Breaking: Anne Midgette quits

Breaking: Anne Midgette quits


norman lebrecht

September 23, 2019

Anne has resigned as chief classical music critic at the Washington Post, a position she has filled with distinction for 11 years. We’re finding out why.

There is nothing on her social media.

The paper has been relatively well funded since it was taken over by Amazon’s owner. It will not be the same without her.

UPDATE: She’s writing a book.

She’d like to spend more evenings at home with her son.

Her last day at the Post is November 22.


  • Petros Linardos says:

    No, the Washington Post is not owned by Amazon. That is a well known fact.

    • Enquiring Mind says:

      She apparently hands the megaphone to any #metoo. Since you brought it up, what has happened in the last year since this complaint was filed?

      • TubaMinimum says:

        Is there a reason she shouldn’t have? One high profile musician at war with her orchestra’s management who goes outside to file a complaint is newsworthy in and of itself. Whether or not Needleman or Carney turn out to be the aggrieved. That is a story.

    • Kelly says:

      I wonder if that issue is related to her departure.

  • Marc says:

    “The paper has been relatively well funded since it was taken over by Amazon’s owner.” That’s what NL wrote and it is precisely correct. Nothing there about Amazon running WaPo.

    Now there is no reason whatever to read at the Post. Will be glad to stop paying for it.

    • Paul Wells says:

      The Pulitzer Prizes for national reporting in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 aren’t gonna do it for you, then?

    • Bill says:

      No, it is not correct, as Jeff Bezos is not the owner of Amazon, which is a public company. He is one of many owners. Given Amazon’s stock market capitalization, most Americans with any mutual fund or retirement plans will also be owners of Amazon.

    • The View from America says:

      Midgette’s not THAT magnificent …

  • Larry says:

    She has been a very thoughtful critic; I’ve enjoyed reading her from time to time. Is she not married to Greg Sandow, another music critic, or at least former music critic?

  • Larry Bocaner says:

    She has done irreperable harm to the reputation of the National symphony with her biased reviews.

    • Sixtus Beckmesser says:

      I doubt it. She didn’t have a high regard for their former music director Christoph Eschenbach.

    • Brian says:

      What makes them biased, dare I ask? I don’t read every review but I’ve seen ones that were positive and others that were tough but fair. For one example, she was quite encouraging about the Kennedy Center’s casual concerts programmed by Mason Bates.

      Anne just doesn’t go for the tired, formulaic programming of the sort that would sometimes appear at the NSO and hold it back as an institution.

      • Enquiring Mind says:

        Does she know anything about music? Or does she think its all about “how you say it”. The latter seems to more and more common.

  • Alan says:

    No comment is anywhere near important enough to damage anything. No matter how they might like to think they are.

  • justsaying says:

    Critics for major publications have a big responsibility, bigger than that of bloggers or niche essayists – their reviews are influential on decision-makers who may not personally have the expertise to second-guess the critic’s judgment. Anne Midgette is one of very few in the US who knows enough to merit that kind of trust, and one of the few who can explain an opinion in good English. Where opera is concerned, her retirement reduces the US ranks of competent big-megaphone critics by at least 33.3% at a stroke.

    Faultless? No way – nobody is – and that was easier to take when there were 25 or 30 major critics on the scene to balance each other’s blind spots. But she will be remembered for doing her job vigorously, honestly, and expertly.

    • Yes Addison says:

      Complete agreement. I always found her a pleasure to read in the Post, whether I agreed with a judgment or not. On opera specifically, she was one of the best in any mainstream publication. I wish that that were higher praise in the 21st century, but I mean it as such. In addition to everything else, she knew how to get the most out of the space she had to work with.

      She also handled it with grace and tact when she got abuse in comments sections from some of her more hidebound readers, or from readers enraged that she had criticized one of their special woobies…both frequent occurrences.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    I thought her music reviews were of no value and stopped reading them all together a long time ago. Now, she has finished her career trying to damage the careers of others. Maybe this is not such a sad say for the music world.

