The Shapiro Files

Friday, July 29, 2005

Hope for Humankind?

Along the lines of my previous blog entry about Oprah Winfrey’s “Summer of Faulkner” Book Club selections, there is yet more evidence that high art is still viable and popular in our culture. Last month for a limited time, the BBC made new recordings of all nine Beethoven symphonies available as free MP3 downloads from their website. (Yes, I downloaded several of these excellent recordings myself.) Well, guess what? The number of downloads (1.4 million) far exceeded all other music recordings available on the Internet, included Paul McCartney’s Live8 performance of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (the best-selling online track of all time). Of course, the Beethoven recordings were free. But holy moly, we’re talking Beethoven here — not U2, not Gwen Stefani, and not Coldplay. But Beethoven! And if that isn’t enough to get you feeling a little better about the world, even classical music downloads available for a fee (by way of iTunes and other services) are doing surprisingly well.

Check out this article from The Guardian for all the details.


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