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Harold C.

Harold Charles Schonberg (November 29, 1915 July
26, 2003) was an American music critic and journalist,
most notably for The New York Times. He was the rst
music critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism (1971).
He also wrote a number of books on musical subjects, and
one on chess.

69) as principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He accused Bernstein of showing o by using
exaggerated gestures on the podium and of conducting a
piece in a way that made its structure overly obvious to
audiences (e.g., slowing down during the transition from
one main theme to another).[1]
One of Schonbergs most famous criticisms of Bernstein
was written after the famous April 6, 1962, performance
before which Bernstein announced that he disagreed with
pianist Glenn Gould's interpretation of Brahms' Piano
Concerto No. 1 but was going to conduct it anyway because he found it fascinating. Schonberg chided Bernstein in print, suggesting that he should have either refrained from publicizing his disagreement, backed out of
the concert, or imposed his own will on Gould, and called
Bernstein the Peter Pan of music.[2] In the chapter on
Bernstein in his 1967 book The Great Conductors, Schonberg quotes the remark but neglects to mention that he
was the critic who had made it.

Life and career as music critic

Schonberg was born in New York City to David and

Mini Schonberg. He had a brother (Stanley) and a sister (Edith). Schonberg graduated from Brooklyn College
in 1937, and did graduate studies at New York University. In 1939 he became a record critic for American Music Lover Magazine (later renamed the American Record
During World War II, Schonberg was a rst lieutenant in
the United States Army Airborne Signal Corps. He had
hoped to enlist as a pilot, but was declared pastel-blind (he
could distinguish colors but not shadings and subtleties)
and was sent to London, where he was a code breaker and
later a parachutist. He broke his leg on a training jump
before D-Day and could not participate in the Normandy
invasion; every member of his platoon who jumped into
France was ultimately killed. He remained in the Army
until 1946.

After Bernsteins regular tenure at the New York Philharmonic ended, however, Schonberg seemed to mellow in
his attitude toward him and actually began to praise his
conducting, stating in his book The Glorious Ones that
with age, came less of a need to prove something, and
that there were moments of glory in his conceptions.

2 Other interests

Schonberg joined The New York Times in 1950. He rose

to the post of senior music critic for the Times a decade
later. In this capacity he published daily reviews and
longer features on operas and classical music on Sundays.
He also worked eectively behind the scenes to increase
music coverage in the Times and develop its rst-rate music sta. Upon his retirement as senior music critic in
1980 he became cultural correspondent for the Times.

A devoted and skilled chess player, he covered the

championship match between Boris Spassky and Bobby
Fischer in Reykjavk, Iceland in 1972. One of Schonbergs books not on music was Grandmasters of Chess.
He also reviewed mysteries and thrillers for The New York
Times under the pseudonym Newgate Callender from
Schonberg was an extremely inuential music writer. 1972-1995.
Aside from his contributions to music journalism, he pub- Schonberg was also an avid golfer, though a poor one by
lished 13 books, most of them on music, including The his own estimation. He co-authored the book How To
Great Pianists: From Mozart to the Present (1963, re- Play Double Bogey Golf (1975) along with Hollis Alpert,
vised 1987)pianists were a specialty of Schonberg founder of the National Society of Film Critics, and feland The Lives of the Great Composers (1970; revised low author Ira Mothner. Schonberg, Mothner and Alpert
1981, 1997) which traced the lives of major composers played golf frequently together, according to the book.
from Monteverdi through to modern times.


3 Late life and death

Criticisms of Bernstein

Schonberg was highly critical of Leonard Bernstein dur- In 1984, Schonberg taught music criticism at McMaster
ing the composer-conductors eleven-year tenure (1958 University in Hamilton, Canada.

In 1987, it was announced that Schonberg was assisting Vladimir Horowitz in the preparation of the pianists
memoirs. Although the project was never completed,
Schonbergs biography of Horowitz was published in
Schonberg died in New York City on July 26, 2003, at the
age of 87. In his obituary notice in The New York Times
the next day, Allan Kozinn wrote that as a music critic
Harold Schonberg set the standard for critical evaluation
and journalistic thoroughness.

Schonberg, Harold C. The Guide to Long-Playing
Records: Chamber and Solo Instrument Music (Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1955)
Schonberg, Harold C. The Great Pianists (Victor
Gollancz, London 1964)
Schonberg, Harold C. The Great Conductors, published 1967
Schonberg, Harold C. Facing the Music, published
Schonberg, Harold C. The Glorious Ones, published
Schonberg, Harold C. The Great Pianists published
1987 (revised)
Schonberg, Harold C. The Lives of the Great Composers (W. W. Norton, New York 1970) revised
Schonberg, Harold C. Grandmasters of Chess (J.
B. Lippincott, Philadelphia and New York, 1972,



Sony Classical.
Glenn Gould/Leonard Bernstein/Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 Glenn Gould, piano; Leonard Bernstein leading the New York Philharmonic. Released 1998.


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