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 is currently writing the history of Cranlana, the Toorak home bought by Sidney and Merlyn Myer in 1920.