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Arment Dietrich

Could Artistic Fraud Mean Fame for Pianist?

By: Arment Dietrich | February 28, 2007 | 
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An international scandal that experienced a crescendo last week finally came to a head yesterday, after an announcement regarding the remarkable story of pianist Joyce Hatto, was admitted to have been too good to be true.

Recently deceased after a long batter with cancer, Hatto was once described as “the greatest living pianist that almost no one has ever heard of” by a critic writing for the Boston Globe. She was the most prolific classical recording artist of her time, with more than 100 CDs to her name.

After allegations of plagiarism erupted from a classical music listener in New York, Gramophone Magazine hired an audio expert to investigate the charges. To date, the expert has claimed about a half dozen Hatto recordings feature performances by other artists, including a little-known pianist based in Germany, Laszlo Simon.

After days of denials, Hatto’s husband, William Barrington-Coupe, admitted yesterday via email to a record label that he took recordings by others, including Simon’s, and issued them under Hatto’s name on his own label. He claims he did it to help his wife’s career because she had been largely overlooked.

If the allegations are true, this case becomes the biggest case of artistic fraud in the classical music world and parallels the pop industry’s 1990 Milli Vanilli scandal.

As a result of the Hatto hoax, Simon has received more publicity than he may have collected in a musician’s lifetime.  Given the current information related to the story, he had no ties to Hatto or involvement in the hoax. Why shouldn’t he use this opportunity to build awareness surrounding his own musical accomplishments within the classical community?

With a little help from an experienced publicist, Simon has the opportunity to build on this story to benefit his own career and create a positive story for the classical music community.

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