Recording the Classics Recording the Classics

Phantom Flautist

The Internet, with its many online trading sites, makes it much easier to find quality secondhand books than in the past, though some are much harder to find than others. Top spot on the rare list must surely be a first edition copy of the 1980 New Grove Dictionary Of Music And Musicians.


Buried inside – on p252 to be exact – there was a run-of-the-mill entry for Dag Henrik Esrum-Hellerup, a 19th century Danish flautist, conductor and composer. The entry not only gave his family history, but listed his musical achievements and noted that he published a translation of Quantz's famous treatise on flute-playing.

But the index of international composers compiled by the Performing Rights Society, showed no entry for Esrum-Hellerup. His surname derives from a Danish village and a suburb in Copenhagen. 'His' entry – and another for Italian composer Guglielmo Baldini, (born Ferrara, c1540; died c1589) – were both phoney.

Both were removed from later editions, as well as from later printings of the 1980 edition. To the best of my knowledge the culprit never owned up, or was caught.