Reflecting On iTunes’ Past And Future In The Classical Sphere

A screenshot from the first-ever iteration of iTunes in 2001.

Gone are the days when our listening loyalties were limited to repertoire we already knew, whether it be local symphony recordings or famed performances like Jacqueline du Pré’s iconic Elgar Cello Concerto.

With Apple’s macOS update ending iTunes’ reign and the giving rise to streaming giants like Spotify or Apple Music, we classical-music listeners can look back on how iTunes helped make our favorite symphonies and musicians come to life at home, while also looking forward to where music streaming will take us.

This interesting article reflects on the evolution of iTunes over the past couple decades:

“In the beginning, and for many years after, there was only music, because music was the only option given the technology of the time… [Then] Apple began to pile on early; it added audiobooks support in 2002, then TV shows, music videos, and podcasts in 2005.”

This “pile” that Barrett refers to as a “toxic hellstew of technical cruft,” however, opened doors for a new concert-going experience, allowing us to watch our favorite performances by the Berlin, New York or Vienna Philharmonics with nothing more than a computer or iPod at home. Even the convenience of having all our media collected onto a single device—rather than various discs—was revolutionary at one point!

But what does iTunes’ demise mean for classical music’s future?

One of Spotify’s numerous Classical playlists.

Discovery—with the prominence of streaming services emphasizing exploration, we have more access than ever to discover new composers, different ensembles, rising soloists and more music in general. There also comes greater sharing capability with their open-access platforms and social media connectivity. More importantly, it welcomes younger generations of listeners that are growing up with these services. Who knows—someday, they may unknowingly stumble upon those same, familiar recordings you once treasured and see it as something new.


This article was written by Alison Huh, one of Pacific Symphony’s Marketing & PR interns. Alison will be a sophomore at University of California, Berkeley, where she studies English. She was formerly a member of Pacific Symphony’s Youth Orchestra, playing flute.

Reflecting On iTunes’ Past And Future In The Classical Sphere

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