The Gerrard Chronicles 2008

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Business Column

GETTING THE BUILDERS IN

There was much work to do in the flats on St Peter's Street. The hallways looked scruffy, there was damp visible in Flat 4 & the basement flat was being rendered near-uninhabitable by damp. Ken decided that this year's rent profit should be sacrificed to getting the building Sorted Out. Hopefully, this would be done by August. Dream on! Graham the Builder decided, with many weeks delay & after starting work, that he did not want to carry on, thus destroying a 14 year relationship. It took ages to find "Freddie", actually Farid, an Iranian, who did a great job on his bit in Flat 4 but was not cheap. Ken did all the decoration work in the hall & Alan the Damp Man got stuck into the basement. While he was at it, Ken got John the Window Man to put in double glazing at the front of the top two flats & at the rear hall window & also installed free wireless internet in the building, which worked immediately with the Apple Mac users but after a struggle with the Microsoft Windows victims. No change out of £15,000 altogether!

YOU COULD NOT MAKE THIS UP
a business travel tale

We received a telephone call on December 27th from an American, best just named X, who was interested in Ken as a pupil of Emile Spira, Emile being a pupil of Anton Webern. We had a long chat, although my goodness: he was full of himself. But he seems a useful contact. There was much exchange of e-mails & telephone calls, in which X gave the impression that he was a rich hedge-fund trader prepared to support the Arts with cash, including concerts for Ken's music & dealers for Avis' artworks. He caused some chaos by trying to get the Estorick Collection to store modern Venetian music scores. Ken said there would not be space but X, we were to discover, never listens to qualified advice & involved the prominent British composer, Geoffrey King, in the scheme. Naturally, Roberta, the Director of the Estorick, said there was no room. By the middle of the year, he had arranged that we visit Venice & stay with Baron Ernesto Rubin de Cervin Albrizzi in the Palazzo Albrizzi. Ernesto is a good composer & teacher, a rare aristocrat who can actually do something.

But X had also said he would visit London as he said he was interested in Avis' paintings (She was a painter from 1946, top in Art at school, to 1976 though many friends who receive our card only know her as a printmaker and many have bought prints). So we made a great effort to take down the prints & hang the paintings in our house, having had a pair of paintings (shown on our website) ‘Glorious Anarchy’ and ‘Dolor Dolorosa’ from the late sixties (each five feet long) newly framed at vast expense. Avis had about fifty paintings from 1956-61, very up-to- date or even ahead of their time, newly mounted. When X finally said he couldn’t get to London before Venice, Ken made a colour catalogue of around a hundred of the paintings, to take to show X in Venice. X also changed his mind about when he & his wife would come to Venice, leaving us with the embarrassment of arrivng at Ernesto's Palace cold, especially as he turned out to be partially sighted.

Evening views from our flat in Venice ...

... on top of the ...

... Palazzo Albrizzi

However, we were made very welcome & had a large flat on the top floor to stay in. Before, Ken had sent a DVD with all 17.5 hours of his music to X in mp3 format. X responded with comments that made no sense whatsoever, a premonition of what was to come. We met Lea Gergeme, an Art critic but she said she was unable to judge the catalogue of Avis' paintings, which X was supposed to show to art dealers in the USA. Two days after we arrived in Venice, an Austrian composer, Dr Dominik Sedivy, arrived on the red-eye train from Vienna. We made him comfortable, to his amazement & awaiting the arrival of X at lunch time, went to the art show (mostly crap) that Lea was reviewing. That evening, we met other Venetian composers, including Luca Mosca & Claudio Ambrosini, Ernesto running a salon in 18th Century style. His butler, Rudi, is a Peruvian engineer but a model of his butler calling, also cooking in interesting ways as well as putting Jeeves to shame. Things started to go pear-shaped the next afternoon. Dominik & Ken warned X about the delicacy of musical politics in Vienna & we were introduced to Nuria Schönberg, the daughter of Arnold Schönberg & widow of Luigi Nono.

Across the Giudecca (to where the Nono Centre is)

Nuria Schönberg-Nono

Us at the Nono Centre

Schönberg Centre Vienna

X put up a totally unacceptable proposition of holding concerts in Vienna of Schönberg's & Hauer's music, a political faux pas. Nuria was non-commital but Dominik & Ken could see a rejection in disguise, which passed X completely by. That Saturday night, there was an even bigger salon & the composers' wives insisted on looking at Avis' catalogue, which allowed X to bad-mouth us to Ernesto after we had gone home. We then took the train to Vienna & stayed two nights in the central Hotel Kärntnerhof. If X had been better at keeping to plans, we would have flown home from there. We had a day in Vienna, where we met some delightful other composers, thanks to Dominik & had a sticky meeting in the Schönberg Centre, X having ignored our warnings. Ken had to write an e-mail dissociating us from X's plan when we got home & received an over-courteous reply to 'Dear Professor Baldry...'. Then, another day's train ride back to Venice. We felt unable to express our feelings to X because of the necessity of keeping the peace in the train compartment for 8 hours! But during this time, X bad-mouthed Avis' painting catalogue on presentation grounds, where it is presented in the usual Gallery style. As we left for the airport, Ken asked some sharp questions of X, who evaded answers by his usual motor-mouth technique. We fell out massively with him by e-mail after.

It would appear he had been, & is still is, stringing these composers along with promises of performances which, in our opinion, will never take place. Either he is a nobody trying to become somebody by association with people who really are somebodys or (in Ken's opinion) he is mentally ill. His Shanghai-born wife largely kept very quiet during the trip & is much younger than he, who made extravagant claims for her academic record. We believe she is a mail-order bride. X does not appear on the Internet, despite having made claims for his web site.The one good thing X did for Avis was to cause her to review her work & show the catalogue to dealers & others. We are keeping in touch with some of the international crowd from Ernesto’s wonderful salon evenings who loved Avis' work and asked her if she was having an exhibition in Venice.

You could not make this up!

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Contact: Ken Baldry or Avis Saltsman, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)020 7359 6294 or e-mail him or her
This page's URL: http://www.art-science.com/Xmas2008/business.html Last revised 30/11/2008
©Ken Baldry 2008 All rights reserved but print it off if you want to.