Dr Christopher Wiley has contributed an article to The Conversation UK, reflecting on aspects of Stephen Fry’s open letter on Russia’s controversial new anti-gay laws (which called for a ban on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi) from his own perspective as musicologist, scholar, and teacher.
One claim that Fry made in his letter about the potential consequences of exploring Tchaikovsky’s sexuality and its relationship to his life and work under Russia’s controversial new legislation prompted Dr Wiley to reconsider elements of his own research on musical biography, not just on Tchaikovsky but also on Britten and Ethel Smyth.
Published on 12 August 2013 shortly after Fry’s letter went viral, Dr Wiley’s article, ‘Academics should stand with Fry against anti-gay Russia’, broke new ground for The Conversation UK for its content. It soon received thousands of views, helped in part by a mention by Fry himself on Twitter three days after it originally appeared.
The Conversation UK is an independent news and commentary website offering in-depth analysis, research, news, and ideas from academics and researchers, and has received over 300,000 visitors since its launch three months ago. Modelled on its successful Australian counterpart, its founding partners comprise 13 UK universities including City University London and the University of Surrey.
Since the article was originally published, The Guardian reported on 25 August 2013 that that a Russian biopic about Tchaikovsky toned down the composer’s sexuality for fear of facing repercussions under the new legislation.