Music History

When the Critics Circle started in 1913, it was launched by a group of theatre critics. But distinguished past presidents have included such well-known figures as Philip Hope-Wallace, William Mann, Andrew Porter, Charles Osborne and Rodney Milnes.

Our current chairman is Guy Dammann, who writes for The Guardian and Times Literary Supplement, and the Section secretary is Amanda Holloway.

The aims of the Music Section of the Critics’ Circle are, to quote the Circle’s rulebook: a) to promote the art of criticism and to uphold its integrity in practice; b) to foster and safeguard the professional interests of its members and to provide opportunities for social intercourse among them; and c) to support the advancement of the arts. Though the Circle is decidedly not a trade union, it tries to encourage best practice.

The music section from time to time has acted for its members in connection with scales of fees for programme notes and magazine articles. We have recently been concerned that some concert and opera promoters have been trying to force members to sell their copyright for fees that would previously have bought only “first serial rights”. Music critics tend to be among the least well paid in the Circle. They really need repeat fees for re-use of programme notes they have penned.

We meet to discuss and decide bread and butter matters three times a year for about 90 minutes maximum.

Occasionally we hold meetings where a leading performer or a concert-hall or opera manager will answer questions from members about their work. We also irregularly hold luncheons or dinners to celebrate the lifetime achievement of some very special artist, writer, composer or instrumentalist.

The music section has 76 members. It at present consists overwhelmingly of classical music and opera critics, though we welcome critics of other kinds of music (jazz, pop, and world music).

Members

Nicholas Anderson, Tim Ashley, Edward Bhesania, Augustin Blanco-Bazin, Richard Bratby, Geoff Brown, Antony Bye, Hugh Canning, Rupert Christiansen, Michael Church, Keith Clarke, Alexandra Coghlan, Clare Colvin, Antonia Couling, Della Couling, Martin Cullingford, Kimon Daltas, Guy Dammann, Clive Davies, Chris de Souza, Jessica Duchen, Rian Evans, Richard Fairman, John Fallas, Neil Fisher, Ian Fox, Rebecca Franks, Professor Christopher Green, David Gutman, George Hall, Ivan Hewett, Amanda Holloway, Fiona Hook, James Inverne, Erica Jeal, Dr Lucien Jenkins,  Stephen Johnson, Rick Jones, Graeme Kay, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Ashutosh Khandekar, Nick Kimberley, Alison Latham, Richard Lawrence, Robert Layton, Jonathan Lennie, Paul Levy, Fiona Maddocks, Barry Millington, Kate Molleson, Christopher Morley, Bryce Morrison, Richard Morrison, Owen Mortimer, Geoffrey Norris, Meredith Oakes, Richard Osborne, Matthew Peacock, Gerhard Persche, Stephen Pritchard, Mark Pullinger, Peter Reed, Tim Rutherford-Johnson, Matthew Rye, Edward Seckerson, Hugo Shirley, Geoffrey Smith, Harriet Smith, Tom Sutcliffe, Michael K Tanner, Robert Thicknesse, Warwick Thompson, Mark Valencia, Kenneth Walton, Nicholas Williams, Hans-Theodor Wohlfahrt.

Honorary members are:
David Cairns, David Gillard, Robert L Henderson, Adrian Jack, Max Loppert, David Mellor, Diana McVeagh, Stephen Pettitt, Stephen Walsh.

News & Reviews

Proms Hail Bernstein

Several of the Proms have celebrated the American composer Leonard Bernstein in his centenary. Nothing has been more rapturously received than Bernstein’s musical West Side Story performed at the halfway weekend by the John Wilson Orchestra under the founder-conductor...

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Proms off like the Clappers

By Rick Jones Oh for goodness’ sake. The Proms begin and all anyone can talk about is applause in the wrong place. The audience clapped the individual planets of the Solar System instead of waiting for Neptune at the end of Holst’s suite on opening night. Pluto was...

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