What is Lisztomania, and how was it cured? Who was Drog, and what was his prophecy regarding Electronic Music? What preparation do you need before throwing an artistic tantrum? Which orchestral musicians are also qualified to run a hospital?
The plausible answers to these and many other tantalising questions can be found in this wickedly funny – and occasionally just wicked - book.
The many commonly-used descriptions of some of the best known identities and institutions of music are ‘diagnosed’ to reveal something very different from the accepted truths about such icons. Conductors, music critics, composers, radio presenters, singers, pianists and others are shown in a very different light. These alternate views, or ‘heresies’ are assembled conveniently in alphabetical order. Under U is for Understudy for example, can be found a variety of different reasons why understudies, far from being hailed as saviours, are so widely disliked.
Because music critics will probably be discomforted by what they find inside, it is extremely unlikely any will choose to review this book. The author has been compelled therefore to write his own critical quotes.
Here are some favourable ones:
‘… A wonderful collection of truths, and almost all are inconvenient’.
‘… Something here to offend everyone’.
‘… Everything from burlesque to parody, and with a sprinkling of serious commentary to confound the believers’.
In the interest of balance however, here are some quotes from reviews which might have been written by others less inclined to view Heresies favourably. Again, the author has undertaken this task on their behalf:
“…a random assortment of schoolboy jokes. Possibly enjoyable for those who like juvenile humour – assuming they find it funny at all.”
“The attempts at serious commentary are laughable, while the so-called heretical viewpoints are the unfunny fancies of a feeble mind.”
“… Betrays an underlying resentment – disguised as ‘heresy’ – of those of eminence and achievement in music’s historical record.”
Hmm. Can they all be right?