Do you have to be cruel to be brilliant?

Depicting genius in Tár

Sir, – Finn McRedmond is right in stating that the film Tár makes “a good case for the enduring power of great art” (“Do you have to be cruel to be brilliant?”, Opinion & Analysis, February 2nd) but when she writes that JS Bach was “a misogynist who sired 20 children”, she is following the unjustified prejudice of an unsympathetic character in the film; there is no evidence that the composer hated women, however polyphiloprogenitive he was. She is certainly wrong when she calls Arthur Schopenhauer a composer who pushed his wife down the stairs: he was an unmarried philosopher. The victim of his assault was a neighbour.

However, Schopenhauer most certainly was a misogynist, as any reader of his essay On Women will know. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – The controversy surrounding Tár reminds me of a quote from Saki’s short story The Chaplet: “Monsieur Aristide Saucourt was the chef of the Grand Sybaris Hotel, and if he had an equal in his profession he had never acknowledged the fact. In his own domain he was a potentate, hedged around with the cold brutality that Genius expects rather than excuses in her children; he never forgave, and those who served him were careful that there should be little to forgive.” – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.