Michael Shmith reviews 'Ernest Newman: A critical biography' by Paul Watt

Michael Shmith reviews 'Ernest Newman: A critical biography' by Paul Watt

Ernest Newman: A critical biography

by Paul Watt

The Boydell Press, $45 hb, 270 pp, 9781783271900

Recently, the chief classical music critic of The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, adroitly summarised the nebulous perils of his job: ‘Music, especially purely instrumental music, resists being described in language. It’s very hard to convey sounds through words. Perhaps that’s what we most love about music: that it’s beyond description, deeper than words. Yet the poor music critic has to try.’ Many have indeed tried and, despite the demands of daily or nightly deadlines, more than a few of them have succeeded in conveying to the general reader the essence of what they hear and see. Mr Tommasini, who attends at least three (probably more) musical events a week, is certainly one of these critics. His preparation: ‘A lifelong immersion in music.’

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Published in November 2017, no. 396
Michael Shmith

Michael Shmith

Michael Shmith is a Melbourne-based writer and editor. He edited The New Pocket Kobbé's Opera Book with George Lascelles, the seventh Earl of Harewood. He is currently writing the history of Cranlana, the Toorak home bought by Sidney and Merlyn Myer in 1920.