America’s leading voice critic has died

America’s leading voice critic has died


norman lebrecht

February 15, 2021

Peter G. Davis, the opera critic’s opera critic, has died at 84 after prolonged ill health.

He was Sunday Music Editor of the NY Times while Harold Schonberg was chief critic, then reviewed for 25 years for New York magazine. He was also classical music editor of High Fidelity.

No-one knew American singers beter than Peter. He wrote a book about them.

Charming man, very encouraging colleague.



  • olivia nordstadt says:

    america’s pre-eminent vocal critic was and is conrad l osborne

  • A.L. says:

    Some will mourn him, some will not. In his little pamphlet titled “The American Opera Singer” he, irresponsibly and in the most cavalier manner, wrote off many a singer from the ‘80s and ‘90s heyday, some with a mere sentence or two. Singers like Studer, Vaness, Millo, well, you name them. And his venom caught on, unfortunately. In a sort of fateful vindication, look at what we now have: an unprecedented drought of singers worth our salt. Could well spell the beginning of the end. Too bad it didn’t occur to him to revise his pamphlet. Willing to bet he lacked material to write about. And that’s because there is no one to write about.

  • Naf Arepo says:

    Very sad that he has departed. Your mention of him as an encouraging colleague is welcomed Norman. He had many virtues, including a self-deprecating humility, as well as the wisdom in his writings reflecting the fact that he actually knew music (composition…). Alex Ross captures him nicely here now: