As a rule, I hate unnecessary volume levels at most concert venues. And I am no fan of recorded music that is compressed to sound as loud as a TV commercial. So it is with some ambivalence that I read No Fortissimo? in the New York Times this weekend.
My mother was a professional violin player some years ago, and she attributes her hearing damage to not protecting her ears when seated too close to the trumpet section. I don’t know, but I do know that I basically avoid amplified musical performances of any kind due to the fact that nobody seems empowered to control the volume in any sensible way. I do understand the need for some sound reinforcement, and when it is done tastefully, that’s OK. But that, too, is becoming rare.
But what will become of the symphony without fortissimo? That’s a tough one, but I’d rather see one cannon of music pushed to the back shelf than the canons of music making us all deaf, ruining everything for everybody.