  • Nice Try says:

    Good riddance. Get all these phonies out of a job. Wasn’t needed, didn’t help, won’t be missed.

  • PaulD says:

    This should free up some budget space at the Post for another hip-hop critic.

  • Nick says:

    I like her writing and her investigative reports have been very thoroughly researched. She’s also a foxy lady. Good luck to her on her next chapter!

  • Bruce says:

    Well shit.

    She’s been pretty good.

  • AlanK says:

    I did not find her tenure so distinguished; certainly not compared to Tim Page, her predecessor. She is clearly an aficionado of vocal music, but her knowledge of orchestral music is quite limited. She often spent more time discussing some tangential aspect of a concert than the concert itself. Often the review was more about her opinion of the piece being played than the concert. I rarely found her to be an inspiring writer and even less often providing insight as to the performance. No ill will toward her but I wont be at a loss without her. Charles Downey of Classical Review is by far the best local critic.

    Overall the WaPost is almost total garbage. It is infected
    with political correctness and poor writing in its entirety. Nothing more than a propaganda paper for the Democratic Party. At least it could be well written propaganda. The Pulitzer Prize like the rest of those awards is dumbed down and given mostly to those with the same views as the committee. The KC awards is now a joke based on demographic attributes rather than serious accomplishments in the high arts. The recent KC celebration of reach had one classical concert, one jazz concert and dozens of pop concerts with a huge emphasis on Hip hop! Just what a non profit institution should be showcasing

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Your second paragraph echoes much of what I’ve read elsewhere about the WP. Newspapers today are in a world of trouble because of the advocacy and PC rather than reportage. The clock is ticking on these institutions. Bezos won’t save it or anything else which promulgates an agenda from a small proportion of the population.

    • Mick says:

      How true. One look at the programing for REACH shows that the KC is running on fumes as a “cultural” institution.

    • TubaMinimum says:

      If they were all free concerts, it’s probably a hell of a lot more expensive to put on a pop show than a classical one. I don’t imagine the 90 or so NSO musicians volunteered their services for that show. Also, it’s not like they cancelled their full slate of orchestra, chamber music, ballet, opera, etc. slate next door.

      Also, they are a nonprofit. They also are the national performing arts center. If the art in the US changes and expands… why wouldn’t they?

  • Lorenzino says:

    “Remember: a statue has never been set up in honour of a critic!”
    Jean Sibelius

  • Edgar Self says:

    Manuela Hoelterhof, Wynne Delacoma, Claudia Cassidy, and Anne Midgettee are the only female classical critics I can think of and recognize by name.

    When John von Rhein retired from Chicago Tribune last year, his job went to Howard Reich, their jazz reviewer, who is working himself to death covering both surprisingly well, proving t’s not far from Reich to Rhein. But I wish Alan Artner w was still there.

  • debuschubertussy says:

    I’ve never seen her write one positive review of anything. I know she is a critic, but she is basically impossible to please. I think she wants all live performances to sound like studio recordings or something.

  • Fred Silver says:

    Aweful reviewer, she will not be missed and many are today celebrating for her departure . she has been on a crusade to destroy people’s careers . Her reviews (in opera at least ) are always negative ,she seems to compliment someone and then proceeds to destroy them . I often wondered if she even knew anything really about music except contemporary music …. her critics were never constructive …

  • Bob Jones says:

    Her worst columns came when she would try to forecast the future of orchestral music or the symphony business. No clue about the market, or marketing, and only the most superficial grasp pf finance. Why do music writers try to be music business writers?

  • Il lamento di Federico says:

    Ann Midgette was a decent critic. She became gradually more of a pontificator, however, and she seemed to embrace the wave of political correctness of late. Something tells me that her heart was not into it and perhaps this is why she quit. The WP became a piece of trash. Compared to what it used to be, brings back to mind a verse from a poem about glorious warriors who vanished and in their place rose worthless recruits: “where heroes used to dwell, now gypsies hang their ware”,
    The new “agenda” in the Arts will destroy them. Ann is better off away from the bloody battlefield.
    Gone are the days my friends.