Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Edward Downes: A Life in Music and the Media
by Purdy, Christopher C., D.M.A., The Ohio State University, 2008, 109; 10631303
Abstract (Summary)

Edward Downes (1911–2001) was a broadcaster, critic and teacher. For several days in 1994 and 1995, I sat in the "servant's quarters" as he called his apartment under the eaves in New York City's most famous apartment building, the Dakota. There, with a magnificent view of Central Park, Edward Downes spoke on tape about his life and career. This project makes available for the first time Downes' published criticism and these recent spoken reminiscences of sixty years of concert and opera going. Edward's words will help the reader examine the development of music criticism in the United States and its influence on audiences and music making. Edward's clear memories of opera and concert life go back to the 1920s, and through them one gets a sense of what was available to audiences eighty years ago.

Transcripts of my conversations recorded with Downes in New York form the heart of this document. These personal reminiscences are complemented by reviews published by Downes in The Boston Evening Transcript from 1939–1941, when he was a music critic for that paper. Both performance reviews and "thought pieces" will be presented showing how culutral life was discused in print in the years leading up to World War II.

A second aspect of this document is some disucssion of music criticism in America's print media between 1910 and 1960. Edward Downes was the son of Olin Downes (1886–1955), who from 1925 until his death was chief critic of The New York Times. Edward's ascension up the ranks of music critics is examined through the writings of his predecessors and contemporaries.

Edward himself was given the largest platform of all when he succeeded his father as host of the popular Opera Quiz segment of the Saturday afteroon Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. On the air since 1931 to the present day, these broadcasts were opera to millions of Americans at a time when access to travel, public libraries and education was limited. Edward Downes used this platform to entertain and to educate with erudition, personality and charm.

Indexing (document details)
Commitee: Peeler, Karen, DMA, Tarantino, Mary, MA, Woliver, Charles Patrick, DMA, Woods, Alan
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Music
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Biographies, Music
Keywords: Bayreuth, Downes, Edward, Downes, Olin, Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, Opera
Publication Number: 10631303
ISBN: 978-0-355-01564-5
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