Audiences Flock to 'Difficult' Contemporary Classical Music

"When Swiss conductor Baldur Brönnimann was a student 25 years ago, 'if you had more than 30 people at a concert it was a failure because it was populist crap.' Today, there are growing signs that contemporary classical music is shrugging off its elitist reputation, with audiences flocking to work previously regarded as austere and impenetrable.

"'It's the weirdest pieces which get the strongest reaction,' says Brönnimann. 'Prometeo by Nono is an extremely difficult piece to listen to--two hours long with no break, either extremely soft or extremely loud, and with the audience in darkness surrounded by the performers--but it gets an amazing response. People are looking for something to get their teeth into.'"

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