Philip Ewell of Hunter College, a public university in New York, has been chasing headlines by calling for the decolonisation of classical music and denouncing any scholar he doesn’t like as a racist. Beethoven, in Ewell’s view, is just another over-promoted white male.
This might be harmless and amusing were it not for the mob that follows Ewell and tries to cancel honest scholars who disagree with him.
Ewell himself is hands-off in the mov violence so much so that he refuses to answer questions from Slipped Disc and the New York Times, hiding behind a gown of academic privilege – we use the word advisedly – that really needs to be pulled down.
Others arestarting to question the substance of his musical knowledge and musicianship. The attached polemic by David P Goldman sheds some light on Ewell’s gifts as a cellist.
It’s all about envy.
My childhood piano teacher kept a recording of Florence Foster Jenkins, the deluded society lady portrayed by Meryl Streep in a 2016 comedy, as a horrible example for youth. Her voice would de-feather a screech-owl, but no-one was allowed to tell her she couldn’t sing. The only classical musician still active who bears comparison to Ms. Jenkins is a certain Philip Ewell, now a professor of music theory at Hunter College, who posts videos of himself torturing a cello until it squeals in pain. Prof. Ewell is African-American and has won his fifteen minutes of fame by denouncing whiteness in classical music….
Read on and listen here.