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Michael Stuart considers musical copycats

Many years ago I recall a teacher at my school who became a holocaust denying bishop ordained at Harrods railing against Pop music on the basis that JS Bach is always in the top ten. The observation must have resonated with me as 45 years on I still recall it.

Over the last few years as my tastes embraced classical music ,like my good friend pop guru Paul Gambaccini, I questioned its accuracy. Rafe Vaughan Wiliams in his striking Somerset songs and Czechoslovakia’s finest composer Antonin Dvorak in his Slavonic Dances adapted folk tunes. Johannes Brahms finest violin concerto is also strongly based on a folk tune.

Oliver! is in my view the best musical ever written on these shores. There is hardly one weak song. “You gotta pick a pocket or two ” came right out of the synagogue service with its vibrant Judaic cadence. It’s writer Lionel Bart was such a plagiarist that he committed the ultimate crime: by the end of his life when after backing his own disastrous musical Twang he was financially wrecked as well as from suffering the extravagance of a life style hat included a £40000 toilet he actually and unknowingly plagiarised his own melodies .

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About Michael Stuart

After university, Michael spent twelve years working for MELODY MAKER before going freelance. He claims to keep doing it because it is all he knows. More Posts