Letters: Musical Constructions of Nationalism

Letters: Musical Constructions of Nationalism

Dear Editor,

In defending Harry White against what I perceived as a personal attack by Patrick Zuk I have come under attack myself from four sides. As the arguments of Patrick Zuk, Barra Ó Séaghdha, Séamas de Barra and Eoin Hegarty are basically the same I would like to briefly respond to them.

The first argument used against me by all four letter writers is that I didn’t engage with Mr Zuk’s extended book review at all (Zuk: ‘Klein avoids engaging with my criticism in even the most superficial way’; Ó Séaghdha: ‘Klein does not take issue with any specific point raised by Zuk’; etc.). I am sorry, but this was not my intention at all. I clearly see the effort Mr Zuk has put into his extended review and I do acknowledge that he would have deserved a more detailed reply to several points he raised. But again, this was not my intention. I was only bothered by what I still regard as a personal attack, which I don’t consider justified.

The second point raised against my letter was that I had seemingly said an internationally acclaimed musicologist was immune against criticism. Well, of course, I don’t think so. In principle everyone has the right to criticise any authority if the criticism is well founded. What bothered me about Mr Zuk’s review at this point was that he seemed to deny the sincerity of Prof. White’s research as such. And here the ‘authority’ comes to the fore insofar as he would not have gained his international stature if he was a charlatan.

And a third point is that I criticised the form of the review (de Barra: ‘Klein has clear ideas about what can and cannot be said’). I did indeed criticise that Mr Zuk instrumentalised the review to disseminate his general views on Harry White. If you agree with him you will like it, if not you don’t.

Dr Axel Klein

Published on 1 November 2002

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