John Montanari: Music lovers have never had it better

Glenn Carstens-Peters/StockSnap

Glenn Carstens-Peters/StockSnap Glenn Carstens-Peters/StockSnap

Vilius Kukanauskas/via Pixabay

Vilius Kukanauskas/via Pixabay Vilius Kukanauskas/via Pixabay

Published: 06-10-2024 6:24 PM

I feel for Raymond Mahoney and other lifelong music lovers who lament the passing of the compact disc era [“Library decimates classical CDs,” Gazette, June 7]. Of course, changes in sound-reproduction technology have been occurring since the wax cylinder was replaced by the Victrola. Wasn’t it just 40 years ago that similar laments were sung as the vinyl long-playing record was being quickly supplanted by the new digital disc? LP, CD, sunrise, sunset …

But take heart, friends. If you were to lean into the new tech even a little, you will find that for music lovers, things have never been better. There are numerous apps that provide virtually the entire extant recorded catalogue in CD or superior sound quality for the cost of a Netflix subscription, and which can be linked to existing music systems. You don’t have to spend a bundle to access this musical cornucopia, though you can splurge if you want depending on budget and needs.

When our tiny town got zippy broadband in 2019 (thank you, Shutesbury Broadband Committee), I invested in a music-streaming system that it now practically takes a crowbar to extricate me from. Literally at my fingertips, I can choose among brand new releases, amazing obscurities and just about every favorite old recording of the classical canon performed by the immortals. Many titles available to stream can no longer be found on CD. And they sound great.

Change in the delivery of entertainment can be disruptive, whether it’s a change in sound reproduction, movie distribution, even public radio program schedules — don’t ask me how I know this. But in this case, I wouldn’t change back to the old way for all the CDs on earth, most of which I can still access without leaving my sofa. Given how many people I know who don’t even own a CD player anymore, I’m not surprised that the Jones Library, which used to call me for classical CD recommendations, would rethink its allocation of its limited space. OK, now back to my music … The author is the former music director of WFCR Public Radio, now part of the New England Public Media empire.

John Montanari