The Crisis of Classical Music in America: Lessons from a Life in the Education of Musicians


The Crisis of Classical Music in America by Robert Freeman focuses on solutions for the oversupply of classically trained musicians in America, problem that grows ever more chronic as opportunities for classical musicians to gain full-time professional employment diminishes year upon year. An acute observer of the professional music scene, Freeman argues that music schools that train our future instrumentalists, composers, conductors, and singers need to equip their students with the communications and analytical...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (4) from $84.73   
  • New (3) from $84.73   
  • Used (1) from $85.95   
The Crisis of Classical Music in America: Lessons from a Life in the Education of Musicians

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$31.49 price
(Save 30%)$44.99 List Price


The Crisis of Classical Music in America by Robert Freeman focuses on solutions for the oversupply of classically trained musicians in America, problem that grows ever more chronic as opportunities for classical musicians to gain full-time professional employment diminishes year upon year. An acute observer of the professional music scene, Freeman argues that music schools that train our future instrumentalists, composers, conductors, and singers need to equip their students with the communications and analytical skills they need to succeed in the rapidly changing music scene. This book maps a broad range of reforms required in the field of advanced music education and the organizations responsible for that education.

Featuring a foreword by Leonard Slatkin, music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, The Crisis of Classical Music in America speaks to parents, prospective and current music students, music teachers and professors, department deans, university presidents and provosts, and even foundations and public organizations that fund such music programs. This book reaches out to all of these stakeholders and argues for meaningful change though wide-spread collaboration.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Classical Music Today
If you’re planning on going to music school or if you’re the parent of a child who is thinking of majoring in music, I’d highly suggest reading this book. And if you’re on the faculty or in administration at a music school, I strongly recommend that you read this book. Changes in the way we do things need to be made, and Dr. Freeman’s recommendations would be a great place to start.
Renee Fleming
It is crucial that we begin to reexamine the mission of traditional classical music education. As I tour the country and meet hundreds of young aspiring singers, it’s disheartening to ponder how few will actually be able to earn a living in their chosen profession. Who better than Robert Freeman, whom I have known since I studied piano with his aunt as a child, to take an honest look at how we educate musicians and offer solutions for making the arts more relevant today?
John Harbison
Robert Freeman, from his vantage point as performer, scholar, and educator offers some hard truth in The Crisis of Classical Music in America, his comprehensive, quasi-autobiographical study of music in America. He focuses especially on a false promise made by our schools and conservatories – their claim that they are properly preparing young musicians for the music careers at hand. Freeman insists that the “everyone can be a star” approach must end, that training with opportunity. This new paradigm, so effectively introduced by Freeman while he was director of the Eastman School, requires new thinking―practical, realistic, tough, but thanks to the author’s inveterate optimism, confident.
Don M. Randel
Robert Freeman’s long and distinguished career at the highest levels of music making and teaching enable him to give a clear-eyed account of a world that has changed irrevocably. Everyone who participates in that world should pay close attention to his observations and advice.
Joseph Horowitz
No music educator has been more prescient or humane than Bob Freeman in confronting the myriad challenges of our transitional moment in American musical culture.
Bryce Jordan
America’s university music schools and free-standing conservatories are turning out more and better musicians than ever before. Sadly, talented young people hoping to make lifetime careers in music are finding it increasingly difficult to secure employment that yields a decent livelihood. Robert Freeman, who has given a great deal of thought to this dilemma, now offers his imaginative and educationally sound ideas on improving the situation.
James Moeser
Robert Freeman is a thought leader in music education, having led three of America’s most distinguished arts institutions. America’s music schools and conservatories are the best in the world, as evidenced by the glut of foreign students who compete for a place in one of them. The irony is that this comes at the moment of the almost complete demise of public school arts education in the United States. Major arts institutions in America–symphony orchestras and opera companies–are fighting for their very survival. It is a truly Dickensian moment, the best and the worst of times.

What is the future for professional musicians in America? The Crisis of Classical Music in America offers important advice for parents of students contemplating a musical career; for those students as they prepare for a college degree; for music faculty; and ultimately for the deans, provosts, and presidents of our institutions of higher learning. This is a must read for anyone who cares about the future of music in America.

