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Aldrich, Richard (1863-1937), music critic  

Victor Fell Yellin

Aldrich, Richard (31 July 1863–02 June 1937), music critic, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Elisha Smith Aldrich, a merchant, and Anna Elizabeth Gladding. His father, who sang in the Arion Choral Society under Jules Jordan, presumably encouraged the young Aldrich to pursue his interest in music. After graduating from public high school in 1881, Aldrich was admitted to Harvard College, where, besides taking regular humanities courses, he studied music with ...


Apthorp, William Foster (1848-1913), music critic and writer  

Ora Frishberg Saloman

Apthorp, William Foster (24 October 1848–19 February 1913), music critic and writer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Robert Apthorp and Eliza Hunt. Since before the American Revolution, Apthorp’s ancestors had participated in the mercantile and intellectual life of Boston. After studying languages, art, and music for four years in France, Germany, and Italy, Apthorp returned with his family to Boston in 1860. Deciding upon a career in music rather than in art, he entered Harvard College and studied piano, theory, and counterpoint with ...


Chávez, Carlos (1899-1978), influential Mexican composer/conductor, author, and educator, of Spanish and some Indian descent  

Robert Rollin

Chávez, Carlos (13 June 1899–02 August 1978), influential Mexican composer/conductor, author, and educator, of Spanish and some Indian descent, was born Carlos Antonio de Padua Chávez y Ramírez in Mexico City, the seventh son of Augustin Chávez, an inventor, and Juvencia Ramírez, a teacher. His mother supported the children after her husband’s death in 1902. Chávez began his musical studies at an early age and studied piano, first with his elder brother Manuel, then with Asunción Parra, and later with composer and pianist Manuel M. Ponce (1910–1914) and pianist and teacher Pedro Luis Ogazón (1915–1920). Chávez credited Ogazón with introducing him to the best classical and Romantic music and with developing his musical taste and technical formation. He received little formal training in composition, concentrating instead on the piano, analysis of musical scores, and orchestration. Chávez’s maternal grandfather was Indian, and from the time Chávez was five or six his family frequently vacationed in the ancient city-state of Tlaxcala, the home of a tribe that opposed the Aztecs. He later visited such diverse Indian centers as Puebla, Jalisco, Nayarit, and Michoacan in pursuit of Indian culture, which proved a significant influence on his early works....


Cover Chávez, Carlos (1899-1978)
Carlos Chávez Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1937. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103962).


Chotzinoff, Samuel (1889-1964), music critic, author, and pianist  

James A. Drake

Chotzinoff, Samuel (04 July 1889–09 February 1964), music critic, author, and pianist, was born Shmul Chotzinoff in Vitebsk, Russia, the son of Moyshe Bear, a retail merchant, and Rachel Traskenoff. A promising piano student from the age of ten, Samuel emigrated with his parents to the United States at age seventeen, where he continued his piano studies with Oscar Shack at Columbia University. He left Columbia in 1911 without receiving a diploma (although he would receive an honorary doctorate from the university in 1947)....


Downes, Olin (1886-1955), music critic  

Ron Wiecki

Downes, Olin (27 January 1886–22 August 1955), music critic, was born Edwin Olin Downes in Evanston, Illinois, the son of Edwin Quigley and Louise C. Downes. Downes’s music education included study of harmony with Homer Norris in Boston and piano lessons with Louis Kelterborn and ...


Dwight, John Sullivan (1813-1893), music critic  

Jean W. Thomas

Dwight, John Sullivan (13 May 1813–05 September 1893), music critic, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John Dwight, a physician and radical freethinker, and Mary Corey. He attended Boston Latin School and graduated from Harvard College in 1832, where he was active in its musical club, the Pierian Sodality; in 1836 he graduated from Harvard Divinity School. Along with friends from Harvard, he was an original member of the Transcendental Club; its members’ religious, literary, and philosophical views, reflecting the influence of Immanuel Kant, pitted them against the prevailing Calvinist orthodoxy and Unitarian rationalism. He was also an early follower of Associationism, a movement based on precepts of universal harmony advanced by the utopian philosopher ...


