Requiem for Shakespeare Beethoven

December 29, 2006

People in the Dallas area might know what I’m talking about already. No, it hasn’t anything to do with the death of culture, but it might as well be.

I just received an e-mail saying that Shakespeare Beethoven, a store in the Dallas Galleria, will be closing after 25 years. It was bad enough to see Uncle Tai’s (a wonderful Chinese restaurant) leave a few years ago, giving me one less place to nourish my gullet in the Galleria. Now, I have lost a place where I can nourish my soul.

The e-mail itself even had an air of sadness in its simplicity:

    After 25 years in business Shakespeare Beethoven is closing its doors.
    Please visit us one more time before we go.

    Bring a printout of this e-mail to receive 50% off your purchase.

    Come this weekend and say good bye!

    Your friends at Shakespeare Beethoven.

As some of you may know, or may have guessed already, Shakespeare Beethoven is a book and music store. I will say that I am in shock, but perhaps not surprise. My wife and I actually went to the Galleria yesterday in search of some good post-Christmas sales, and we made our usual visit to Shakespeare Beethoven. In fact, as we approached it yesterday, I said something to her like, “I’m surprised it’s still there.” Unfortunately, my sardonic quip seemed unintentionally prophetic.

Although I liked to wander the “Shakespeare” part of the store, I paid even closer attention to the “Beethoven” section. Most music stores hardly bother with classical, except maybe for compilations with titles like “Mozart for Your Morning Commute.” Fortunately, Barnes & Noble and Borders are much better, though Borders stores actually have better classical and opera selections overall. Pound for pound, however, Shakespeare Beethoven is practically peerless. On my first visit to scope out Texas in 1998, my sister-in-law took me to Shakespeare Beethoven, where I found two recordings that I couldn’t find elsewhere (both with compositions by Richard Strauss, which should be no surprise to those who know me well). Following that visit, I developed a fond affection for the store, and I have been impressed with the attention given to the classical and opera selection there. It is also the place where I had the encounter that I mention in my posting about Zune vs iPod (see the third paragraph). This sad news also reminds me of the stories about Tower Records going out of business a few months ago, which I also mention in the earlier posting.

Anyway, I won’t go on some tirade about the finer things in life disappearing and philistinism taking over (though it’s certainly tempting… see my first paragraph). I can’t mistaken my sadness about the closing of Shakespeare Beethoven for evidence of such trends, especially since philistinism has haunted us since the beginning of time. Even though Shakespeare Beethoven will be gone, I can only hope that what it represents will be respected (or, even better, loved).


4 Responses to “Requiem for Shakespeare Beethoven”

  1. Jason Says:

    An appropriate blog posting, from Alex Ross.

    I agree with what he says about EW, and his disappointment at EW’s lack of coverage of classical and opera resonates with me. In fact, I would like to chime in about Rolling Stone for simlar reasons; their articles are quite in-depth and well-written. I know that classical and opera are not their strong suits, but a couple of good writers on their staff could easily make those genres sound as exciting as others.


    Classical and opera are as exciting as other genres.

  2. […] minor Op. 64 is my favorite of all of Tchaikovsky’s works.  I first fell in love with it in Shakespeare Beethoven & Company in Dallas’s Galleria mall when I was a freshman in high school.  And as I ponder sleep, […]

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