What is this about Danby?
by Matanya Ophee
Disclaimer and background: my use of the [sic!] comments in my quotations below of text posted by Arthur Ness are not meant to suggest that he cannot spell, but rather to point out to him that his own use of such comments in texts by others is a stupid breach of Netiquette. We all commit typing errors when communicating on line.
The recent posting by Tim Crawford of a Response, seems to hang there without a context for those readers who do not read the rec.music.classical.guitar newsgroup. All the postings in this newsgroup are archived by the Google company and are available on line at all times. The present compilation is then an effort to place this particular issue in the narrower context of the on going dispute between certain parties. On Friday, 15 Feb 2002 14:00:05 +0000, Mr. Greg Silverman posted this query:
I heard a killer arrangement of one of Handel’s recorder sonatas with Michela Petri and Manuel Barrueco the other day… does anyone know if these transcriptions are available in print… they sound like they’d be a blast to play!
There were several responses pointing Mr. Silverman towards some existing editions of these sonatas, including one by myself in which I mentioned the Doblinger editions. A couple of hours later, Arthur J. Ness posting from his email@example.com e-mail account, said this:
The most exciting news on the Handel scene is the discovery of a
manuscript from the 18th century with solo lute peces [sic!]by Handel.
Heretofore all of the music by Handel for lute was in various
oratorios where the lute is given an obbligatto [sic!] part.
Sylvia Minkoff will publish it in a transcripton [sic!] and facsimile edited
by Tim Crawford. That means that sooner or later the music will
doubtlessly find its way into the guitar repertory in arrangements.
So you can then ease up on JSBach for a change of pace.<g>
Yes, there are many Handel sonatas for flute. At least a dozen in
just one opus number. So Greg will have to be more specific. I do
not know which are for recorder and which are for traverso.
This information was obviously OT (a Usenet lingo referring to Off Topic, i.e., discussing a different subject than that mentioned in the subject line of the thread). It was worded in such a manner so as to give the readers of the newsgroup, mainly guitarists on all levels of sophistication, the impression that this important event, the discovery of lute music by Handel, was a recent event, just happened, with the operative word being “heretofore!” From hereon, we will have original music by Handel for lute. At the time, Ness was running a campaign in the NG trying to convince everyone that the German-English 19th century guitarist Catharina Josepha Pelzer who was known by the professional name of Madame Sidney Pratten was really Madame Sidney-Pratten, since Sidney was not her husband’s given or middle name, but part of his surname. Since all the available printed music by Madame Sidney Pratten attributes the music to Madame Sidney Pratten, and she is so referred to by every existing dictionary, library catalogue and on line data-bases as such, I asked Ness to provide any proof that his contention is supported by any evidence. The only thing he came up with was the one of two entries in the Zuth Handbuch der Gitarre und Laute which used the hyphenated name. He kept mentioning some flute sources that refer to her flutist husband as a Mr. Sidney-Pratten. He refused to state which are those sources. If you are really interested in this all-encompassing crucial issue for guitar history, do a Google search in rec.music.classical.guitar for a most amazing display of logical obfuscation. I was annoyed.
So I posted this in response to Ness:
Don’t believe a word this man says. He lied about the Pratten Name
Authority File in the Library of Congress, and who knows if he has a
clue what this is all about.
Besides, this is completely Off Topic and Off the Wall. The initial
inquirer did not ask about G. Friedrich-Händel’s lute works, but about
a specific composition for flute with guitar accompaniment played by
Michala Petrie and Manuel Barrueco.
You have a some cleaning up to do before you can restore your
credibility in this NG.
The retort to this was not far behind. the following day, on 16 Feb 2002 00:34:28 GMT, burning the midnight oil, Ness had this to say:
My, my. Matanya’s upset. I wonder why?
And of course Matanya knows exactly what I am talking about. Several
years ago with Ophee’s participation the Handel lute manuscript was
discussed in public on the lute newsgroup. (for info, on the lute
Matanya was to have published that newly discovered manuscript with
all those Handel pieces for lute, and then he stiffed poor Tim
Crawford after he turned in his finished work. (Fortunately Mrs.
Minkoff recognized its value, and took over the work that Tim had
prepared for Matanya. (The manuscript is in a U.S. library, and
properly it should have been published here, rather than in
Matanya missed the opportunity of publishing the most exciting lute
discovery of the decade. Of the century!!! And Matanya would also
have had the rights to the guitar arrangements, which will be
published by someone other than Mrs. Minkoff. Every guitarist in the
world will want to play guitar arrangements of those Handel lute
[Remainder of the message snipped, but as I say, you can always read it in full on Google]. I was not going to let this go unchallenged, so I gave this one back:
firstname.lastname@example.org (AJN-2) wrote:
>And of course Matanya knows exactly what I am talking about. Several
>years ago […] he stiffed poor Tim
>Crawford after he turned in his finished work.
That’s the biggest load of crap I have ever heard. Just half an hour
ago, you described this as “the most exciting news on the Handel
scene” as if it was something recent. Now you say this took place
several years ago.
The only thing ever discussed between Tim Crawford and me, outside the
Moscow Weiss Manuscript and the Swan Manuscript which I published, was
the Lord Danby Manuscript, which contains, among others,
transcriptions of some Handel pieces. There was never any agreement
between us to publish this, and Tim had never submitted a “finished
> (Fortunately Mrs.
