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Great Artists, Lousy People

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
SC Public Radio

There are many great creative artists, including great composers, who have been mediocre human beings, not to mention any number who have been downright reprehensible human beings, or human beings whose private views we would find reprehensible if only we knew what they were. It’s all less troubling with minor or insignificant artists—if we don’t like who they are, or were, we can comfortably ignore them, and it’s no great loss. But genius complicates things. Should we vow never to look at the works of Picasso again, never to listen to the works of Wagner? Those would be valid choices, certainly, but they’d be costly ones. And I should add that they’d only be valid as personal choices, not as choices to be imposed on others. Each of us will inevitably approach these problems from a different point of view, assigning importance in different proportions and often finding ourselves making choices based on emotion and personal taste rather than on a rationally consistent philosophy.

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.