Ernest Newman

Ernest Newman books and biography

Ernest Newman

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Ernest Newman (November 30, 1868 – July 7, 1959) was an English music critic.

Born in Everton in Lancashire as the son of a master tailor, his real name was William Roberts. When he began writing music criticism he adopted the name Ernest Newman, because, as an advocate of progressive ideals, he saw himself as a "new man in earnest".

His musical education was entirely self-conducted. After studying at Liverpool University, he entered the Bank of Liverpool as a clerk in 1889. While in this job he read voraciously, training himself in literature and philosophy and learning nine languages. Having contributed articles to The National Reformer from 1889, he published his first book, Gluck and the Opera, in 1895. In 1904 Newman gave up banking and went to Birmingham to teach music theory and singing at the Midland Institute, at the invitation of its director, Granville Bantock. Newman was critic of the Birmingham Daily Post from 1906 to 1918 and of the Sunday Times from 1920 until 1958, as well as writing for The Guardian, the Glasgow Herald and other papers.

Newman's approach to criticism was dominated by the attempt to be logically rigorous and by the scrupulous sifting of relevant background knowledge. His magnum opus was his four-volume study The Life of Richard Wagner, on which he worked from 1928 until 1947. The best introduction to his critical method is his A Musical Critic's Holiday (1925).

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