Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Allan Ulrich

Bay Area critic - of music, dance, and probably other things - Allan Ulrich has died at 78. The cause was cancer.

I knew Allan professionally; we saw each other in the press room at the War Memorial Opera House and at intermissions and press rooms elsewhere. Joshua Kosman's obituary mentions "erudite, acerbic and elegantly crafted writing" and that was quite right. He was enormously knowledgable, had heard or seen everyone, and, like a good critic, he had Opinions.

He also had great confidence in his own writing. During his freelance years, he sometimes wrote for SFCV. I understand that this arrangement ended when one of Bob Commanday's successors had the nerve to edit Allan's review of Doctor Atomic.

Friends of mine remember Allan from the 70s; one mentioned working with  him at Francis Ford Coppola's City Magazine, while the other knew him as "a stalwart volunteer in the Drama and Literature Department" at KPFA.

Allan had...a reputation (see "acerbic" above), but he was always very kind and respectful to me. We talked a fair amount in and out of press rooms, about the performance in progress, favorite performers, etc. I remember one particular exchange a few years ago when he was reading Wesley Stace's Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, a fabulous book about composers, reviewers, and..other things. We were chatting about it and two other reviewers were listening. It was like being in a tiny, secret book club.

RIP, Allan; I'm sorry that you're gone.

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