Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Great Piano Scam

I'd read about this case a few years ago. British pianist Joyce Hatto hadn't performed in years and might not have been that good to begin with. She quit performing after suffering a breakdown on stage. But in 2003 she and her husband started releasing CD after CD of a wide range of classical music.

She died of cancer in 2006 at the height of her comeback.

It wasn't long after that that the whole thing was exposed as a fraud.

Here is a 23 minute British TV documentary on YouTube. The recordings were plagiarized. Hatto's husband took recordings off other CDs, modified them slightly and released them on their own CDs.

It seems like a problem with classical music in general. You're playing the same piece note-for-note that's already been recorded countless times, and apparently people can't tell one recording from another. In this case, the fraud was discovered because a guy played a track from one of Hatto's CDs and someone else's name appeared on the screen.

Her husband still denies everything.

I don't approve of actual fraud, of course, but I've always found charlatanism strangely appealing. In this case, Hatto's husband created fake quotes from non-existent critics enthusing over his wife's performances, he claimed that recordings had been made during live performances that never took place. 

It turns out that there's not much money in classical CD sales. I'm not sure why that is. Classical music actually sells pretty well compared to jazz and some other categories. But classical musicians make their money from live performances.

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