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David Wright's article on Rob Barnett


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Author Topic: David Wright's article on Rob Barnett  (Read 31350 times)
dyn
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« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2014, 06:05:26 am »

That Britten was homosexual is obviously true (so have been a number of other very eminent composers, for what that may matter Roll Eyes) but for the other accusation there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

Dr Wright may be somewhat confused on points of sexual orientation. His articles on Chopin, Schubert, Elgar and Skryabin (or however one prefers to spell his name >.>), and probably others I haven't read, all imply or state outright that the composer had homosexual tendencies. Among the evidence he cites in support of these assertions is that each of those composers lusted after and, in some cases, bedded a large number of women.  Huh Apparently this is due to a fascination with feminine things which indicates effeminacy, and therefore, homosexuality Huh Huh I am not sure that argument is 100% waterproof.

Yes, looking over a bit of his stuff now, he does seem like something of a crackpot, though I wouldn't call him a fake (my summary dismissals or anyone else's wouldn't be determinative by their mere utterance in any case, - specifics have to be understood and rebutted, - blanket dismissals lack any force).

Besides, I'll admit to a weakness for such characters (especially on the internet) whose provocations often enough aren't without insights, however sullied they might be by this or that inaccuracy, misjudgement, overstatement, impropriety, or whatever.  One just has to be discriminating Shocked.

And I'll admit to having lost patience for such characters quite some time ago, after spending a couple of years on a US political forum (full of Democrats and Republicans slinging unsubstantiated "talking points" and ad hominem attacks at one another to no apparent purpose). Not something I'd recommend to anyone. Wink
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« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2014, 07:16:11 am »


The article states that David Wright "has received his B.Mus and D.Mus by study and examination". The article goes on to say that he also has a "B.D. and a D.D." He has written articles exposing "the nonsense of evolution, how Darwinism led to Fascism....", and that "Malcolm Arnold insisted that Dr. Wright's performance of his Symphony No.4 was the best ever".

In the unlikely event that Wright's qualifications are genuine, the institution which issued them should withdraw them, and itself face investigation as to how he was ever granted these what we may not say here credentials.
But it's a very big "if"; had they been genuine, it would be perfectly possible to look up details of them.

Wright is a what we may not say here.  Pure and simple.  I also doubt that Linda Karen Dowson even exists at all - let alone that she has Grade III Descant Recorder.
Oh, he exists all Wright! By the way, have you noticed the copyright statement at the end of the purported bio of Wright that is credited to that name?(!)...
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ahinton
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« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2014, 07:35:44 am »

David Wright's website contains a biographical essay about him written by one Linda Karen Dowson, M.Mus.
An alter egotist, peut-Ítre?...

The article states that David Wright "has received his B.Mus and D.Mus by study and examination". The article goes on to say that he also has a "B.D. and a D.D."
And he's supposed to have gained a PhD by the same means, too; As I noted aboved, had he these academic qualifications, there would be checkable records of them; has anyone been able to locate any of these? Even if any or all of them are true, however, they would not of themselves make him a good and reliable critic.

He has written articles exposing "the nonsense of evolution, how Darwinism led to Fascism....", and that "Malcolm Arnold insisted that Dr. Wright's performance of his Symphony No.4 was the best ever".
Did he, really? One might wonder why he so "insisted"; was someone challenging his view? and, if so, who and why? Where and when was this performance given? If indeed it did take place, where is the evidence that the composer attended it or that he said or wrote what Wright claims that he did about it?

"Dr. Wright believes that the life style and character of the composer is inherent in some of his music and quotes, as examples Haydn for his wit and diplomacy, Schubert for his laziness and plagiarism, Bruckner for his Catholic spirituality, Elgar for his pride and pomposity and Britten for his homosexuality and pederasty."
But Wright is supposed to have all these music degrees! One doesn't obtain these without researching and submitting dissertations, theses and the like, the preparation of which presumes the inclusion of documentary evidence, usually in the form of the kind of footnotes that are signally absent from Wright's rants. In his frantic and obsessive diatribes against Elgar (to which he has all too frequent knee-jerk recourse in other articles besides those in which Elgar is the subject), he singles out the Cello Concerto for particularly venomous contempt, yet not once does he offer his readers the faintest clue as to where in that work he has contrived to identify Elgar's "pride and pomposity"; even in the composer's Falstaff, is not any sense of pride and pomposity in Shakespeare's character rather than Elgar himself? How strange it might seem that the doubts and confidence crises that beleaguered Elgar from time to time, as noted by many a respected Elgar scholar, seem not to have registered with Wright - until, that is, one realises that they would directly counter Wright's agenda of putting up "pride and pomposity" as the target so that he can shoot Elgar down with the unresearched, unidentified and thus non-existent musical evidence from Elgar's scores!

