Michael Kennedy (music critic)

George Michael Sinclair Kennedy CBE (19 February 1926 – 31 December 2014) was an English biographer, journalist and writer on classical music.

Kennedy was born in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, and attended Berkhamsted School.[1] On 17 November 1941,[2] he joined the Manchester office of Daily Telegraph at age 15, as a tea boy.[3] Following service in the Royal Navy, he returned to the Telegraph as an assistant to the night editor.[1] He began writing music criticism for the paper in 1948, and became staff music critic in 1950.[2] He served as chief sub-editor, and later Northern Editor of the Telegraph from 1960 to 1986, joint chief music critic from 1986 to 2005, and chief music critic of The Sunday Telegraph from 1989 to 2005. He was on the Board of Governors of the Royal Northern College of Music from 1971 to 2006.

As a writer, Kennedy had particular interests in late Romantic music and the history of music-making in Manchester since the 19th century. He was particularly known for acute and sympathetic studies of the works of Ralph Vaughan Williams (who was during his last years a close friend),[4] Edward Elgar, Benjamin Britten, Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. Kennedy wrote biographies of Vaughan Williams, William Walton, and of John Barbirolli, with authorisation from the composers themselves and the Barbirolli family, respectively. [5][6] He is also noted for writing The Oxford Dictionary of Music, which he did whilst serving as Northern Editor of the Telegraph.[7] Its second edition was published in 1994.

Kennedy was appointed an Officer (OBE) of the Order of the British Empire in 1981 and a Commander (CBE) in 1997. He received an honorary doctorate degree in music from Manchester University in 2003. In 2005, he was elected an honorary member of the Royal Philharmonic Society.[8]

Kennedy was married twice. His first wife was Eslyn Durdle, who suffered from multiple sclerosis for approximately fifty years. Their marriage lasted from 1947 until her death in 1999.[2] His second wife was Joyce Bourne, a physician whom Kennedy had met in 1976. Bourne insisted that Kennedy continue to care for his wife, which he did.[6] Bourne and Kennedy married in 1999, after the death of Eslyn. Their own marriage lasted until Kennedy's death. Bourne served as Kennedy's associate editor for his various editions of The Oxford Dictionary of Music. She survives him.



  1. 1 2 "Michael Kennedy - obituary". Telegraph. 2014-12-31. Retrieved 2015-01-09.
  2. 1 2 3 Michael Henderson (2001-11-17). "I like too much music". Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-01-09.
  3. Ben Lawrence (2014-12-31). "Michael Kennedy, world authority on classical music, dies aged 88". Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-01-09.
  4. Ursula Vaughan Williams R.V.W. (London: Oxford University Press, 1964) pp. 316-17
  5. Michael Henderson (2015-01-03). "Michael Kennedy: a critic who opened our ears to music". Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-01-09.
  6. 1 2 Barry Milington (2015-01-14). "Michael Kennedy obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-01-22.
  7. Ivan Hewett (2014-12-31). "Michael Kennedy interview: a life devoted to music and to Manchester". Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-01-09.
  8. "The music critic Michael Kennedy has died". Gramophone. 2014-12-31. Retrieved 2015-01-09.

External Resources

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