Andante.com, an ambitious web site that included music from some of the world's leading classical-music institutions, shut down permanently this morning.
The demise of the site came two years after it was purchased from its founders by the French record label Naïve. According to Matthew Westphal, the editor of the site's magazine section for most of its history, Naïve told members of the site that it was no longer able to provide the resources to run the site, particularly given recent technical problems.
Andante was founded by attorney Alain Coblence, with funding from Pierre Bergé, the co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent and the former chair of the Paris Opera; it went live in March 2001.
The site's mission was to be no less than the leading classical music site on the Internet—and the leading source for digital classical recordings, a position that was up for grabs in the pre-iTunes era.
In addition to an online store selling the Andante label's archival CDs, it included a web magazine with news, reviews, interviews, and essays from a stable of top critics; worldwide concert listings; a wide-ranging reference section; and a collection of streaming music files from such partners as the Philadelphia Orchestra, London Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic, and Salzburg Festival.
After Naïve bought the Andante label and the site in October 2003, staff and new offerings were sharply reduced, but traffic continued to grow, according to Westphal—in part because of the richness of the site's archives.
"For a while we had the best classical music journalism online," he said. "Were a miracle to happen and Andante ever to be revived, it would still be a great resource."
Ben Mattison is the former managing editor of Andante.com.