making this very tangible – and enduring – offering to public discourse and to professional and scholarly thought about the nature and future of live classical music:

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