Feather, Leonard (1914-1994), jazz writer and jazz and blues promoter, producer, and songwriter  

Barry Kernfeld

Feather, Leonard (13 September 1914–22 September 1994), jazz writer and jazz and blues promoter, producer, and songwriter, was born Leonard Geoffrey Feather in London, England, the son of Nathan Feather, the owner of a chain of clothing stores, and Felicia Zelinski. Feather described his upbringing thus: “In these upper-middle-class Jewish circles conformity was expected in every area of life.” He studied classical piano and clarinet while teaching himself to play pop songs on piano. At age fifteen, deeply moved by trumpeter ...


Finck, Henry Theophilus (1854-1926), music critic and author  

Victor Fell Yellin

Finck, Henry Theophilus (22 September 1854–01 October 1926), music critic and author, was born Henry Gottlob Finck in Bethel, Missouri, the son of Henry Conrad Finck, an apothecary, physician, and amateur musician, and Beatrice Fink. As immigrants from the area near Stuttgart, Germany, Finck’s parents settled in America in a German Christian Socialist community. Finck was given music lessons by his father and began to play the cello at age seven. Although he never became a professional performer, this experience helped him gain social entrée as a chamber player and prepared him for his life’s work, writing about music. In 1862 the family migrated with their colony to Aurora, Oregon, where Finck received an education that prepared him to enter Harvard College in 1872. At Harvard, Finck was greatly influenced in the humanities by ...


Flanagan, William (1923-1969), composer and journalist  

Ruth C. Friedberg

Flanagan, William (14 August 1923–01 September 1969), composer and journalist, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of William Flanagan and Elona (maiden name unknown), both of whom worked for the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. As his was a nonmusical family, Flanagan received very little training as a child besides exposure to the scores of ...


Fry, William Henry (1813-1864), composer, journalist, and music critic  

Barbara L. Tischler

Fry, William Henry (10 August 1813–21 December 1864), composer, journalist, and music critic, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Fry, publisher of the National Gazette, and Ann Fleeson. Fry began his musical education by listening to his older brother’s piano lessons. He composed an overture while a student at Mount St. Mary’s School in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and afterward studied theory and composition in Philadelphia with Leopold Meignen, a graduate of the Paris Conservatory. Fry was eager to make his musical mark early, and he composed three more overtures before his twentieth birthday....


Gilman, Lawrence (1878-1939), music critic and scholar  

Alan Levy

Gilman, Lawrence (05 July 1878–08 September 1939), music critic and scholar, was born in the Flushing section of Queens, New York, the son of Arthur Coit Gilman, a tea and coffee broker, and Bessie Lawrence. Gilman was educated in the New York public schools. As a boy he learned to play piano and organ. His formal training was not in music but rather in art at the Collins Street Classical School in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1896 Gilman launched a journalistic career, working as an illustrator for the ...


Gleason, Ralph Joseph (1917-1975), journalist and music critic  

James T. Fisher

Gleason, Ralph Joseph (01 March 1917–03 June 1975), journalist and music critic, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Ralph A. Gleason and Mary Quinlisk. Gleason traced his devotion to jazz music to a day when, suffering from a case of the measles that kept him home from high school in Chappaqua, New York, he heard the music of ...


Haggin, B. H. (1900-1987), music critic  

James A. Drake

Haggin, B. H. (29 December 1900–29 May 1987), music critic, was born Bernard H. Haggin in New York City, the son of Byron Haggin and Dorothea (maiden name unknown). Educated in Manhattan schools, Haggin studied music from a historical rather than a performance perspective but showed a particular ability as a writer during his student days. Too young for military service during World War I, he completed his high school education near the war’s end in 1918 and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York in 1922. The next year he published his first music review, thereby launching a commercial writing career that would span more than fifty years....


