Warrack, John (Hamilton) 1928-

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WARRACK, John (Hamilton) 1928-

PERSONAL: Born February 9, 1928, in London, England; son of Guy (a conductor and composer) and Jacynth (Ellerton) Warrack; married Elizabeth Cowley, 1955 (divorced, 1970); married Lucy Caroline Beckett (a writer), January 27, 1970; children: (first marriage) Simon, Nigel; (second marriage) Benedict, Christopher. Ethnicity: "British." Education: Attended Winchester College (London, England), 1941-46, and Royal College of Music, 1949-52; Oxford University, M.A., 1985; D.Litt., 1989. Religion: Church of England. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, cooking, watching cricket.

ADDRESSES: Home—Beck House, Rievaulx, Helmsley, York YO62 5LB, England. E-mail— [email protected].

CAREER: Musicologist. Freelance oboist in England, primarily with the Boyd Neel and Sadler's Wells orchestras, 1950-53; Daily Telegraph, London, England, assistant music critic, 1954-61; Sunday Telegraph, London, chief music critic, 1961-72; Gramophone, Harrow, Middlesex, England, columnist, 1968—. Artistic director, Leeds Musical Festival, 1977-84; broadcaster on radio and television. Visiting lecturer, University of Durham, 1976-77; lecturer in Music, Oxford, 1984-93. Member of governing board, City Literary Institute, 1964-72. Military service: British Army, Royal Army Educational Corps, 1946-48, served in Greece and Egypt.

MEMBER: Royal College of Music (associate member), Royal Musical Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: Leverhume Emeritus fellow, 1994-1995.


Six Great Composers, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1958.

(With Harold Rosenthal) Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera, Oxford University Press (London, England), 1964, 2nd edition, 1979, 3rd edition (with Ewan West), 1996.

Carl Maria von Weber, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1968, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1976.

Tchaikovsky Symphonies and Concertos, BBC Publications (London, England), 1969, 2nd edition, 1974.

Tchaikovsky, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1973.

Tchaikovsky Ballet Music, BBC Publications (London, England), 1979.

(Editor) Carl Maria von Weber: Writings on Music, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1981.

(With Hugh Macdonald and Karl-Heinz Kohler) The New Grove Early Romantic Masters Two: Weber, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Norton (New York, NY), 1985.

(With Ewan West) The Oxford Dictionary of Opera,

Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1992.

Richard Wagner, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1994.

German Opera: From the Beginnings to Wagner, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Contributor to Grove's Dictionary of Music, 6th edition, and to periodicals and journals in his field, including Musical Times and Music and Letters. Assistant editor of Opera, 1956-61, member of editorial board, 1961-2001; member of editorial board of New Berlioz Edition.

SIDELIGHTS: John Warrack once told CA: "[My] main interests [are] Romanticism as a movement of European thought, especially its manifestation in music." Warrack has traveled as a music critic in most European countries, including Russia. He is competent in French, German, Italian, and has a working knowledge of Russian. He can read Latin and Greek and attempts some other languages in connection with his work. Warrack is particularly interested in German Romantic and Russian opera; he has made a detailed study of the works of Weber and is the author of several books about opera.

In German Opera: From the Beginnings to Wagner, Warrack examines German-language music theater before Richard Wagner burst on the scene. As R. J. Stove noted in New Criterion, this early period "resembles not an artistic canon but a lunar landscape with a few mountains jutting forth from seas of all too forgettable tranquility." Weber and Mozart provided those mountains of greatness, but Warrack also discusses the work of lesser-known composers, such as Johann Caspar Kerll, Reinhard Keiser, Johann Adolf Hasse, and others. As Stove wrote, "We must therefore salute John Warrack . . . for artfully hammering out to over 400 pages a tale about which frankly the musical world does not give a damn and is unconvinced that it ever should." Despite the obscurity of this subject matter, Stove commented, "Warrack simply will not let your attention wander."

In Opera News, John W. Freeman described German Opera as a "rich and exhaustive maze of opera history," and commented that readers will "begin to realize how superficial our present-day assessment of the period is bound to be," when faced with Warrack's richly detailed presentation of that era. Times Literary Supplement reviewer Richard Lawrence wrote, "In its range and depth, John Warrack's book is a magnificent achievement."



American Libraries, January, 1993, p. 74.

American Music Teacher, February, 1982, p. 62. American Reference Books Annual, 1994, p. 56.

Booklist, February 15, 1993, p. 1082.

Choice, April, 1993, p. 1302.

Christian Science Monitor, December 4, 1992, p. 11.

New Criterion, May, 2002, R. J. Stove, review of German Opera: From the Beginnings to Wagner, p. 79.

Notes, March, 1995, p. 843; September, 2002, James Zychowicz, review of German Opera, p. 77.

Opera News, December 23, 1995, p. 32; March, 2002, John W. Freeman, review of German Opera, p. 94.

Quadrant, November, 2001, R. J. Stove, review of German Opera, p. 84.

Reference and Research Book News, March, 1993, p. 2.

Reference Book Review, January, 1993, p. 21.

School Library Journal, May, 1993, p. 139.

Times Literary Supplement, April 23, 1993, p. 16; April 19, 2002, Richard Lawrence, review of German Opera, p. 18.

Wilson Library Bulletin, May, 1994, p. 105.