Leading critics of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, clockwise, from left to right:

Western classical music has a substantial history of music criticism, and many individuals have established careers as music critics. However, concert reviews are not always credited in the daily and weekly newspapers, especially those in the early to mid-20th Century. This selective list of chief music critics (or equivalent title, influence or status) aims to make it easier to find the likely author of a review, or at least the influence of the chief music critic on what was covered and how.

Journalistic newspaper criticism of Western music did not properly emerge until the 1840s. Before then, in England, Joseph Addison had contributed essays on music to The Spectator in Handel's era. Former opera impresario Willian Ayrton began writing occasional musical criticism for The Morning Chronicle (1813–26) and The Examiner (1837–51) and founded the monthly music journal The Harmonicon in 1823.[1] Arts and literary magazines such as The Athenæum (and its critic H F Chorley, writing from 1830 to 1868) sometimes covered musical topics. Specialist music paper The Musical World began publication in 1836 and The Musical Times in 1844. In France, the composer Hector Berlioz wrote reviews and criticisms for the Paris press of the 1830s and 1840s,[2] as did other French writers such as Gérard de Nerval and François-Joseph Fétis.[3] In Germany, Robert Schumann began giving influential reviews for the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik in the 1830s.[4] But The Morning Post in England was the first daily newspaper to regularly publish concert reports, while The Times is generally recognised as being the first to appoint a professionally competent music critic, J W Davidson, in 1846.[5] Throughout the mid-to-late 1800s Eduard Hanslick became a leading figure in Austria, writing for the Neue Freie Presse.[6]

The presence of music criticism continued to grow, and by the 20th century numerous major newspapers had joined The Morning Post and Times in establishing permanent music critic posts, including The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Observer and The Sunday Times in Britain, and the Chicago Tribune, New York Herald Tribune and The New York Times in America. The late 19th and early 20th century saw the development of a uniquely American school of criticism, inaugurated by an informal group of New York-based, termed the 'Old Guard', which included Richard Aldrich, Henry Theophilus Finck, William James Henderson, James Huneker and Henry Edward Krehbiel.[7][8] Other leading critics of this time included John Alexander Fuller Maitland, Samuel Langford and Ernest Newman in Britain, and Paul Bekker in Germany.

After World War II, leading critics included Eric Blom, Neville Cardus, Martin Cooper, Olin Downes, Harold C. Schonberg and Virgil Thomson. Influential music critics from the late 20th century include Martin Bernheimer, Robert Commanday, Richard Dyer, Michael Kennedy and Michael Steinberg. In the 21st century fewer newspapers have dedicated critics for classical music, but writers have still been active, such as Alex Ross at The New Yorker, Anthony Tommasini at The New York Times and both Tim Page and Anne Midgette at The Washington Post.

List by publication

Aftonbladet (Sweden)

The Atlas (UK)

Birmingham Post (UK)

The Boston Globe (USA)

The Boston Herald (USA)

George Putnam Upton, critic of the Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune (USA)

Daily Express (UK)

Daily Graphic (UK)

Daily Herald (UK)

Daily Mail (UK)

Daily News (UK)

Joseph Bennett in 1910
Joseph Bennett in 1910

The Daily Telegraph (USA)

Evening News (UK)

Evening Standard (known as The Standard, 1827–1904) (UK)

Financial Times (UK)

Paul Bekker in c. 1925–27
Paul Bekker in c. 1925–27

Frankfurter Zeitung (Germany)

Glasgow Herald (UK)

The Guardian (until 1959 The Manchester Guardian) (UK)

The Independent (UK)

Los Angeles Daily News (USA)

Los Angeles Times (USA)

The Morning Chronicle (UK)

The Morning Post (UK)

Münchner Neueste Nachrichten (Germany)

Neue Freie Presse (Austria)

Portrait of Eduard Hanslick, 40 years old
Portrait of Eduard Hanslick, 40 years old

Neues Wiener Tagblatt (Austria)

News Chronicle (UK)

New Statesman (UK)

The New Yorker (USA)

New York Daily News (USA)

New York Herald Tribune (USA)

New York Post (USA)

The New York Sun (USA)

The New York Times (USA)

Richard Aldrich, c. 1918
Richard Aldrich, c. 1918

The New York World (USA)

The Observer (UK)

Philadelphia Inquirer (USA)

The Plain Dealer (USA)

San Francisco Chronicle (USA)

San Francisco Examiner (USA)

William Barclay Squire in 1904

Saturday Review (UK)

The Scotsman (UK)

La Stampa (Italy)

The Star (UK)

Sunday Express (UK)

The Sunday Telegraph (UK)

The Sunday Times (UK)

The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

Der Tagesspiegel (Germany)

Le Temps (France)

James William Davison – Pencil sketch of a daguerrotype, c. 1857
James William Davison – Pencil sketch of a daguerrotype, c. 1857

The Times (UK)

Toronto Star (Canada)

The Yorkshire Post (UK)

Anne Midgette in 2020
Anne Midgette in 2020

The Washington Post (USA)

See also

References

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Sources