23rd January 2004 at 00:00

As a young man taking singing lessons, I was fascinated by Schubert's hair-raising song, "Der Erlkonig", attracted by the genius of the relationship that Schubert creates between the agonised voice part and the fierce turmoil of the piano.

In this book, which regrets the damage and conflict caused by lack of respect across social and economic divides, Richard Sennett refers at some length to the way that pianist Gerald Moore and baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau achieve mutual respect in their definitive recording of "Der Erlkonig". The singer, he suggests, sees rather than a hierarchical "performeraccompanist" relationship, something beyond that, where each relates in his own way to Schubert. "The talent of both men lies in their capacity to translate inkblots into feeling."

Were we able to cleave more readily - notably in education - to that kind of different but equal craftsmanship, rather than to meritocratic achievement, the world would, literally, be a better place.

Professor Sennett's book is a restless and disjointed mixture of anecdote, memory and argument, but it's always easy to read. A timely warning of the dangers of inequality not just of wealth and status but of personal worth.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now