Art for aesthetics' sake rewards the audience

March 22, 1996

Andrew Pinnock has his critical values turned inside out (THES, Letters, March 1). Art is surely not "great" by virtue of the fact that "enough of the right people agree it deserves to be", but because of its aesthetic qualities.

Certainly consensus is influential on taste, but as a response to intrinsic qualities. But Pinnock's main point, that scholars "collude too willingly" with the consumer market, is suspect in its equation of the record industry with inauthenticity. Since musicology itself abounds in uncertainty, varied interpretation in performance, with the appropriate explanation, is all the more authentic for its rich diversity. If musicology is, as Pinnock argues in his original article (Early Music, December 1995), to encourage the listener's imagination, then scholars should work - not "collude" - even more willingly with the media to reach wider audiences. And if they are rewarded richly for their trouble so much the better, to support even more scholarship.

MALCOLM MILLER Tutor in music, Open University

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