I am afraid that I cannot take anything written by someone who, apparently, thinks that evolution is "nonsense" or that "Darwinism led to Fascism" seriously.
Can anyone, other than a handful of cranks?

That Britten was homosexual is obviously true (so have been a number of other very eminent composers, for what that may matter Roll Eyes)
Indeed - in fact, someone once said to me that there were so many of them in mid-20th century America that one might almost wonder whether there was something "wrong" with Carter and Sessions(!)...

but for the other accusation there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever.
Indeed - and had Britten been alive to read it, he might well have sued and it would be hard to imagine him losing his case.

"Petty and mean-spirited" Huh Who Huh Huh
Quite!
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ahinton
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« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2014, 07:46:26 am »

Without going back and reviewing the article again, Wright seems to base his negative critique on the following characteristics:

Barnett is an amateur, - an enthusiast, but neither musician or historian.

As such, when describing a composer or musical work he habitually resorts to comparing it/him/her to some other composer(s) or musical work(s) (typically as a hybrid of some combination thereof) without reference to the score or historical context, and has a penchant for often florid metaphor in suggesting the imaginative associations a particular work inspires in him.

He has biases, - likes and dislikes, that insinuate themselves into his writing.

He gets facts wrong.

Wright then elaborates on a long sequence of cherry-picked "case studies" (over a probably 20 year period) where he finds these characteristics alone or in some combination discredit and humiliate Barnett as a reviewer.

It's a somewhat contemptible "hatchet-job" (as I put it above) without consideration of Barnett's positive virtues and talents, but nonetheless Barnett does sometimes less than shine, make questionable judgements, unhelpful comparisons, is obscurantist, excessive, factually inaccurate, and the rest, as Wright catalogs, and every writer has to endure these sorts of attacks from time to time and can learn from them.  Wright duly pointed out some warts, I thought, however underhanded and base the motivation.
Many people minded to do so could pick out flaws in the critiques of all manner of critics - and, as I have stated, Rob Barnett's work is by no means free of these - but the kind of "freedom of speech" that Wright might well cite if challenged in a Court over alleged libel of a living artist no more obligates anyone to speak (or write) as Wright does than it exonerates them from the risk of libel.

The principal point here, however, is (at least to me) that the charge-sheet that Wright issues against Barnett, so far from being an isolated case, is in fact typical of the manner in which he habitually deploys his scabrous literary talents (he seems to have few of any other kind) - a fine illustration of this, indeed. I have no objection in principle to a critic taking another to task in print for any of the issues that you cite above in respect of Barnett, provided that they are genuine and provable, but there is no excuse for such a critic doing that in the manner in which Wright does here - and indeed no reason for it either, other than for the purpose of making the kind of noise that Wright has presumably persuaded himself will get him the sort of attention that he seems to desire.
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« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2014, 07:57:57 am »

. . . had he these academic qualifications, there would be checkable records of them . . .

Don't be so sure about that Mr. H. The last time I contacted my own university they told me that they had no record of my existence. "We do have one former student who bears the same name," was all they would tell me, "but we are certain that he is not you."

And as for Elgar, "pompous" was an epithet very commonly applied to him in the old days. For example I remember very clearly as a youth discussing his music with my great-aunt Maud, born in 1865. "Elgar was a pompous gentleman," she tinkled. (And she was no fool, having served for many years as head mistress of a good school.)

One of my favourite composers, I should add.
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ahinton
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« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2014, 08:00:39 am »

That Britten was homosexual is obviously true (so have been a number of other very eminent composers, for what that may matter Roll Eyes) but for the other accusation there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

Dr Wright may be somewhat confused on points of sexual orientation. His articles on Chopin, Schubert, Elgar and Skryabin (or however one prefers to spell his name >.>), and probably others I haven't read, all imply or state outright that the composer had homosexual tendencies. Among the evidence he cites in support of these assertions is that each of those composers lusted after and, in some cases, bedded a large number of women.  Huh Apparently this is due to a fascination with feminine things which indicates effeminacy, and therefore, homosexuality Huh Huh I am not sure that argument is 100% waterproof.
"Waterproof" or not (and his studious avoidance of evidence provision inclines me to perceive most of it as drowning by numbers without the numbers), it's not actually an "argument" per se at all, in the light of which fact it seems hardly surprising that he provides not a scintilla of proof as to how a composer's alleged sexual tendencies, whatever they may or be and whatever they might be thought to be, manifest themselves in his/her music in identifiable ways; where is one supposed to find the homosexuality in Szymanowski's Concert Overture or Harnasie and the heterosexuality in Carter's Concerto for Orchestra or Mosaic? How, merely by listening with an "innocent ear" (i.e. without knowing in advance the composer's identity), can anyone tell whether a particular piece of music was written by a woman or a man? - what's so "feminine", for example, about Musgrave's Clarinet Concerto, any of Bacewicz's seven violin concertos or any of Maconchy's string quartets? For what it's worth, Maconchy once said something along the lines that she was a woman to her friends and family and a composer to her audience (which admittedly might have risked begging the question as to whether her friends and family were ever her audience!) and Musgrave said that she's a woman and a composer but never at the same time.