Larry R. Faulkner
This book delivers on its core premise, which is to offer a critique of contemporary musical training and education and advice on improved approaches. But it is also autobiography, wide-ranging social commentary, and a critique of American higher education. All of this is delivered by one of the most important living leaders in music and music education―a genuine authority, an active thinker always, a senior statesman who observes on the basis of rich experience, but is not trapped by the past. It is a valuable book.
Performing Arts Monterey Bay
Freeman is the most complete ‘package’ of musician/educator/administrator I know. He understands the issues in greater depth and with greater clarity than the majority of his colleagues. Perhaps annoyingly to some, he doesn’t hesitate to articulate improvements that would make any musical institution work more efficiently, economically and with greater impact on the constituencies and communities they serve. Yet, in one chapter of the book he describes his own education, 'the better for the reader to identify my own prejudices on the subject.'. . . .Most of Freeman’s chapters profer advice, respectively to parents, students, faculty, deans, provosts and presidents, and foundations. When parents wonder if their child can really make a living as a musician, Freeman says, 'You can if, while still a student, you can begin to compare your own unique skill set with those of your competitors.' These are of course life lessons and, if I may say, refreshingly retold.
As its title suggests, this book exposes a serious situation, one Freeman is especially qualified to address.A graduate of Harvard and Princeton, he served as director of the prestigious Eastman School of Music, president of New England Conservatory, and dean of the College of Fine Arts, University of Texas.But he is also a successful performer, so he is able to offer an insightful assessment of the world of classical music as a professional musician as well as an academic insider. He examines in depth how universities and conservatories are graduating numerous fine performers, conductors, and music scholars who endure arduous training only to find, upon graduation, that few job opportunities exist. Freeman issues a clarion call for honesty and realism from the educators and other stakeholders who help music students decide where and what to study and what to expect.Thinking outside the box, he offers constructive advice for everyone from parents and students to deans and provosts who seek to improve conditions. He also suggests ways of enhancing music’s benefit to society.This is an invaluable resource for potential and current music students, music professors, administrators, and professional performers. Summing Up: Essential. All readers.
Midwest Book Review
Any involved in music or music education will find fascinating and revealing this survey revealing how an overabundance of classically-trained musicians in America is causing employment issues for all. It considers the underlying causes of the dilemma, maintains that music schools need to include wider education if they are to succeed in changing the poor results for classically-trained musicians after graduation, and it considers a range of reforms in education.
American Record Guide
Along with wisdom that only a leader like him can have, I like much of what he says in passing. For example, he points out that though music is more widely disseminated than ever before and more people are studying it, the range before and more people are studying it, the range of interpretation has actually narrowed . The standards are higher than ever, but few are willing to take risks or put much personality into their playing. He also mentions that music historians (his training) have contributed to that by narrowing interpretive possibilities. He says that in any style or period 'there is a broader latitude of dynamic, articulative, and agogic possibilities' than the musical notation can possibly indicate. . . .[Robert] has pointed out problems in a very convincing way–as only a top music educator could do. For that he deserves our thanks.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442233010
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/14/2014
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Freeman is a musicologist, Steinway artist, and a professional musician. Having taught at Princeton and MIT, he served as director of Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester for over two decades. He has also served as president of the New England Conservatory and dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is presently the Susan Menefee Ragan Regents Professor of Fine Arts.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword by Leonard Slatkin
Chapter 1: The Winds of Change
Chapter 2: Where Did Musical Education Come From?
Chapter 3: My Education
Chapter 4: Advice for Parents: Should Your Child Play the Cello?
Chapter 5: Advice for College Music Students: What’s Your Goal … Really?
Chapter 6: Advice for Music Professors: Should All Your Students Aim for Carnegie Hall? Should They All Teach at Harvard?
Chapter 7: Advice for Music Deans: Building Education Programs Appropriate for the New Century
Chapter 8: Advice for Provosts and Presidents: Who Should Lead Your Music School and How Should that Person Lead?
Chapter 9: Advice for Foundation Directors and Civic Leaders: What Do We Do to Balance the Supply of and Demand for Professionally Trained Musicians?
Chapter 10: Epilogue
Appendix I: How to Evaluate Music Faculty
Appendix II: Convocation Address by Robert Freeman
About the Author

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)