Classical musician of ‘world repute’ is put in the tabloid dock

Classical musician of ‘world repute’ is put in the tabloid dock


norman lebrecht

November 23, 2013

Two British newspapers at the scummier end of the spectrum have been reporting the trial of a musician who is accused on one count of ‘sexual assault by touching’. The person in question is charged with making advances to a teenaged girl while simultaneously kissing her mother – not a nice thing to do, if true, but neither is it a matter of gross public outrage – unless someone in the trial is famous.

So both newspapers have assiduously described the accused as being a classical musician of international renown. He is not. In fact, he is barely known beyond his own district of London, and perhaps the odd cruise liner where he gets some work.

The newspapers know this. They distort the facts by inflating his reputation in order to justify publishing a story that is of no public interest beyond its salacious detail. And they give the trial report great prominence.

Please do not try to track down the story. It is not a story. It is just a pair of mid-market UK newspapers trying to whip up excitement among dying readers. For shame.

The trial continues.

torn newspaper



  • A. Penner says:

    So, it’s not the sensationalist pseudo-journalists “reporting” on someone in music who is accused of sexual assault that rubs you wrong, but that the musician in question is just a local one?

  • Alexander Skeaping says:

    No, Mr. Mrs. or Miss A. Penney, I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick here. I read this to mean that the tabloids in question were trying to justify the publication of details of a really insignificant story as being in the public interest because, they claim, the accused is “internationally famous” whereas in fact he isn’t actually particularly well known outside his locality.

  • Marguerite Foxon says:

    Why is this even taking up space on this blog, more to the point?

  • V.Lind says:

    I rarely see the tabloids online, but I do look at the so-called “qualities” on a daily basis. While your take on this story may be correct — though if the girl is a minor, it is not necessarily just sleazy behaviour — it is the characterisation of the newspapers in question that shocked me. Despite its political slant, I have never regarded the Telegraph as hailing from “the scummier end of the spectrum.” I usually read some of its news and arts coverage — I probably never would have noticed this item without your prompt. I, as per your suggestion, had not heard of this performer. But armed with his name I checked google just to see what the other offending journal was, and discovered the Evening Standard, which I very occasionally read for golf coverage. Otherwise I know little about it, but again I had not thought it to be from “the scummier end.”

    What’s the respectable end, just in case I should be revising my reading pattern?

  • Alexander says:

    The Telegraph and Standard both represent to some extent a particular political point of view, but I would not describe either paper as scummy. I suspect that Mr Lebrecht may have been referring to the Mail, which is where I read this story. If this is the case, I fear that Mr Lebrecht may on the contrary have inadvertently overestimated the quality of journalism, for I suspect that the writer in fact knows nothing of classical music and used the phrase ‘internationally renowned concert pianist’ entirely unaware that the person about whom she was writing is nothing of the sort.

  • Andrew says:

    It HAS to be a conductor.