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Patric Standford's recent 'Provocative Thoughts'


Legislation in the financial services industry in UK (and perhaps also elsewhere) embraces a 'right to change your mind' that permits purchasers of financial products a period of reflection in which to apply to cancel them if so desired. My reference to this here is not necessarily related to a wish to change Mr Standford's mind about Liszt but to the colloquial term for the timescale for such changes of mind -- a 'cooling-off period' -- in this case for a cooling of blood rather than of mind. Having achieved this, I now feel ready to address Mr Standford's remarks about Liszt in what I hope will be a reasonably pragmatic and level-headed manner -- something that I might have found difficult, if not actually impossible, in the immediate aftermath of reading them.

Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt

My initial reaction was one of delight that the doubting Thomas as which our regular St Patrick presents himself here has the broad-minded decency to offer as his opening salvo a declaration that he considers it 'worthwhile asking for the complete works of Liszt'. This short-lived beneficence is then dismissed by his trenchant admission that 'there are surely very few composers accorded the description of "great" who have written so much awful music', which is followed with little or nothing that clarifies which of Liszt's works he considers to be so 'awful', let alone why he feels this way about them. One cannot deny that Liszt's output was less even than that of some other composers, but the baldness of Mr Standford's unexplained and unadorned statement can hardly pass unnoticed, nor should it go unchallenged.

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Copyright © 5 July 2007 Alistair Hinton, Bath UK


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