>Minkoff recognized its value, and took over the work that Tim had
>prepared for Matanya. (The manuscript is in a U.S. library,
Eastman School of Music in Rochester. What Minkoff plans to publish is
a facsimile of the manuscript, nothing else. That plan has been in the
works for almost ten years now.
>Matanya missed the opportunity of publishing the most exciting lute
>discovery of the decade.
Bullshit. That was a decade ago. Not this decade.
> Of the century!!!
More bullshit. This was in the 20th century. We are now in the 21st.
>And Matanya would also
>have had the rights to the guitar arrangements, which will be
>published by someone other than Mrs. Minkoff. Every guitarist in the
>world will want to play guitar arrangements of those Handel lute
BFD. These are not original pieces and even transcribers such as
Richard Yates can come up with much better renditions of this music.
Arthur’s response was not too far behind:
On Fri, 15 Feb 2002 21:53:48 GMT, Matanya Ophee <email@example.com>
>There was never any agreement
>between us to publish this, and Tim had never submitted a “finished
I was directly involved with the discussions with Tim. At the time I
was General Editor for the series Monuments of the Lutenist Art, which
was to be published by Editions Orphees.
If Tm [sic!] edited the Moscow Weiss and Swan MS, Matanya agreecd [sic!] to publish
Danby. As General Edor of the series this was an exciting prospect. I
wanted to see quiality [sic!] music published. Tim didn’t want to do those
editions, and only after Matnay and I held out the promise of Danby,
did he agree. So don’t change the facts, Matanya. Tim finished work
on that edition 20 years earlier. Yes, 20 years earlier.
The promise of Danby secured Tim’s assistance. I was involved with
getting Tim to do those two editions, with the assistancve [sic!] of
Pierre-François Goy, whom I also secured to provide assistance with
Swan. (And you screwed up.his work too, Matanya, and he’s also very
angry with you.) I also secured the assistance of Pat O’Brien and
Paul O’Dette, and … Matanya stiffed them all.
According to that discussion on the lute newsgroup Matanya refused to
publish the edition because Matanya did not like the quality of the
engravings Tim made. That was his public excuse. Apparently,
according to Tim, there was some thing more to it than the quality of
engravings but Tim did not disclose the details. And Matanya is
completeky [sic1] lacking in any credentials to pass judgement [sic!] on Crawford’s
work. He can’t even read music.
>> (Fortunately Mrs.
>>Minkoff recognized its value, and took over the work that Tim had
>>prepared for Matanya. (The manuscript is in a U.S. library,
>Eastman School of Music in Rochester. What Minkoff plans to publish is
>a facsimile of the manuscript, nothing else. That plan has been in the
>works for almost ten years now.
That is NOT so. There were plans ten (yikes) it must have been 20
years ago to publish Tim’ transcrptions [sic!] with a facsimile of the
manuscript in England (OUP???), but Eastman would not give permission.
Poor Tim. He asked for permission after he’d almost finished all his
work. He should have asked before starting. The same advice should
apply to those wanting to make arrangements of music under copyright
protection. Ask for permission, and _then_ make the arrangement when
you have permission to do so.
That made me very angry, particularly since Tim traveled to Rochester
from London to examine the manuscript in person. I went with him and
Paul O’Dette to look at it. The Eastman School (where I had studied
as a clarinet major, while a young professional player; guitar came
later) subsequently granted permission just when the prospect of MoLA
came into being.
Mrs. Minkoff will publish Tim’s transcriptions AND the facsimile.
>BFD. These are not original pieces and even transcribers such as
>Richard Yates can come up with much better renditions of this music.
These are original pieces for lute apparently made when Handel was in
Hamburg, before settling in London. Some of the pieces are otherwise
unknown. So some pieces may have been recycled later. They are ALL
identifiable as Handel. They are NOT transcriptions of the sort made
by Richard Yates. These are original works for lute.
The book with trashy minuets is Moscow/Weiss (publ. by Ophee–I told
him not to, but he didn’t listen). Most of the music is NOT by Weiss,
but by some Russian amateur. And the Weiss pieces have been tampered
with to make them sound “Russian.” That is why Tim was so reluctant
to get invoved with Mocow-Weiss.
But the promise of Danby was the carrot.
You’re a bona fide SOB, Matanya, to treat Tim that way.
At this point I responded with this:
firstname.lastname@example.org (ajn-4) wrote:
>You’re a bona fide SOB, Matanya, to treat Tim that way.
There are two reasons why AJN can allow himself to get away with what
is patently actionable libel.
He knows I could not afford the legal fees involved, and even if I
did, he knows that there is nothing for me to garnish or repossess. He
is not employed, living mostly on his wife’s salary and the occasional
income he gets from typesetting music in Score, and everything is in
his wife’s name. There is a very good reason his computer is 14 years
old and he communicates with 14,400 modem.
But I just asked Tim to clarify the facts involved here. In the
meantime, if you have access to my 1993 catalogue, you can see on page
24 exactly how the MOLA project was designed. That text, which I will
post on my web site later today, was written by Arthur J. Ness.
Of course, I could also post here the entire 3 megabytes of
correspondence I have had with AJN at the time. But I don’t do things
like that. I’ll better reserve this priceless prose for my memoirs.
And then I asked Tim for his recollections of the events relating to the Danby manuscript which I then posted here with his permission. The real context for my stormy relationship with Arthur Ness is much older than this exchange. Some details about it are found here.
Copyright © 2002 by Matanya Ophee. All Rights Reserved.