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Arts | By Richard Osborne


Sibelius’s remark that no statue was ever raised in honour of a critic probably tells us more about statuary than it does about music critics. Music needs no intermediary, yet laymen and practitioners have long been moved to write about it – from Plato in the fourth century to Wagner on the cusp of the age in which music criticism became a full-time profession. It’s a profession that has thrived in Britain. Is it our literary heritage that helped bring this about, or the fact that we’re a pragmatic people, less inclined to judge by principle, as the continentals tend to do, more by instinct and practice? Certainly, the quality of British music criticism was a factor in the years from the late-1940s to the mid-1980s, when London was the undisputed music capital of the world, not just for the range and quality of the music-making but as an...

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