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Sunday, 16 September 2007


In a small bit of sychronicity, last week's New Yorker mag (cover date Sept 17) has an article by Mark Singer (OT aside: maybe the best magazine writer working in English) on the late Joyce Hatto, the British pianist who was at the center of a recent large plagiarism fraud. Hatto's husband, likely with her knowledge, stole recordings of the performances of other pianists and released them on his tiny record label under her name. She enjoyed, at the end of her life, widespread acclaim for a few years until the fraud was exposed.

I'm struck by how similar her story is to that of O'Donnell. Just as O'Donnell was a real professional news photographer -- but one of minor note at best -- Hatto was a real, if minor and largely unsuccessful, concert pianist. Playing amateur psychologist here, it looks like they both, late in their lives, eventually succumbed to disappointment at never achieving the recognition they had always dreamed of, and couldn't resist making a late grab for it, even if fraudulently.

Seems kind of a sad and very human tragedy to me more than anything else (without meaning, of course, to excuse the very real offense they committed against the actual authors of the works they stole).

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