Promoter Denies Participating in 'Vatican Organist' Fraud

Classic Arts News   Promoter Denies Participating in 'Vatican Organist' Fraud
A partner at Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists, the management company who represented the organist accused of faking a Vatican position, told PlaybillArts today that the company did not embellish Massimiliano Muzzi's resume to secure him concerts in the U.S.

To the contrary, Raymond Albright said in an email, the company was a victim of Muzzi's fabrications.

"Our connection with Muzzi began when he approached us for representation in the U.S. as 'the organist of S. Pietro in Vatican,'" Albright said. " It ended as soon as we learned that he was a fraud."

European media reported last week that the 34-year-old organist toured the U.S., Europe, and Australia purporting to be the Vatican's organist. In fact, James Edward Goettsche, an American, has been the Vatican organist since 1989.

After Muzzi was unmasked, he blamed his promoters, who, according to Muzzi's lawyer, beefed up the musician's resume with phrases such as "Vatican organist."

Albright sent PlaybillArts documents that he says prove his company was not intentionally involved in any fraud. On December 26, 2005, according to Albright, Muzzi emailed the agency looking for work; he then sent a biography stating that "Pope Benedict XVI appointed Massimiliano Muzzi to be the new organist of St. Peter's Cathedral in the Vatican." Muzzi also emailed a document with an official-looking stamp from the Vatican's Secretary of State supposedly confirming his tenure as Vatican organist until 2010.

Albright said he was initially suspicious of Muzzi's claims, but meetings in Paris showed the organist to be articulate and "entirely plausible." Later communications with James Edward Goettsche and the Apostolic Delegate's Washington, D.C. office, however, confirmed that Muzzi was indeed a fraud, he said.

In an email sent to other promoters, Albright wrote: "I am embarrassed and apologetic for misleading you, although mostly I am astonished I was successfully misled (despite what I considered reasonable due diligence.) To make such a big and public claim falsely would almost guarantee being found out eventually, and that in itself added to Muzzi's credibility."

In an email to PlaybillArts, he wrote, "We are concerned that the well-respected reputation Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists has built over the 40 years we have been in business is not in any way tarnished. After all, we and many others, are the victims of con artist who appears to stop at nothing."

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