Obituary: music critic Andrew Porter, 86

Posted on: April 6, 2015

In Friday’s (4/3) New Yorker, Alex Ross calls Andrew Porter, the classical music critic of The New Yorker from 1972 to 1992 who died on Thursday, “the most formidable classical-music critic of the late twentieth century, and, pace George Bernard Shaw and Virgil Thomson, may have been the finest practitioner of this unsystematic art in the history of the English language…. Porter was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1928, and studied music from an early age, acquiring considerable facility as an organist. He went to Oxford to pursue music and literature, and soon detoured into criticism, establishing himself at the Financial Times in the nineteen-fifties…. He was also active as a scholar, and won a place in music history by discovering …  a substantial quantity of music cut from the original version of Verdi’s ‘Don Carlos.’ … Porter’s New Yorker columns were a mesmerizing fusion of criticism, scholarship, and cultural commentary.… His house, in Kensington … was overrun by a vast collection of books, records, and scores…. There was even an auxiliary flat, a couple of doors down, to accommodate the overflow. I trust that this library, sufficient to serve a small university, will find a worthy home. But the magnificent brain that went grazing there is gone.”

Posted April 6, 2015