Monday, August 20, 2012

Donal Henahan

Donal Henahan, former chief music critic of the Times, has died at 91. He joined the paper in 1967, succeeded Harold C. Schonberg as chief music critic in 1980, and retired from the Times in 1991.

I certainly read plenty of his reviews and articles, but darned if I remember much about them. Anyone else?


D. said...

Read him daily for ten years. Can't remember a thing. (Besides his name, that is.)

Joe Barron said...

Henahan was one of the Times' triumvirate of old-school music critics - Schoenberg and Holland were the other two - who hated Elliott Carter, and so, naturally, I regarded him as an enemy. (Carter has triumphed simply by outliving them all.) One of his reviews was the occasion for the only angry letter I ever wrote to the Times. Henahan wrote something stupid about how Carter had an undeservedly elevated reputation because academics, or the uptown music crowd, or whoever the whipping boys were that week, were "hungry for a high-culture hero." In short, he was calling us phonies. The letter I wrote began something like, "I don't care that you don't like the music of Elliott Carter, but please stop insulting those of us who do." Henahan, Holland, et al. confirmed my suspicion that critics may be good at judging performances of music they know well, but when comes to works they are unfamiliar with, especially premieres, they are as clueless as the rest of us.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I personally think that Henahan will live on in part from having utterly misjudged Nixon in China when it was new. :)

Joe Barron said...

Well, then, maybe i misjudged him. ;)