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Michael Kennedy Orbituary

guest post by Cheryl Law

I was sad to learn of the death of Michael Kennedy, who was one of the great names in classical music journalism; documenting musical life in Manchester for some 70 years, editing the Oxford Dictionary of Music and writing acclaimed biographies of many composers, including Elgar, Britten and Strauss.  A leading authority on many aspects of British musical life, he was associated with some of the past century’s finest musicians and composers, and was a personal friend of Tippett, Barbirolli and Vaughan Williams.

Born in Chorlton in 1926, Kennedy started out as a copyboy on the Northern edition of the Daily Telegraph, but soon began reviewing concerts, returning from the Free Trade Hall and working through the night to meet deadlines.   He rose to become editor of the newspaper, and later became the chief music critic of the Sunday Telegraph, for which he still wrote well into his 80s.

The last time I saw him was at a Hallé concert. The enormous amount of respect and admiration from my colleagues for this man was entirely justified, for, apart from his enthusiastic energy for music, one of the things we all loved most about Michael Kennedy was his commitment and loyalty to the city in which he was born, and the musical life that has always thrived here.

A devoted patron and advocate of all of Manchester’s orchestras, it was undoubtedly the Hallé that was closest to his heart. Following his 1960 biography of the orchestra, he has supported it through good and bad days, and just last year sang Mark Elder’s praises, telling his interviewer: I never thought the glory days of Barbirolli would come back again, but they have”.   I’m so glad that the boy from Chorlton, who loved classical music so much, saw the Hallé on such a high. Manchester’s musical life, in which he had such faith, shall miss him.

Thank you, Cheryl, for this wonderful post.

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