Hoaxes of the classical kind
Funny listicle from Tom Service on ze Guardian. My favourites:
An Incomplete History of the Art of Funerary Violin
Individual pieces are one thing, but Rohan Kriwaczek invented an entire genre, a repertoire, a history, and a whole musical subculture, with his 2006 book. Publishers believed it to be a work of studious, historically researched non-fiction. But the fact that the funerary violin is a fake is really beside the point: Kriwaczek’s book is a feat of pseudo-scholarly invention and musical-literary virtuosity that makes you wish that the Guild of Funerary Violinists really did exist.
How Borgesian is that? I must read that one at some point. Imagine if it was about the bassoon.
Haydn’s ‘lost’ piano sonatas
The world of Haydn scholarship was duped in the early 1990s by the supposed discovery of these six masterpieces for solo piano, feted as some of the finest sonatas in Haydn’s canon by the doyen of Haydn-ographers, HC Robbins Landon. But they were revealed to be the work of an extremely clever pasticheur,Winfried Michel. Which – as a New York Times piece from the time says – raises some pretty gigantic existential questions: if these pieces are good enough to be thought to be by Haydn, then aren’t they valuable on their own terms? Or is it only because of the aura of Haydn’s authorship and historical context that they become meaningful? In which case, what is our criteria for judging the immanent qualities of musical works? Why can’t works of brilliant pastiche be as good as the “real” thing, and valued as much by musical culture?
Really interesting questions generated. There’s not enough made of the power of pastiche as yet. We might want to get over the Romantic ideal of supreme originality and have a bit of fun with the known and loved.