Chivalrous. Respected. Erudite. Wise.

In the Style of Mr. Andrew Porter


If a reader wishes to know where the COMMANDOpera style of musical criticism is derived, they would have to go back to the iconic writings of Mr. Andrew Porter for the New Yorker Magazine during the eighties. The above excerpt is extremely typical of Mr. Porter’s lucid style which makes for an illuminating read on how musical criticism was correctly essayed. It seems such a distant memory to recall the endless waiting one endured each week for the latest edition of the New Yorker to see who Mr. Porter liked and who he did not. No other voice in musical criticism mattered to the degree of Mr. Porter, and this writer adored and pedestalized the man to no end. Recently this venue attempted to be in touch with Mr. Porter who is 82, with no success to date. Here is Mr. Porter’s biography from Wikipedia: 

‘Andrew Porter, born August 26, 1928, in Cape Town, South Africa, is a British music critic, scholar, organist, and opera director. He studied organ at University College, Oxford University, in the late nineteen-forties, then began writing music criticism for various London papers, including The Times and The Daily Telegraph. In 1953 he joined The Financial Times, where he served as the lead critic until 1972. Stanley Sadie, in the 2001 edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, writes that Porter “built up a distinctive tradition of criticism, with longer notices than were customary in British daily papers, based on his elegant, spacious literary style and always informed by a knowledge of music history and the findings of textual scholarship as well as an exceptionally wide range of sympathies.” In 1960, Porter became the editor of The Musical Times. From 1972 to 1973 he served a term as the music critic of The New Yorker. He returned in 1974 and remained the magazine’s music critic until he moved back to London in 1992. His writings for The New Yorker won respect from leading figures in the musical world. The composer and critic Virgil Thomson, in a 1974 commentary on the state of music criticism, stated, “Nobody reviewing in America has anything like Porter’s command of opera. Nor has The New Yorker ever before had access through music to so distinguished a mind.” In more recent years he has written for The Observer and The Times Literary Supplement. His English translations of Der Ring des Nibelungen and The Magic Flute have been widely performed. His most significant achievement as a scholar was his discovery of excised portions of Verdi’s Don Carlos in the library of the Paris Opera, which led to the restoration of the original version of the work’.

COMMANDOpera does not own such an extraordinary background within the realm of classical music as Mr. Porter. There is no critic of note today who does. Nevertheless, the style of Mr. Andrew Porter is not lost to readers today who are interested in digesting serious musical criticism. It remains the unique foundation of COMMANDOpera.

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