Music Criticism Today – The »Quartet of Critics«

Musicians and critics are not natural enemies, even if the opposite has often been asserted. There have been times when critics and musicians argued with each other about new works and then, like Eduard Hanslick and Johannes Brahms, peacefully played the piano, with four hands. Much has changed since then, both for the artist and for the critic.

Nowadays, musicians actively woo their fans on Twitter and Instagram, and the critics, for their part, give them colorful tips, portraits, rankings, playlists, and bouquets of recommendation on all network and print channels. New online magazines, web radios, and blogs are launched almost every week. However, a critical discussion only takes place in exceptional cases.

But what does the audience expect from the music critic? What is the music business? Which new forms will music criticism have to develop, which old habits does it need to throw overboard? In light of these questions, an institution such as the Quarterly Critic’s Choice of the PdSK is becoming increasingly relevant.

Since 2010, the association’s jurors have also appeared in public. They sit down in groups of three or four, as a trio or as a quartet, to discuss a work live in front of an audience and to compare different recorded interpretations. The »Quartet of Critics« is always assembled differently, depending on the piece and genre in question. The jurors of the pop and rock music juries discuss new releases or current topics. Classical music jurors usually discuss different interpretations of a piece of music that is currently the focus of the respective festival program and present excerpts of older reference recordings for comparison.

This »Quartet of Critics« has become a brand; it is invited to music festivals across Germany, from the Baltic coast to southern Germany. From 2011 to 2015, the quartet of critics was a regular guest on Deutschlandfunk Kultur. This new talk show format has already met 97 times in 35 cities.

Ten rounds of critics were planned for 2020, including in Berlin, Essen, Leipzig, and Frankfurt am Main, all of which, without exception, had to be canceled due to the corona crisis.