THE BELGIAN MUSIC theorist François-Joseph Fétis, subject of countless tales in Thomas Christensen's Stories of Tonality, might easily be mistaken for a fictional character. Would a real music theorist dare to “correct” the dissonance in Mozart's “Dissonance” quartet (Fétis 1829), smear Pythagoras as “a charlatan, indeed, probably the most dishonorable one that ever lived” (Fétis 1828: 468n1), or deplore the entire history of the field as “the constant and almost always barren efforts of a vast number of erudite men” (Fétis 1840: iv)? Did the general public really pack the halls of the Conservatoire for his blockbuster lectures on theory, forcing luminaries such as Liszt to sneak into the auditorium through the back door? Was he actually the author of a sham Stradella and a counterfeit Cavalieri? Would a serious academic have the audacity to claim “the honor of...

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