This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 28, 2003 1:07 AM. The previous post in this blog was Cough, cough. The next post in this blog is How lovely it was. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, July 28, 2003

Neither right nor wrong

Harold Schonberg, the chief music critic for The New York Times in the '60s and '70s, died over the weekend. They don't give out too many Pulitzer Prizes to music critics, but Schonberg was so good that he won one.

Schonberg was a most accomplished and colorful writer. He was not too shabby a pianist himself, and so he knew what he was talking about. Back when I was first learning about classical music around 1970, his reviews were a significant part of the educational process. A few years later, I was a professional newspaperman myself, and so I can relate well to the picture of him, at the manual typewriter and squinting through the sting of cigarette smoke. (I hope he gave those up, as I did. In any event, he made it to age 87.) Of course, to compare me with Schonberg then would be like comparing me with Shakespeare now. But he set standards for journalism and music appreciation to which many of us could at least aspire.

You blog pundits out there should get a kick out of this quote:

I'd be dead if I tried to please a particular audience. Criticism is only informed opinion. I write a piece that is a personal reaction based, hopefully, on a lot of years of study, background, scholarship and whatever intuition I have. It's not a critic's job to be right or wrong; it's his job to express an opinion in readable English.
In the late critic's honor, tonight we'll dust off some Guiomar Novaes recordings of Chopin, and remember for a few minutes the feel of a crisp morning newspaper bearing the Schonberg byline.

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