Letter: A Lyttle venom

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The Independent Online
Sir: I don't question any critic's right to give me a bad review; in fact, I'd defend such a right. However, John Lyttle's television review (28 June) of Larry - My Life of Music goes beyond that right. It is amazingly venomous - what have I done to this man? - and in instances factually untrue.

Mr Lyttle writes:

(the programme) was always going to be a living hell. But it is hard to imagine who could have watched this 'musical' bio-doc of Larry Adler with any joy.

Was anyone made to watch it?

And oh, how he had enriched the lives of those he touched, no matter how briefly.

Where do I give that impression?

This did not stop the viewer from wishing vindictive wishes as the Oscar-nominated composer of Genevieve bestrode the stage of the Royal Albert Hall to express surprise that the audience should have remembered his birthday (yeah, sure) and perform sadistically lengthy excerpts from Ravel, Debussy and Gershwin.

Here, Mr Lyttle is even nastier than usual: the '(yeah, sure)' suggests a plant in the audience and that I'd staged my reaction. If I expressed surprise when the National Harmonica League stood up in the second row and played Happy Birthday, it was because I was surprised. There were less than 24 bars of Bolero; less than one- half of Clair de Lune and a short excerpt from the andante movement of Rhapsody in Blue.

It would be tedious to recite any more of Mr Lyttle's errors, which range from the trivial to the serious, but let me just add a few further facts that need recording. I did not mention an 'affair' with Ingrid Bergman; I was never exiled from the US; and at least two of the stories I told were not 'memories buffed and polished', but were told here for the first time; and, finally, the programme was not scripted, the director asked me questions and my replies were recorded.



London, NW3

30 June