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Porter, Andrew (Brian)

Porter, Andrew (Brian)

Porter, Andrew (Brian) , brilliant English writer on music; b. Cape Town, South Africa, Aug. 26, 1928. He studied music at Diocesan Coll. in Cape Town, then went to England and continued his education at Univ. Coll., Oxford; became a proficient organist. In 1949 he joined the staff of the Manchester Guardian, and then wrote music criticism for the Financial Times of London (1953–74); also served as ed. of the Musical Times of London (1960–67). In 1972 he became the music critic of the New Yorker. In 1992 he became the chief music critic of The Observer in London. He was made a corresponding member of the American Musicological Soc. in 1993. A polyglot, a polymath, and an uncommonly diversified intellectual, Porter expanded his interests far beyond the limited surface of purely musical studies; he mastered German, Italian, and French; made an exemplary tr. into Eng. of the entire text of Der Ring des Nibelungen, taking perspicuous care for the congenial rendition of Wagner’s words and melodic inflections; his tr. was used to excellent advantage in the performance and recording of the cycle by the conductor Reginald Good-all with the English National Opera. Porter also tr. texts of Verdi’s operas, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and some French operas. His mastery of English prose and his unostentatious display of arcane erudition make him one of the most remarkable music critics writing in the English language. Selections from his reviews have been publ. in A Musical Season (N.Y., 1974), Music of Three Seasons, 1974–1977 (N.Y., 1978), Music of Three More Seasons, 1977–1980 (N.Y., 1981), Musical Events: A Chronicle, 1980–1983 (N.Y., 1987), and Musical Events: A Chronicle, 1983–1986 (N.Y., 1989); also was co-ed, of Verdi’s Macbeth: A Sourcebook (N.Y., 1983).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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