On The Gramophone Blog, James McCarthy writes:
All composers, but particularly composers who are salaried by academic institutions, need to be aware of their audience … If the composer is writing music as an academic pursuit then they should go into it fully aware that this is what they are doing, and not be crushed when the world doesn’t want to storm the concert hall demanding to hear their music. If they are writing music to say something about themselves and the world we live in today, then they need to be aware that what they say needs to be a least partly intelligible to the average concert-goer.
It is academically interesting to ask a cellist to pluck their A string with their teeth while de-tuning their C string with their right hand and slapping the body of the instrument with a kipper with their left. That is an expansion of orchestral technique, and it is certainly original. But as soon as you transport the kipper-slapping cellist out of the sphere of academia, put them in a concert hall and ask people to cough-up 25 quid and give up an evening of their lives to come and listen to them, the paradigm shifts.
Because this is why composers go into academia: to research new extended techniques involving seafood. Allow me to retort with a Steve Jobs quote:
This is what customers pay us for–to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them to use our computers. We’re supposed to be really good at this. That doesn’t mean we don’t listen to customers, but it’s hard for them to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it. Take desktop video editing. I never got one request from someone who wanted to edit movies on his computer.