Downes, (Edwin) Olin

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Downes, (Edwin) Olin

Downes, (Edwin) Olin, eminent American music critic, father of Edward O(lin) D(avenport) Downes; b. Evanston, 111., Jan. 27,1886; d. N.Y, Aug. 22,1955. He studied piano at the National Cons, of Music of N.Y. and was a pupil in Boston of Louis Kelterborn (history and analysis), Carl Baermann (piano), Homer Norris and Clifford Heilman (theory), and John Marshall (music criticism). After establishing himself as a music critic of the Boston Post (1906–24), he was the influential music critic of the N.Y. Times from 1924 until his death. He was also active as a lecturer and served as quizmaster of the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. His valuable collection of letters (about 50,000) to and from the most celebrated names in 20th-century music history is housed at the Univ. of Ga. Downes did much to advance the cause of Strauss, Stravinsky, Sibelius, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich in the U.S. In 1937 he received the order Commander of the White Rose of Finland and in 1939 an honorary Mus.Doc. from the Cincinnati Cons, of Music.


(all publ. in N.Y): The Lure of Music (1918); ed. Select Songs of Russian Composers (1922); Symphonic Broadcasts (1931); Symphonic Masterpieces (1935); ed. Ten Operatic Masterpieces, From Mozart to Prokofiev (1952); Sibelius the Symphonist (1956); I. Downes, ed., Olin Downes on Music (1957).


G. Goss, Jean Sibelius and O. D.: Music, Friendship, Criticism (Boston, 1995).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire