I’ve waited a couple of days to post this. I needed some time to calm down and decide how to respond. Several days ago I received the following email from a very fine harpist who is also a good friend:
Carl-Did you really mean your comments to become a political invective against the contest and the state of Israel?
I immediately emailed her to say that I had no idea what she was talking about. I then called her. It seems that there is an unsigned letter that is being sent around the internet which is a political diatribe against the Israel Harp Competition and Israel itself, and it uses a posting that I made on this site more than a year ago as the basis for its argument. She told me that it has been sent to anyone who is or has ever been associated with the Israel Competition. My posting was distorted, taken out of context, and edited to say what the author wanted it to say. But they nevertheless put my name on it.
You can easily find this diatribe on line by googling Pierre Jamet and the Israel Competition. That’s how I found it. My original posting, which was used on this diatribe, was posting #9 on a thread dated 5/15/11 and titled ISRAEL HARP COMPETITION/USA INTERNATIONAL HARP COMPETITION.
I’m putting this post up to say that I had nothing to do with this political diatribe, I was not asked for my permission to use my Harp Column post and would not have given it, and that my original post was not in any way anti-Israel Competition or anti-Israel.
Here is the original post, in its entirety, that was used in the political diatribe:
Just to let you know: My teacher, Pierre Jamet, was the one who came up with the idea of an international harp competition and was part of the original organization that founded the Israel Competition. But their original plan was to hold the competition in a different country each time, not always in Israel. They chose Israel for the first competition because of the story of King David. But as soon as the first competition took place, the Israeli organizers took hold of it and kept it in Israel. I’m not sure how practical it would have been to move the location for each competition, so I’m not complaining about Israel. Maybe what they could consider is having a second location, say in Europe or in the U.S. and alternate between the two.
The writer of the diatribe conveniently left out the last two sentences of my post. The only thing I regret in this post is the wording “the Israeli organizers took hold of it” which sounds negative. That wasn’t the intention and the following sentence explains this. Had I known then what would be done with the post, I would have added that musical competitions need three things to be successful: 1) A well organized institution to run the competition. 2) Money to fund the competition. 3) Consistancy, both of the organization and the competition itself, so that potential competitors know what they are getting involved with when they decide to compete. Moving a competition each time to a different country would have made all three next to impossible, particularly 60 years ago, decades before the internet and instant communication. The organization for the Israel Competition stands as a model of excellent organization.
As I look back again at the comment that Jamet made about moving the competition to a different country each time, I think he was telling me that it was one of probably many ideas that were mentioned and then discarded as the first competition was being planned. This happens all the time when anything is being planned.
The writer of the diatribe states:
“No doubt Pierre Jamet was very disappointed that the contest he helped to found never took place in his home city of Paris.”
He never once expressed any desire to move the competition to Paris, nor any disappointment as to the way the competition evolved.
The writer states: “How sad that his plans were never realized. Jamet passed away in 1991, always knowing that his intentions were not honored. Indeed, research shows that Jamet disassociated himself from Israel after 1965, just 6 years after the contest began in Israel.”
This is patently untrue. Again, he never expressed any disappointment in the running of the Israel Competition, and in fact was very proud of it’s existence, of which he had been the founder. He did not “disassociate” himself from the competition, as the writer states. The ground rules of the competition, I’m sure written with his help, are that jurors may sit on the competition jury for a maximum of two competitions. Then they are replaced by someone else. By 1965, Jamet had served on two competition juries and so was no longer allowed to participate. The fact is, Jamet never expressed any desire to continue participating in the organization of the Competition. Once it was up and running, he let go and allowed it to be run as an independent organization. Exactly the same thing happened in the founding of the USA Competition. It was Suzanne McDonald’s idea. But once it was formed, she withdrew and it has now been run for many years as an independent institution. Jamet told me near the end of his life that he had counted something like 16 former students who had been grand prize winners(first, second, or third prize) at various competitions over the years. He always encouraged his students to participate in competitions, including Israel, as well as gatherings of harpists, like the Holland Harp Week.
The writer states:
There were other harpists who were also undoubtedly disappointed that Israel “took hold of the contest.” Maria Korchinska (England), Phia Berghout (Holland), Clelia Gatti Aldrovandi (Italy), Vera Dulova (Russia), Nicanor Zabaleta (Spain), Lucile Johnson Rosenbloom, Lucile Lawrence and Eileen Malone (USA), Marcel Grandjany and Carlos Salzedo (USA and France) were all renowned harpists and founders of the contest, they must have had visions of someday seeing the tri-annual contest in their home countries as well.
I knew several of the people mentioned on this list. I have never once heard, in my 50 years of involvement in the harp world, any disappointment over the Israel Competition taking place only in Israel, nor any desire by anyone to move it.
The writer states:
Harpists are likely investigating Israel’s many violations of human rights and are choosing to heed the call to boycott.
This is absurd to the point of lunacy.