Shocking death of New York music critic, 46

Shocking death of New York music critic, 46


norman lebrecht

June 13, 2019

We are stunned to learn of the sudden passing of Paul J. Pelkonen, an independent critic on the New York music scene and an occasional contributor to Slipped Disc.

The cause of death is said to be a heart attack.

A gourmand and lover of life, Paul was in a relationship with Emily Ravich for 13 years. His website, Superconductor, was always astute and informative. He was friendly, cooperative, full of ideas and fun. Paul will be very widely missed.




  • angrynewyorker says:

    Yours was the first notice of Paul’s death I saw this morning. I knew him only slightly, but I knew enough to know he will be greatly missed by many — and by the arts institutions whose performances he covered for years with knowledge and a sense of humor: The New York Philharmonic, where Paul was a fixture; the Metropolitan Opera and so many others. His voice will be sorely missed.

  • Sam says:

    Paul was a great guy. I loved to chat with him at Carnegie Hall and hear what new concert he was excited about (or what he thought was crap!). He will be missed.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    I love the whole tone of that Superconductor site !
    I do hope the site will continue after the sad death of its founder.

    Sympathy to family and friends.

    • NY Classical Whisperer says:

      Nobody was in his league, there is no way the site can continue. I was learning the business from Paul but I wouldn’t be ready for another ten years. He was a genius.

  • Wolfgang says:

    I met him in Japan. Wonderful personality. A mountain of knowledge. RIP Paul.

  • Jennifer Wada says:

    This is such sad news. Paul was an irrepressible, keen, and generous observer of the music scene. He will indeed be very much missed.

  • Brian says:

    I always enjoyed hearing and reading Paul’s take on the classical music scene in NYC. He knew his stuff – in great depth, and with much enthusiasm – but was never a snob about it. Will miss seeing him around.

  • Utterly shocked. This a live cut short way too soon. Paul was such an interesting fellow. Of his vast experience and knowledge, we shared chats and he did stories about music for piano and orchestra that were out of the traditional box. That he respected people and music so much was of the highest form of admiration and he will be greatly missed.

  • Lyoko Ena says:

    Anyone going to comment on how entitled this guy was?

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      Just the heartless.

    • Laurence says:

      Elaborate, if you please. (Or dare.)

    • Joanna says:

      That is the most absurd thing to say about Paul. Entitled? Because he went to concerts and operas? He worked harder than you could ever know. He was fortunate to work at something he loved. Maybe you aren’t. But you know, to speak ill of a talented man who has just died a premature death says volumes about the kind of human you are…

  • NY Classical Whisperer says:

    I was very close with Paul. We spent intermission at Carnegie Hall holding court all the way over at the 7th Ave side of the stage. He had press passes of course but I subscribe to 8 series so most of the season you could see us over there, me listening, him teaching or entertaining me with bad jokes. He really loved and missed his father who predeceased him. I hope they are united. I’m just lost today.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    We can ill afford to lose talented people like this. Very sorry to hear about his death at a still-young age. Terrible. The 40s continue to be dangerous years for heart health.

  • María Roca says:

    Paul was always a welcome sight around Sunset Park, whether the conversation delved with classical music or happenings around the nabe and our iconic park. Our condolences to his partner Emily Ravich and family.

  • Rob Findlay says:

    I went to Fordham U in the Bronx with Paul. He was such a great guy to have a music conversation with. This was 1990-1995 and he was my google with things I did not know.