Liz and Chris were drafted in at short notice this month by publisher Cannongate to handle the publicity around an autobiography by concert pianist James Rhodes, in which he recalls how music helped him survive the legacy of the sexual abuse that he suffered as a child.
For the past year, the book’s publication has been delayed by the Court of Appeal, with Rhodes’ ex-wife calling on an arcane piece of legislature to make the case that discussing the abuse in public would have a detrimental effect on their 12-year-old son. In what has been hailed as a victory for freedom of expression, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling on Wednesday 20 May, meaning that the memoir Instrumental has now been published this Thursday. During the case Rhodes received the support of over 20 leading authors and playwrights, as well as free speech campaigners English PEN, Article 19 and Index on Censorship.
On leaving the court, surrounded by his wife, publisher Jamie Byng, and close friend Benedict Cumberbatch, he was greeted by the Guardian, the BBC and a crew from PA. This was followed by emotional interviews on BBC World at One, 5 Live and Newsnight. Blanket newspaper coverage the following day and over the bank holiday weekend was unanimously supportive of the decision to permit publication. With James’ aid, the team have arranged interviews with ITV’s This Morning, the Evening Standard and Mail on Sunday.
Instrumental is an impassioned tribute to the therapeutic powers of music, as well as an insightful look at the workings of classical music and the extraordinary lives of some of the great composers. With the media frenzy surrounding the book, it’s sure to be a runaway success commercially, but more importantly a personal milestone for Rhodes.