Doyen New Yorker critic has died

We have been notified of the death of Andrew Porter, foremost music critic in an age of formidable critics and one of few whose reputation spanned both sides of the Atlantic. Andrew was 86.

South Africa born, Andrew was chief critic of the Financial Times from 1953 to 1972, earning the paper impressive cultural credentials on very little space.

From 1972 to 1992, with one year’s break, he was music critic of the New Yorker, establishing a style that was instantly recognised for a prosaic opening that parted like a curtain to reveal true content.

A quiet man, usually seen alone, he was close to his sister, Sheila, a busy New York publicist.

andrew porter

When I was writing Covent Garden: The Untold Story, Andrew was helpful in elliptical, though discreet, ways. His employer at the FT, Lord Drogheda, was also chairman of the Royal Opera House. Andrew, when he wrote a harsh review of a Covent Garden production, would receive a Droghedagram before breakfast. He gave back as good as he got. The mutual respect between and opera boss and a critic, as seen through their correspondence, was exceptional, possibly unique.  Halcyon days.

 

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  • Andrew once stayed with us as he was reviewing a Carter program at Vassar. When we came home afterwards the baby sitter asked, “How was the concert?” We said nothing. Andrew’s reply to her was pretty much word-for-word what then appeared in The New Yorker. She, of course, had no idea who he was.

  • Shall miss saying hi at concerts, operas and festivals. We first met in the late ‘sixties and he was always kind, courteous and welcoming.

  • Andrew Porter was a serious man and an excellent, honest critic. He really listened hard and conveyed, often eloquently, just what it was he heard. He was not concerned with getting invited to the parties thrown by management agencies and touting the front-runners as are most critics these days, at least in the US. With Andrew Porter’s passing, something important has gone out of the world.

  • I find that Mr. Farber, above, has expressed my feelings, and better than I would have, so I’ll leave it at that.

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