I was reading about Ignace Pleyel. He was a composer and piano builder in the Classical and early Romantic era of music, and he shows up a lot, even if a little tangentially, in the stories of many of the great composers of the time.
First sentence in the wiki article under “Early Years”:
“He was born in Ruppersthal [de] in Lower Austria, the son of a schoolmaster named Martin Pleyl.”
Okay so far. Second sentence: “He was the 24th of 38 children in the family.”
Whoa! Roll over, Beethoven! This is certainly one of the more…startling…lines I have ever seen in a wiki article. I read on with interest, only to discover that the third sentence begins “While still young, he probably studied with Johann Baptist Vanhal,…”
Know what? I don;t care. I don;t care about Johann Baptist Vanhal, or his connection with Haydn, or Beethoven, or indeed much of anything else. I want to know about that family, dammit! But no. Not another word about how this worked. Thirty-six children, enough for four baseball teams, and not another word. Ye gods.
I conclude: Whoever wrote and edited this article missed the point.
Well, not that extreme. I saw this lovely music video from a 1940 Bollywood picture, fell in love with the actress, Leela Chitnes. Timeline: Had four children by the age of 20, then went and got a university degree in the 30s in India. Then was a Bollwood star for five decades, and died in Connecticut. Never stop looking people up on Wiki’
Reminds of an old Guinness Book entry about Brother Giovanni Orsenigo, a religious dentist who saved 2 million(!) teeth he extracted over his career. So what’s a “religious dentist”? Are there Catholic dentist and Lutheran dentists? Did he become a priest first and then a dentist, or the other way around? And why on earth did he save all these teeth, and how disgusting were they after all that time? Guinness doesn’t explain all that.
Because I’m bored I did some back- of- the- envelope math and determined that, if he worked an average 8-hour day 5 days a week for 40 years, he would have to pull a tooth every ~ 2 1/2 minutes (24.03 teeth per hour) to get 2MM teeth. Frankly I have my doubts. But if true it would be an impressive collection, and one I actually would have a morbid interest in seeing.
But what should Wikipedia say about the guy, other than the birth stats? I checked the sources cited for the 24 out of 38, and that’s all they say. When posting to Wikipedia, you’re limited to vérifiabilité. If that’s all the sources say, that’s all you can put in the article.
Actually, if those numbers about the number of children fathered by Martin Pleyl and J.S. Bach are correct, it tells you something about how bad infant mortality was and that people had no practical means of birth control (aside from abstinence).
Are you under the impression that a wife who is either pregnant of recovering from childbirth 100% of the time is a good way to get a lot of sex? His lack of contraceptive competence might be why he found time to write so much music.
Most likely, Pleyl Sr. had more than one wife (possibly even concurrently) and this may have included “bonus” children, both stepchildren and orphans that the family may have taken in, and the orphans may or may not have been related.
Any of this is possible, though “24th of 38” to me suggests all biological. Anyway, that’s the kind of information I would have liked in the article, and it was a disappointment to find it completely unexplained. Specifically: when did the onslaught of children begin, and when did it end? How many wives or husbands were there? Were there kids who were adopted into the family, formally or otherwise? Where did they all sleep, for goodness sake? (In shifts?) How many survived into adulthood? Inquiring minds want to know!
Northern Piper, I get it that wiki can only repeat what’s in its sources. I guess I’d wonder: is there no source out there that gives any details? (If there really isn’t, I’d wonder whether the information is actually true. Surely SOMEbody would provide details about something so noteworthy…)
Yes, I get it that SOME PEOPLE find the identity of Pleyel’s music teachers more interesting than the details of his family of origin, and that EVEN HIS PIANOMAKING BUSINESS might be of greater interest. What can I say? --Well, to quote Elizabeth Warren, “They’re just WRONG!”