Hammond, John Henry, Jr. (1910-1987), critic and producer of jazz and popular music  

Neil Leonard

Hammond, John Henry, Jr. (15 December 1910–10 July 1987), critic and producer of jazz and popular music, was born in New York City, the son of John Henry Hammond, corporate lawyer, and Emily Vanderbilt Sloane. Born to privilege, Hammond used his wealth and position, along with considerable resourcefulness and conviction, to promote primarily black music through the 1940s in ways that profoundly influenced its development and international acceptance. He later branched out to produce important folk and rock recordings....


Hentoff, Nat (10 June 1925–7 Jan. 2017), writer and social critic  

Ann T. Keene

Hentoff, Nat (10 June 1925–7 Jan. 2017), writer and social critic, was born Nathan Irving Hentoff in Boston to Simon Hentoff, a haberdasher, and Lena Katzenberg Hentoff. Both parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia. From an early age young Nat, as he was known, read widely and absorbed the intense political discussions that swirled around him in his Jewish working-class neighborhood, populated mostly by émigrés who were variously socialists, communists, and anarchists. Growing up in an Orthodox household, he often encountered anti-Semitism when he ventured outside his immediate milieu, giving him, he later recalled, an intense sympathy for the underdog. That experience also engendered a fierce desire to excel that gained him entrance to the Boston Latin School, a public institution that admitted only the brightest students in the city....


Huneker, James Gibbons (1857-1921), critic, essayist, and musician  

Sherrill V. Martin

Huneker, James Gibbons (31 January 1857–09 February 1921), critic, essayist, and musician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Joseph Huneker, a prosperous housepainter and decorator, and Mary Gibbons, a schoolteacher. Huneker was introduced to the world of music, drama, and art by his father, who owned one of the largest private collections of prints in the United States; his interest in literature was fostered by his mother, the daughter of the Irish printer and poet James Gibbons. After attending Philadelphia’s Broad Street Academy (1865–1872), Huneker began a five-year apprenticeship in law before discovering his chief interest, music. In 1875 he started piano lessons with one of Philadelphia’s outstanding teachers, Michael Cross, and began writing music critiques and articles for the ...


Krehbiel, Henry Edward (1854-1923), music critic and historian  

Linda C. Ferguson

Krehbiel, Henry Edward (10 March 1854–20 March 1923), music critic and historian, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the son of Jacob Krehbiel, an itinerant Methodist minister, and Anna Marie E. Haacke. Henry, the third of nine children, attended public schools in Michigan and after 1864 in Cincinnati, where the Central German Methodist Conference assigned his father to a position. In Cincinnati, Krehbiel studied violin with Gelsselbecht and harmony with Baetens and directed the choir at his father’s church. He had no university education, although he studied law briefly from 1872 to 1874. Krehbiel secured a position at the Cincinnati ...


Mason, Daniel Gregory (1873-1953), composer, writer, and teacher  

Andrea Kalyn

Mason, Daniel Gregory (20 November 1873–04 December 1953), composer, writer, and teacher, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the son of Henry Mason, president and co-founder of Mason and Hamlin Company, and Helen Augusta Palmer. The youngest of four sons, Mason spent an idyllic childhood in a comfortable suburban home so saturated with music that it became for him, as he reflected in his autobiography, “the most vivid thing in the world.” When Mason was twelve he moved with his family to Boston and in 1891 entered Harvard University, graduating in 1895....


Parker, H. T. (1867-1934), dance, music, and theater critic  

Doris Hering

Parker, H. T. (29 April 1867–30 March 1934), dance, music, and theater critic, was born Henry Taylor Parker in Boston, the son of William Fisk Parker and Susan Sophia Taylor Parker, whose occupations are unknown. He entered Harvard University in 1886 but apparently left in 1889 without graduating. He was immediately attracted to the writing of criticism and acquired the dual position of New York correspondent of the ...