Forget Musical Chairs, It’s Musical Paedos!

Martin Kettle on Benjamin Brittan:

Is it important, and if so in what sense and to what degree, that one of this country’s most significant composers of the past century – in many people’s view, the most significant modern British composer of them all – was intensely attracted to underage young boys, invited them to stay at his home, sometimes took them into his bed, or kissed them?

I’d have to say ‘No’. Well, not to me, anyway.

But why should it trouble you, Martin?

And there are two important current reasons why those of us who revere Britten and his music should ensure that it continues to be properly discussed and not tut-tutted away.
The first is that 22 November marks the official start of a long and vast set of celebrations to mark Britten’s centenary.

The last thing his music needs is to be subverted by a pointless denial of his complex sexuality.

Why should that even come up? Isn’t it 2012?

I can’t say that the first thing that springs to mind when listening to the opening bars to ‘Fast Love’ is that George Michael is gay, nor that – on hearing ‘Hey, You, Get Offa My Cloud’ on Radio 2 – that Mick Jagger has a bit of a reputation as a ladies man.

So why would this be an issue on hearing a Britten composition?

The other is the explosive effect of the Jimmy Savile scandal….

Ah. Right. Of course, the nom du jour.

It is clear that Savile has raised to new heights the question of whether other public figures have been allowed to manipulate their fame and standing to protect their sexual activities from scrutiny. Maybe Britten was one of them.

Who claims this?

That question has certainly been asked by the Daily Mail.

Ah. Right. And of course, the ‘Guardian’ always worries what the ‘Daily Mail’ thinks, right?

Two plus two makes five? Maybe. Anti-BBC mischief-making? Of course. But thoughtful admirers of Britten have to take the questioning and the issue seriously and not dismiss it as arrogantly as some fans have done. Sexual exploitation ruins lives. It gets covered up. And if the children’s commissioner’s report is right – which is disputed – there are thousands of cases.

Why can’t you just dismiss it? The ‘Guardian’ always seems very good at dismissing things to me…

As it happens, Britten’s relationship with children and Savile’s are not remotely comparable.

Ah. Good!

In the first place, no evidence has come to light that Britten assaulted any boys, let alone on a serial basis as in Savile’s case.

I’m not aware that any actual evidence has come to light in Savile’s, either. Plenty of accusation, yes. And as Anna Raccoon’s superb series has shown, it’s all a bit dodgy in a rather different way…

But since when did the ‘Guardian’ accept the No Smoke Without Fire hypothesis?

Second, the ground has been very extensively gone over, not least by both Carpenter and Bridcut.

Same with Savile, but it’s just that alternative conclusions appear to have been reached…

Third, many of the boys to whom Britten was close – and some of the parents who knew something of the composer’s ways – remained friendly and respectful to Britten.

Well, so what?

That is not a watertight defence. The line between inappropriate and illegal behaviour can be a grey one. Bob Shingleton, whose excellent On An Overgrown Path blog has not shirked the issues, points out that even the acknowledged facts about Britten’s bed-sharing and kissing would be enough to disturb many people.

And once again, who cares what the repressed think? That’s never troubled the ‘Guardian’ before, has it?

But it wouldn’t stop Britten being a great composer, any more than murdering someone disqualifies Gesualdo, antisemitism disqualifies Wagner, or being an anti-Dreyfusard disqualifies Cézanne from being a master painter.

That this needs to be said is perhaps an indication of how low the ‘Guardian’ readership has sunk…

But there must be some other reason for Martin to want to absolve Britten of the taint. What could it be?

Sex is not the only thing that mattered to Britten. Nor is it the only thing in his life that matters in his music. Pacifism mattered. So did leftwing politics, a distaste for public moralising, and the desire to be what he once called a “useful composer”, writing music that energised, beautified and enriched the life of the world.

Ahh, yes. Repeat after me:

”One of us, one of us, one of us….”

10 comments for “Forget Musical Chairs, It’s Musical Paedos!

  1. ivan
    November 30, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Will it never end, this witch hunt by the various self styled paedo-finder generals? All it shows is just how low the country has sunk all because some people want to cover up the actions of gangs of Pakistani muslims preying on white girls and the fact that certain council SS brigades helped them.

    • November 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      They never effing stop, do they?

      • December 1, 2012 at 7:00 am

        Nope! They are like zombies. I think they have to be shot in the head. Or is that vampires?

  2. Tatty
    November 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Draw as much attention to paedophiles as you like, I say. There should be no hiding place for them.

    A gossipfest on the subject serves little purpose but to draw attention away from the heinous act of adults fucking children, allow people who’d like others to believe they are oh-so-enlightened on the subject of “sexuality” to chuck around semantics and then on to question whether anyone has the right to dictate what others do behind closed doors. Detract, dilute, divide and round and round it goes.

    What really pisses me off about the latest gossipfest on the subject is; why bother if you’re not going to DO anything about it ? Why bother to compare past paedophiles when in present day…when they have never been so easily identifiable and caught…they are released on a daily basis back into the community to carry on regardless.

    It’s all just random and pointless noise. 😐

    • December 1, 2012 at 7:01 am

      No, it’s not. It’s destroying people’s lives and reputations over things that sometimes weren’t even crimes back then!

      • Tatty
        December 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm

        What is ?

        I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Are you saying it’s ok to be a paedophile if The Law doesn’t expressly forbid it ?

        Since reputation is entirely dependent on others personal opinions then whether or not an act is criminal is pretty much irrelevant.

        *genuinely confused* …clarify, please ?

        • David A. Evans
          December 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

          What you’re missing is that it’s all a distraction.

          What have Jimmy Savile, The other McAlpine and Benjamin Britten all got in common?

          I’m way more interested in whatever it is they’re trying to distract our attention from.


          • Tatty
            December 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm

            What you’re missing is that it’s all a distraction.

            Who me ? Nope. Concentrating on one thing at a time ? Yerp. Trying to, anyway.

            So much shit to deal with …and so little time 😉

  3. Peterjones
    November 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Leftie paedos are fine, it’s only ‘right wing’ paedos who should be hunted down for the 5 minutes hate. Get with the programme!

  4. Furor Teutonicus
    December 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    There is a destinct attempt to destroy history and culture. Either by rumour or innuendo. (Or do they mean the same thing?)

    Who comes next in the list?

    “Jimmy Saville was a wanker”, Jimmy Hendrix…. John Bonham….Marc Bolan…. Janis Joplin….. etc, etc….

    Has anyone else the feeling here, that “they” are trying to destoy the “Geist”….”spirit” that started in the 60s, and was hijacked by the “68er”?

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