The Sound of History, Adelaide Festival 2020. Photo © Adam Forte

Sacred Cow

To hell with masterpieces says Phillip Scott

I have a bone to pick with masterpieces. Like Donald Trump in a presidential debate, the damn things barge in and take over. Every year they produce some flimsy justification. This year it was Beethoven’s 250th birthday, so masterpieces were thick on the ground. The little buggers keep infiltrating programs in orchestral music, opera, and to a lesser extent solo recitals and chamber music. They are a menace!

2020 is the centenary of the birth of the American Harold Shapero, the Englishman Geoffrey Bush, and the Italian Bruno Maderna. A...