Hale, Philip

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Hale, Philip

Hale, Philip, eminent American music critic; b. Norwich, Vt., March 5, 1854; d. Boston, Nov. 30, 1934. He took music lessons in his early youth, and as a boy played the organ in the Unitarian Church at Northampton, Mass. He went to Yale Univ. to study law, and was admitted to the bar in 1880. He then took organ lessons with Dudley Buck; subsequently went to Europe (1882–87), where he studied organ with Haupt in Berlin, and composition with Rheinberger in Munich and with Guilmant in Paris. Returning to America, he served as a church organist in Albany and Troy, N.Y., and in Boston, but soon abandoned this employment for his true vocation, that of drama and music critic. Hale was music critic for the Boston Home Journal (1889–91), the Boston Post (1890–91), the Boston Journal (1891–1903), and the Boston Herald, of which he was also drama ed. (1904–33). He was also ed. of the Boston Musical Record (1897–1901). From 1901 to 1933 he compiled the program books of the Boston Sym. Orch., setting a standard of erudition and informative annotation. He was joint author, with L. Elson, of Famous Composers and Their Works (1900), and was ed. of the collection Modern French Songs (2 vols., 1904). J. Burk ed. Philip Hale’s Boston Symphony Programme Notes (Garden City, N.Y, 1935; 2nd ed., rev, 1939). Hale was a forceful and brilliant writer; his articles were often tinged with caustic wit directed against incompetent performers and, regrettably, against many modern composers; he also disliked Brahms, and was credited with the celebrated but possibly apocryphal quip that the exits in the newly opened Sym. Hall in Boston should have been marked not “Exit in Case of Fire,” but “Exit in Case of Brahms.” Another verbal dart attributed to Hale was his dismissal of a singer with the concluding sentence, “Valuable time was consumed.”

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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