The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music new: When do artistic license and borrowing cross over into being plagiarism and theft? Consider the controversial case of composer Osvaldo Golijov.

March 12, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

Perhaps you are have been following the controversy surrounding the contemporary composer Osvaldo Golijov (below), one of the most frequently performed stars of new music.

Golijov – pronounced GOHL-ee-ov — has been accused stealing music and passing it off as original.

Of course many composers have borrowed many tunes and more from their colleagues, often without crediting them.

But it raises some interesting questions.

Originality is art is a more thorny and complicated issue than it might seem at first. The history of art visual and music and literary, is filled with examples of “borrowings” that some intellectual property lawyers might have a field day with today, After all, it was Pablo Picasso who said, if I recall correctly, I “I don’t borrow, I steal.”

Anyway, here is a story by renowned critic Alex Ross (below) in The New Yorker Magazine’s blog about it:

And here is a story in which Golijov defends himself in an interview to the New York Times critic and writer Daniel J. Wakin:

What do you think about l’affaire Golijov? Or is it Golijov-gate?

If you have an opinion, please share it.

The Ear wants to hear.

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