You Don’t Know Me

Today’s top story is this very odd one out of the Czech Republic, via Norway. Czech composer Barbara Skrlova was arrested in Norway after impersonating a 13-year-old boy named “Adam.” As it turns out, Skrlova has been wanted in her home country as a witness in a child-abuse case.

Norwegian police detained Skrlova on January 5 in the northern town of Tromso thinking that they had finally located a 13-year-old runaway Czech boy named Adam, whom they believed was being abused.

At the time, police had no inclination that they had ended an eight-month-long manhunt for a 33-year-old crown witness in a bizarre and intricate child-abuse case in a distant Central European country.

Skrlova, who was escorted to the Czech Republic and placed in custody earlier this week, had pretended to be Adam for four months. She even went to school in the Norwegian capital Oslo under her new identity.

Skrlova had apparently previously impersonated a teenage girl named “Anna,” who had been adopted by a woman named Klara Mauerova. Back in the spring, that deception was unmasked when Mauerova and her sister were arrested under bizarre circumstances for child-abuse; authorities suspect the sisters, and possibly Skrlova, are members of a breakaway faction of the Grail Movement, dedicated to the individualist teachings of Oskar Ernst Bernhardt, a.k.a. Abd-ru-shin, a German mystic who died in 1941. (A representative of the Grail Movement in the Czech Republic stated that the movement had cut ties with the sisters “after they added to the Grail Message with their own imaginings and fantasies”.) At this point, no one is quite sure whether Skrlova was one of the abusers or one of the abused. The case is being called “one of the strangest in Czech criminal history”.

In other, lighter news, it appears that Bollywood has found its own Jay Greenberg.

A ninth standard student from Kerala is all set to achieve a rare distinction by becoming the music composer for a feature film at the age of 13 years.

“I am very happy to get a chance to compose songs in the Malayalam movie ‘Plavilla Police’,” a jubilant Ramatheerathan told PTI after the ‘pooja’ for recording of songs at a studio here.

This is probably actually a bigger deal than Greenberg—Bollywood music composers are celebrities in their own right, rivaling the films’ stars in both billing and tabloid attention.

For his part, a film musical has inspired Norman Lebrecht to linguistic invention:

Sweeney Todd the musical is, of course, famously indestructible. I have seen it raise the roof at the Royal Opera House and in half-rehearsed college productions, with full choreography and in John Doyle’s compact version for nine singing instrumentalists. Sweeney never fails. Getting it onto screen, though, was fraught with ibstgacles.

Fraught with WAIT A MINUTE I DON’T THINK THOSE LETTERS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ALL NEXT TO EACH OTHER THAT WAY. I like it! It’s like visual onomatopoeia—you’re reading along, and then your eyes stumble over ibstgacles like, well, an insurmountable ibstgacle. Update (1/11): alas, they’ve fixed it online. Good thing I took a screenshot:

Finally, fellow church music director Frank Pesci points out this MSN story in which the seventh-fastest growing salary in America is revealed to be that paid to “music directors and composers”. (We’re tied with agricultural inspectors! We’re at least as important to the economy as detecting whether that turnip is really organic or not!) And I see by the average that some of you bourgeois pigs out there are making 50 grand a year at this. No kidding! Next time I’m out with other composers, they’re buying—and I’m ordering good beer.


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