I'm not addressing these questions only to you and certainly not in the expectation of answers in any case, of course! - it's just that, were they to be put to Wright, he'd be no more able to answer them definitively than would anyone else, his clutch of alleged university degrees notwithstanding.
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« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2014, 08:08:06 am »

. . . had he these academic qualifications, there would be checkable records of them . . .

Don't be so sure about that Mr. H. The last time I contacted my own university they told me that they had no record of my existence. "We do have one former student who bears the same name," was all they would tell me, "but we are certain that he is not you."
Then one can but presume that your university's record keeping and general admistration is as flawed as are some of Wright's more questionable and/or specious arguments! That said, even if that is the case, you would presumably have retained your own records of your time at university and any degree/s that you obtained there and might indeed need it as evidence if ever you were required to prove it.

In Wright's case, however, we are led to believe that he has gained not one but five degrees - a bachelorship and doctorate in music and the same in divinity, as well as a PhD; unless he pursued his studies for all of these at - and was awarded all of those degrees by - the same university whose shortcomings in record keeping happen conveniently to be at least as grave as yours, you would surely admit that they look suspect, especially as no indication of the indentity/ies of the university/ies concerned is ever provided - no "D Mus (Cantab)" for Wright, for example!
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« Reply #37 on: January 21, 2014, 08:33:57 am »

"Elgar was a pompous gentleman,"

Perhaps it was just Circumstance?
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ahinton
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« Reply #38 on: January 21, 2014, 09:06:27 am »

"Elgar was a pompous gentleman,"

Perhaps it was just Circumstance?
Clearly the Elgar Society - who must be aware of Wright's ranting - do not take him or it seriously, otherwise we'd be hearing Owls of protest therefrom...

But let's for a moment divert attention away from Wright's Elgarian brickbats and consider those against Chopin and Britten. The fact that Britten thought as highly as he did of Chopin - which surprised me when I discovered it for myself years ago - is clearly of no relevance here, as Wright's vehement accusations against the two composers are quite different from one another and seem to me to share only their vitriolic motivation.

Wright concedes near the end of his Chopin piece that some of Chopin's works are truly fine and well worthy of attention (he cites the G minor Ballade and all four Scherzi); these are indeed among the best pieces that Chopin composed, but Wright offers no clue as to what it is about any of them that sets them apart from the bulk of the composer's work which he so clearly despises. If Chopin the man was truly as execrable in so many ways as Wright paints him, how come he nevertheless managed to write those pieces? - after all, the personal character and conduct of the composer are supposed to be broadly synonymous with - and indeed inseparable from - his/her music, according to Wright!

In one of his Britten-bashing articles, he concludes that no work by Britten will last more than a hundred years or so, apart from Peter Grimes. This raises at least two questions. Firstly, whilst I accept that Peter Grimes is one of Britten's finest achievements, why does Wright single it out as a particular exception in terms of his perceived fate for the composer's works as a whole? - I for one have no idea and, typically, he avoids telling his readers. Secondly, not only is 100 years a long time in music just as a week is said to be the same in politics, it occurs to me also that, if a composer's work manages to survive that long, it is unlikely then to disappear from public consciousness, whether it's by Britten, Shostakovich or anyone else.
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J.Z. Herrenberg
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« Reply #39 on: January 21, 2014, 01:12:39 pm »

Other fave Barb recordings anyone Roll Eyes?

Delius, Appalachia
Elgar, In the South
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« Reply #40 on: January 21, 2014, 03:20:04 pm »

I had really no wish to contribute further to a thread that gives me no great pleasure to read.

....until that is I chanced upon the comments made about the late Sir John Barbirolli Roll Eyes

Michael Kennedy is one of the most respected writers on music living in Britain today. He has written about music for the 'Daily Telegraph' and 'Sunday Telegraph' for seventy years
(Kennedy will be 88 this year). He has an honorary doctorate in music from Manchester University and is an honorary member of the Royal Philharmonic Society. His books on Elgar, Richard Strauss and Vaughan Williams are generally regarded as outstanding contributions to musicology. He was a personal friend of RVW and of Barbirolli and indeed has written a biography of the conductor.

