October 24, 2006


Author cons UK and US publishers with bogus book (Daily Mail, 5th October 2006)

In the sometimes highly strung world of the classical violin, they were today trying to get to grips with the fiddling of Rohan Kriwaczek.

A busker, violinist, clarinetist, flautist and bagpipe player, who graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 1994, he brought murmurs of acclaim from the academic publishers, Duckworth, for his learned tome on the lost art of the funerary violin.

In 208 pages he told how the Guild of Funerary Violinists – motto Nullus Funus Sine Fidula (No Funeral Without A Fiddle) - had been established in 1580, received a Royal warrant from Queen Elizabeth 1, flourished under practitioners like George Babcotte and Herr Hieronymous Gratchenfleiss, and was almost wiped out by the "great funerary purges of the 1830’s and 40s."

Such was the fervour of the art, he said, that violinists duelled with each other at funerals to see who could wring the most tears from mourners.

Duckworth’s owner Peter Mayer, who also owns the American publishing house Overlook, reputedly paid Kriwaczek – acting president of the Guild of Funerary Violinists - more than £1,000 for the book: 'An Incomplete History of the Art of the Funerary Violin' which is currently on sale in Britain for £14.99.

Except, as has now been discovered, there is, nor never was, any such thing as a funerary violin, nor a guild, nor a Royal warrant, nor a history, let alone an incomplete one.

Yesterday, as Mr Kriwaczek, 38, kept a low profile, Mr Mayer told how he had been taken in by him at a meeting last year.

"In he walks, deadly serious with his violin," he said. "I ask him a whole bunch of questions. He gave more or less credible answers to them. Some of them he said 'I can’t answer Mr Mayer, because it is a secret society and it is dying out.'

"Maybe I have been fooled. It is possible. But it reads so extraordinarily serious and passionate. If it is a hoax, I can only say, I have my cap off.

"I just thought, whether it is true or not true, it is the work of some crazy genius. If it is a hoax, it is a brilliant, brilliant hoax."

Isn't a sufficiently brilliant hoax a work of art itself?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2006 8:11 AM

If he'd only portrayed them as competitors to the Builderburgers and the Trilateral Commission, as a secret society bent on world domination, his creation would have outlived him with a life of his own.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 24, 2006 11:21 AM

I'd guess Orson Welles and George Plimpton would agree.

Posted by: Rick T at October 24, 2006 11:24 AM

What arrant nonsense. Apparently when made-up stories are so well done and realistic that they fool "experts" into believing they're true, they get moved out of the fiction category and condemned as hoaxes. I hope this book makes a mint for the poor struggling fiddle player.

Posted by: erp at October 24, 2006 2:14 PM