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Thread: Interview with Norman Lebrecht, writer of many books on Classical Music

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    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    Default Interview with Norman Lebrecht, writer of many books on Classical Music

    https://jewish.ru/ru/interviews/articles/192978/
    [Russian language can be easily translated into English in Chrome]
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    Be careful with Norman Lebrecht; there are many fallacies in his writing. He fancies himself as an expert but his book on conductors, which I bought 3 years ago, is full of things he's simply made up. I remember his infamous obituary when Carlos Kleiber died entitled, "Carlos Kleiber: not a great conductor". When I challenged him on this a couple of years ago he denied having written that; I made the assumption that an editor had done it based on what he'd actually written. Anyway, it angered a lot of people and he actually barked at me, via internet message, "I didn't do it; you take that back"!! Astonishing. Here it is in print, on the public record. Make up your own minds:

    http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrech...L-kleiber.html

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    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    As someone who's written numerous articles for newspapers, I can confirm that the article title is often not the one given by the writer, but rather concocted by the editor. If the editor doesn't really absorb or understand the content of the article...

    I agree to say one should read Lebrecht with a grain of salt handy, but that obituary is on the whole fair and positive in its assessment, and the title is very misleading as to the content.

    The most infamous title along these lines was "Who Cares if You Listen?", given to an article by Milton Babbitt, which was not his title and was again highly misleading as to the article's content.
    Last edited by Knorf; May-20-2020 at 00:24.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    As someone who's written numerous articles for newspapers, I can confirm that the article title is often not the one given by the writer, but rather concocted by the editor. If the editor doesn't really absorb or understand the content of the article...

    I agree to say one should read Lebrecht with a grain of salt handy, but that obituary is on the whole fair and positive in its assessment, and the title is very misleading as to the content.

    The most infamous title along these lines was "Who Cares if You Listen?", given to an article by Milton Babbitt, which was not his title and was again highly misleading as to the article's content.
    Yes, the editor would have had a say - but that site doesn't look big enough to actually have an Editor so remote from the contributor. "The Lebrecht Weekly" was his column; given that, you'd think he would have reviewed before publication. If he felt strongly enough about it there was always next week's "Lebrecht's Weekly" to settle the matter!! In his book on conducting he doesn't have really anything much to say about either of the Kleibers - and they were both very talented and influential. I can see Kleiber today in Kirill Petrenko, for example!! Eric Kleiber was a conductor who was prepared to take on 'modernist' texts like "Lulu", which upset the powers that be. A brave man of great integrity he wasn't having a bar of bullying and coercion for the latest fads and ideologies in Germany.

    Would that we had these brave souls today to resist the zeitgeist and its collective enforcement of ideology.
    Last edited by Christabel; May-20-2020 at 01:04. Reason: One 'l' not enough!

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christabel View Post
    Be careful with Norman Lebrecht; there are many fallacies in his writing. He fancies himself as an expert but his book on conductors, which I bought 3 years ago, is full of things he's simply made up. I remember his infamous obituary when Carlos Kleiber died entitled, "Carlos Kleiber: not a great conductor". When I challenged him on this a couple of years ago he denied having written that; I made the assumption that an editor had done it based on what he'd actually written. Anyway, it angered a lot of people and he actually barked at me, via internet message, "I didn't do it; you take that back"!! Astonishing. Here it is in print, on the public record. Make up your own minds:

    http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrech...L-kleiber.html
    Lebrecht hated Karajan and anyone who had anything to do with him (so Abbado and Kleiber were never liked, for example). His 'Clapped Out legacy of Karajan' piece was one of the biggest piles of shite I've ever read.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices...ic-805141.html
    Last edited by Merl; Jun-24-2020 at 23:29.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    The most infamous title along these lines was "Who Cares if You Listen?", given to an article by Milton Babbitt, which was not his title and was again highly misleading as to the article's content.
    Although the title isn’t Babbitt’s, it’s not terribly misleading since Babbitt suggests, in the midst of a thicket of almost incomprehensible academese:

    “And so, I dare suggest that the composer would do himself and his music an immediate and eventual service by total, resolute, and voluntary withdrawal from this public world to one of private performance and electronic media, with its very real possibility of complete elimination of the public and social aspects of musical composition.”

    Of course Babbitt also suggests that the authors of such music should be paid very well anyway, since they are after all “scientists.”



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    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    KenOC, that quote is not fairly paraphrased as "who cares if you listen."

    On the contrary, Babbit is saying that there's nothing wrong with serving a specific interested audience, instead of a general one. And we should all here on TC be grateful that this is true, lest even the little 3% of our market share be taken from us.

    In any case, the article is perfectly readable, and there's much more context to it than merely the paragraph you quote.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    Lebrecht hated Karajan and anyone who had anything to do with him (so Abbado and Kleiber were never liked, for example). His 'Clapped Out legacy of Karajan' piece was one of the biggest piles of shite I've ever read.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices...ic-805141.html
    I don't think Lebrecht can be trusted to write anything truthful - largely because he makes things up and simply doesn't know. He should be so lucky to be as successful as HvK. (Cue Kylie Minogue!!)
    Last edited by Christabel; Jul-21-2020 at 05:08.

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