A reply to an attack

See also    update June 1998

This is a reply by Brian Jeffery to a piece entitled "Jeffery's Fernando Sor revisited" by Matanya Ophee.

It is unfortunate that this attack on my book Fernando Sor, Composer and Guitarist has found a public outlet on the Net, because no one likes to see items of this type. It is unpleasant and is personal in tone, contrary to normal conventions for discussion of issues related to scholarship, which specify that discussion shall be ad rem (addressed to the subject) and not ad hominem (addressed to the person) which this is. It is also commercially motivated, without however saying so. Here are some comments on my book and also on the piece.

I am proud to have produced, through my firm Tecla, the Complete Works of Sor and Giuliani which are the cornerstones of the classical guitar repertory, and my book Fernando Sor, Composer and Guitarist which is recognized as the standard work on Sor. People use these publications all the time.  I am also proud to have produced two years ago the second edition of the book on Sor, and of course I stand by everything in the book one hundred per cent, first edition and second edition as well.  Everything which is claimed for both editions of the book is wholly correct and is not misleading in any way.

I am glad that the book has given information and, I hope, enjoyment to a generation. Now there is a new generation, and I am glad that the book is still available, now in updated form. The update had the welcome support of a community of guitarists, many of whom sent in suggestions and new information, and their names are acknowledged in the book. Some people (to whom I am most grateful) have even already sent in some suggestions and information for the third edition, including some very interesting new information about Sor's time in Spain, and if any reader of this item has any suggestions or contributions to make to the third edition, I would be happy to receive them (email c/o Tecla. The email address is at the foot of the Tecla home page).

Some extracts from the book are available to be read on the Web.

The piece which has appeared is not genuine debate, even though it may at first give that appearance. Indeed I regret having to write a reply to such a piece. It is one of a whole series of unjustified attacks on many different people which Mr. Ophee has made over the years and whose tone has again and again been condemned as unacceptable by many others than myself. It is not in accordance with common standards, such as, for example, the following which is an extract from the policy statement of one of the discussion forums in H-net: "The editors reserve the right to keep the discussion on the subject, and free from ad hominem attacks or other arguments that go beyond the limits of accepted professional discourse." When a personal attack once appeared on H-net, much milder than the one here discussed, a chorus of protest rightly ensued.

There is another point which I think is very important, and that is that the piece gives the appearance of being disinterested while in fact Mr. Ophee has serious financial interests in competing commercially with the firm Tecla Editions of which I am the owner. He is the editor of an edition of the didactic works of Sor which was launched to compete directly in the student market with my edition of The Complete Studies, Lessons, and Exercises of Sor (Tecla 101). In Great Britain, because these works are prescribed for examinations, a serious amount of money is involved. It is as though someone were to write a review of something and savagely attack its maker in personal terms, pretending to be disinterested, while hiding the fact that he is the recipient of income from a competing item whose sales he wishes to maximize. Do readers of this piece think that that is acceptable? I donít.

Brian Jeffery

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