You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

“Remember that Elgar score you have with the composer’s original markings? Yeah, it’s hot and the police may want to have a word with you.”

Adaptistration People 195The 7/11/2018 edition of classicfm.com published an article by Maddy Shaw Roberts that reports on what started off as an Antiques Roadshow classical music find turned out to be more enlightening than the woman bargained for.

The whole article is worth a ready but here are the highlights:

  • Woman brings score of Elgar’s Enigma Variations in to the show for review.
  • Show specialist raves about it and estimates a value in the $100,000 – $130,000.
  • The woman reportedly contacted Christie’s auction house to sell the score.
  • The Elgar Foundation got wind of the show and it just so happens one of their scores that looked just like the one in the program went missing in 1994.
  • It turns out the woman’s late husband was an Elgar enthusiast and just so happened to work at a firm of solicitors with a former board officer of the Elgar Foundation.
  • While the board member and the woman’s husband are both deceased, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to find that trail of clues.
  • Unsurprisingly, the foundation wants the score back and is threatening legal action.

Other than the obvious, lessons learned here include leaving your loved ones a note that the valuable original score you cherished was pinched so, you know, none of them should go on television to get it appraised.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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