However Dr. W., in his article on Barbirolli, dismisses Kennedy as one "who writes a lot of nonsense". Well, that's Kennedy relegated to Dr.W's dustbin without much further apparent need for elaboration Roll Eyes

I have no intention of going through the Barbirolli article paragraph by paragraph, attempting to refute most (not necessarily all Smiley) of the allegations levelled by Dr. W. against Barbirolli. It IS true that Barbirolli could be averse to conducting music with which he was not in sympathy (perhaps more conductors should be discriminating Huh Grin) and-more seriously-be could make cuts in a composer's work (for which there is much less excuse). He was however, undoubtedly, a great conductor, admired and respected by his orchestra (the Halle), with which he enjoyed almost thirty years of "glorious" years.

Dr. W., however, essentially dismisses Barbirolli as a charlatan and makes-amongst others-one extraordinary claim. RVW-apparently-chose to dedicate his Eighth Symphony to "Glorious John" for the reason that this dedication, far from indicating his admiration and respect for Barbirolli, was RVW's way of "getting the music performed".

There is no evidence cited for this claim. Vaughan Williams was a man of vast integrity. He had absolutely no difficulty in "getting his music performed". To allege that his dedication of the Eight Symphony was a cynical, hypocritical and cheap ruse is a another quite incredible slur on the character of a composer and one for which-yet again-Dr. W. provides no evidence. Did RVW tell Dr. W. this Huh Improbable. Did Barbirolli tell Dr. W. this Huh Hardly! Did Ursula Vaughan Williams tell Dr. W. this Huh

........Oh, really Roll Eyes Roll Eyes I can't be bothered anymore!!!!!
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« Reply #41 on: January 21, 2014, 05:02:04 pm »

Other fave Barb recordings anyone Roll Eyes?

Bax Symphony 3
Alwyn Symphony 1 and 2
Arthur Benjamin Symphony.
VW A London Symphony (EMI)
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BrianA
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« Reply #42 on: January 21, 2014, 06:09:42 pm »

Actually, he said while ducking for cover, leaving aside "Dr" Wrights. personal, professional, or academic qualities or credentials, I have found his website mildly interesting and even helpful.  There are composers of interest to me on whom I haven't been able to find any information in English other than W's biographical sketches.  Mind you, and somewhat ironically considering the discussion we've been having here, many of these articles are simply brief recitations of the "facts" (hopefully!) of a composer's life, with surprisingly little by way of subjective assessment of the composer's output (he seems to reserve that sort of thing for the big names - Chopin, Elgar, etc).  But as I said, in many cases it's the only thing to be found in English, and it is, I suppose, better than nothing at all.

My big beef with Dr Wright is his apparent belief that a musician (composer, performer, or even critic) is some sort of technician, a musical score is a scientific treatise, or even a how-to-do-it manual, and that it is therefore possible to make objective absolute judgements as to either the quality of a composition or the performance of said composition.  I also find the notion that a composer's biography and especially a catalog of his (supposed, alleged) moral lapses is a good guide to the worth of his music and vice versa kind of funny in an almost entertaining kind of way.

For no particularly worthy reason, though, I would like to know if Sir Edward Elgar REALLY had a fetish for navy blue knickers...
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ahinton
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« Reply #43 on: January 21, 2014, 06:47:21 pm »

Actually, he said while ducking for cover, leaving aside "Dr" Wrights. personal, professional, or academic qualities or credentials, I have found his website mildly interesting and even helpful.  There are composers of interest to me on whom I haven't been able to find any information in English other than W's biographical sketches.  Mind you, and somewhat ironically considering the discussion we've been having here, many of these articles are simply brief recitations of the "facts" (hopefully!) of a composer's life, with surprisingly little by way of subjective assessment of the composer's output (he seems to reserve that sort of thing for the big names - Chopin, Elgar, etc).  But as I said, in many cases it's the only thing to be found in English, and it is, I suppose, better than nothing at all.
The problem is that, as you write, what he does write about certain lesser known composers is no more than regurgitations of facts and further information on them IS available from other sources; take Humphrey Searle, for example - there's an entire autobiogrpahy out there for free on the internet!

My big beef with Dr Wright is his apparent belief that a musician (composer, performer, or even critic) is some sort of technician, a musical score is a scientific treatise, or even a how-to-do-it manual, and that it is therefore possible to make objective absolute judgements as to either the quality of a composition or the performance of said composition.
It's specifically the last part of this that doesn't hold good.

I also find the notion that a composer's biography and especially a catalog of his (supposed, alleged) moral lapses is a good guide to the worth of his music and vice versa kind of funny in an almost entertaining kind of way.
Any joke contained therein wears very thin very soon, though, wouldn't you agree?

For no particularly worthy reason, though, I would like to know if Sir Edward Elgar REALLY had a fetish for navy blue knickers...
If that really does genuinely interest you, you might be best advised to ask Anthony Payne...
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kyjo
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« Reply #44 on: January 21, 2014, 09:01:42 pm »

Oh boy. Look what I've started Roll Eyes.....
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