PleasantS, Henry , American music critic and writer on music; b. Wayne, Pa., May 12, 1910; d. London, Jan. 4, 2000. He was educated at the Philadelphia Musical Academy and the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia. From 1930 to 1942 he was music critic of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, and then central European music correspondent of the N.Y. Times from 1945 to 1955. From 1950 to 1964 he was also active with the U.S. Foreign Service. From 1967 to 1998 he was the London music critic of the International Herald Tribune. He also served as the London ed. of Stereo Review. He was active as a guest lecturer throughout the U.S. and England, and also appeared on radio and television programs of the BBC, as well as those in North America and Europe. His Writings appeared in many leading American and English music magazines, and he also was a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. As a tr. and ed., he publ. Vienna’s Golden Years of Music 1850–1900 (Writings of Hanslick: 1950), The Musical Journeys of Louis Spohr (1961), The Musical World of Robert Schumann (1965), The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf (1979), and Piano and Song (by Friedrich Wieck; 1988). After Pleasants’s death, it was learned that during his years with the U.S. Foreign Service he had worked as the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency station chief in Bonn in the 1950s.
(all publ. in N.Y.): The Agony of Modern Music (1955); Death of a Music? The Decline of the European Tradition and the Rise of Jazz (1961); The Great Singers from the Dawn of Opera to Our Own Time (1966; 3rd ed., rev. and enl., 1985); Serious Music, and All That Jazz (1969); The Great American Popular Singers (1974); Opera in Crisis: Tradition, Present, Future (1989).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire