Classical Music’s Fight for Survival in a Modern Prague

Prague destined to become the world’s Techno capital while grasping onto its Classical music ancestry.

Reveered for its classical composers, the Czech Republic’s capital, Prague, has seen a massive surge in the popularity of modern House and Dance music, particuarly techno – a branch of electronic dance music. So much so, that Prague has been dubbed the new “World Techno Capital” to-be. The government’s efforts to keep the iconic music of Dvořák, Smetana and Janáček alive in this modern era were met through Czech Radio. In a fight of perserverance, the radio now almost exclusively plays classical music.

Czech Radio remains the country’s only government funded radio, the multitude of other stations remaining private. Our inside source, Ross Supa, a sound engineer and music technician at Czech Radio, comments on the transition from all genres to exclusively classical music. “We used to record a lot of popular music, rock and jazz, but not as much now. Mostly we record classical, as the station only focuses on that type of music now.” This shift hasn’t gone unnoticed either, by the public and those in the music industry. “We’ve seen a large decrease of bands interested in recording in our studios, in Czech Radio.”

This insistence in preserving classical music may seem rather backward, but as a valid part of Czech history and the core of the Prague Conservatoire, the prestigious academy of music where students flock to be classically trained as theatrical artists, its survival remains crucial. With such a classical history, why is techno becoming so popular in the first place? Supa suggests it’s because of the lack of experimentation and freedom to interpret with more classical genres. “Nowadays, anyone can record their own music for a couple of hundred bucks, and it’s theirs. Trying different stuff is impossible with classical music.” With Techno ever on the rise, experimentation and more interpretations of modern styles seem imminent.

As the city surrounding the persistent genre carries on into the dawn of a new era, Czech Radio has another battle to face: the rise in streaming services, such as Spotify and Youtube. “Sooner or later there won’t be any physical albums… just music being played through the streaming services. Regarding the quality of the music, I think the music deserves better.” says Supa. With what seems like a losing battle, is the classical music of the Czech Republic surviving only to be beaten again?

Prehaps not all is lost. When discussing trends in the music industry, Supa remarks that “it depends what you’ve been listening to throughout your life.” The new trend of vinyl records has spread wildly across the world, after leaving the mainstream in 1991. “The new generation is discovering vinyl, so maybe this is some good. Maybe if you start listening to vinyl, you discover completely different sounds.” Maybe this is the same intention with Czech Radio: by focusing solely on classical music, though they cannot guarantee the same level of popularity as Techno, if more people are listening to the genre throughout their lives, prehaps it will make a resurgence, as has vinyl.

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