Scrap this broken honours systemmain
Two musical knights were created at the weekend.
David Pountney, 71, was head of productions at English National Opera during its 1980s powerhouse era, and from 2003 to 2014 head of the Bregenz Festival which he raised to world attention with, among other breakthroughs, the premiere of Weinberg’s The Passenger, and for which he received one of Austria’s highest honours.
He went on to serve eight years in the saltmines of Welsh National Opera and it is not until he came to the end of that sentence that he was finally recognised by the UK honours committee.
Ian Stoutzker co-founded Live Music Now with Yehudi Menuhin in 1977 and kept the Philharmonia Orchestra alive, financially and creatively, for the next 20 years. He, too, has finally been recognised – and far too late – along with Stephen Cleobury, who is about to retire as director of music at Kings College, Cambridge.
The musical section of the honours committee is peopled by shadowy influencers like the Barbican chief Nicholas Kenyon and suchlike suits.
Its decisions are parochial, partisan and occasionally self-serving. It is, in other words, inefficient and borderline insane.
Ridiculous to demand reform. We need to scrap the honours system in the arts. Its gifts are either past their sell-by or wholly undeserved.