Friday, October 16, 2015
Suicide is painless
Yesterday Norman Lebrecht ran a story on his Slipped Disc blog headlined "Piano teacher is arrested in Florida over ‘sexual’ breastfeeding video". Now that story troubles me greatly; but not for the reasons you may think. It is common knowledge that, to quote a Sunday Times review of one of Lebrecht's books that: "Where others write, he romps, pursuing scandal, sex and ‘shame’ (a favorite word) with the alliterative abandon of a redtop tabloid". So I am not troubled that the post was unashamedly salacious click bait. Nor am I troubled that this recycled titillation was scraped from a Yahoo News item, which in turn had scraped it from an American TV news channel. Nor am I troubled that the two images on the Slipped Disc post were used without copyright attribution*. (Journalists who have received copyright infringement warnings from Lebrecht Photo Library - the self-styled "world's largest resource for music pictures and all the creative arts" - will understand the pertinence of that latter comment).
No, what troubles me is that Norman Lebrecht receives the full support of the classical music industry. He is employed by the largest classical music group Universal Classics via their Sinfini Music website. His programmes appear on BBC Radio 3 and he contributes to Radio 4. He is flowed review discs by all classical labels, and writes for the New Statesman and Wall Street Journal. He is courted by leading musicians who feed him 'exclusives', and is fed the oxygen of exposure by other professional journalists. And he wins an award recognising "the commitment and work of artists and journalists who provided a real contribution to the ever increasing role of music in the culture of entire populations and individuals".
One of Lebrecht's recurring themes is the death of classical music. Readers will know that I have spent much time this summer exploring the edges of the both the live and recorded music network. Discoveries such as George Onslow's String Quartets on disc and lesser-known Armenian composers in concert, make me think that classical music is still in rude health. But then I look at Slipped Disc, and realise that this apparently healthy and vibrant artform is, in fact, committing suicide.
* For the record the sources of the images used on Slipped Disc are 'Police handout' via Yahoo, and piano teacher Leigh Felten's website. My header image is from YouTube video in public domain. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.