You say Elgar, I say Edgar ...

Image of David Tang

Sir David Tang, entrepreneur and founder of ICorrect, offers advice on questions about property, interiors – and modern manners for globetrotters.

A couple of suggestions: write about what you know and/or get a proof reader/editor to check things. Assuming that the first suggestion does not completely silence you, you would avoid such solecisms as Edgar’s [cello] concerto and not knowing that there are two cello concertos by Haydn, one in D major frequently played over the past two centuries, and one in C major unearthed in 1961 in the National Museum in Prague. But perhaps that’s all a bit highbrow for your readers.

Who is this pompous man who dares to challenge the calibre of the FT’s readership? For the sake of argument, I will call him Mr B. The point is that he thinks you are all lowbrow. He is a marked man. As for his pathetic broadside, I should point out that there was no mistake. I was referring to Edgar of Edgar Meyer and not Sir Edward Elgar. The former is a prominent composer from Tennessee, whose concerto for bass and cello is clearly beyond the radar of knowledge of Mr B.

As for the Haydn concerto, only a pedant like Mr B would bring up the more obscure version whose identity is not even 100 per cent proven. I am sometimes accused of being mean to my correspondents. But on this occasion I can’t think why I should exercise any restraint in exposing Mr B as being irritatingly conceited and too clever by a quarter.

And why should he assume that I know nothing about music? As it happens, I have been for years an adviser to the London Symphony Orchestra and the English Chamber Orchestra; and have worked with both the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square in giving concerts at Cadogan Hall.

I am also a member of the Chairman’s Circle at the South Bank; a director of the Glenn Gould Foundation; and a governor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom I have performed. I also founded the London University Chamber Society nearly 30 years ago, and have given a few concerts and musical events in my time, the last of which was at the Barbican in September last year, onstage with Stephen Fry and Tim Lihoreau from Classic FM. To boot, for 14 years I have been president of the London Bach Society. Who does Mr B think he is? Sir George Grove?

Yesterday I was entertained even more than usual by your entertaining column – with the FT’s delicious typo. I imagine they should have said Elgar in preference to Edgar? I am reminded of the young son of some dear friends who used to call The Magic Flute “The Tragic Flute”. On being asked why, he simply replied: “I don’t like it.” No answer to that. I hope you are keeping well.

Please see my answer above. I think Mr B is tragic.

I was flying to Cape Town on South African Airways yesterday, reading the Weekend FT. At the start of the descent, as the seat belt sign was lit, a stewardess brusquely told me to place my reading material in the seat pocket beside me as I was seated at an emergency exit. I was not allowed to finish reading your entertaining column, even though touchdown was 30,000ft and many minutes away. How would you, a seasoned traveller, have responded?

I will definitely have a word with South African Airways and tell them that as my column aims to make my readers (other than the likes of Mr B) amused, and therefore relaxed, it would induce the best and calmest conditions for their passengers coming to land. Therefore, especially at weekends, the reading of that distinct salmon-pink copy of the Financial Times should be made compulsory, just like the wearing of seat belts, for each and every passenger in the last 20 minutes of their descent.

A question on shirt colour in hot climates? An answer concluded with a Jack Lord “joke” that wasn’t funny 20 years ago? Is this the best you can find in your overflowing basket of submissions? I know one has to fill a certain number of column inches every week, but egad! Worst of all is the reaction of my lady, who usually adores your incisive wit and snark. But not tonight! For you it’s a one-off damp squib, but I have to live with her.

You are lucky that I have already emptied my belligerence on Mr B. Otherwise, I would have asked you and your lady of the night to develop a deeper sense of humour.

Email questions to

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.