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Patric Standford's latest Provocative Thoughts


When considering the various manifestations of present-day musical charlatanry, I wonder what is so special about 'the last two decades' as to attract Mr Standford's watchful eye; there have surely been charlatans among composers and performers since time immemorial. I am not especially convinced that they have become more prevalent or even more egregious in the past 20 years either. I do not presume to speak for Mr Standford, but I suspect that his thoughts may centre around the fact that we hear far more about them than we used to do, given the current widespread employment of those blunt instruments known as PR machines whose effectiveness is so enhanced by recent technological advances in communication.

Mr Standford's citing of certain specific giants is indeed salutary, but it is wise to bear in mind that we have largely come to assume that all such musical giants accordingly acquired a 'household name' status without which their positions of power would have been less unchallenged and their high fees less easily sustainable. This was not always true; Liszt and Alkan were giants and accepted as such by their peers (and, for that matter, by one another), yet only one was accorded such status by the public. There are plenty of other instances of genuine musical giants who did not attract the general recognition merited by their work. Those who held sway were usually those who could most effectively manipulate the publicity machinery of their day to their own advantage.

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Copyright © 30 November 2005 Alistair Hinton, Bath UK


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