Known for Writings in The New Yorker : Music Critic Winthrop Sargeant Dies

From Times Wire Services

Winthrop Sargeant, an elder of the nation’s music critics whose writings in The New Yorker entertained and informed readers for more than for 20 years, has died at age 82.

Sargeant died Aug. 15 at his Salisbury, Conn., home.

He was a champion of such consonant, directly emotive composers as Gian Carlo Menotti and Vittorio Giannini. He also wrote about jazz, publishing a book, “Jazz: Hot and Hybrid,” in 1938.

Born in San Francisco, Sargeant studied violin and at the age of 18 joined the San Francisco Symphony as the orchestra’s youngest member.


He also played for the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York under Arturo Toscanini.

A distaste for the musician’s life and a love of writing led Sargeant to switch to journalism at the age of 28.

He wrote for Musical America, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, The New York American and Time magazine, where he was the music editor from 1937 to 1945. He joined The New Yorker in 1949 and wrote the column “Musical Events” through 1972 and contributed an occasional criticism until his death.

Besides an interest in music, Sargeant was fascinated by Eastern philosophies. He did profiles on Zen Buddhist D. T. Suzuki, and translated the Bhagavad-Gita from Sanskrit to English.

His other books include “Geniuses, Goddesses and People,” a collection of essays of many of the musical celebrities he had interviewed over the years; “Listening to Music;” “Divas: Impressions of Today’s Sopranos” and an autobiography, “In Spite of Myself, A Personal Memoir.”

William Shawn, editor of The New Yorker, said Sargeant “will be remembered for and will continue to be read for his originality of mind, his independence of spirit, his erudition, his eloquence, his steadfast belief in tonal music and his principled, philosophically grounded resistance to musical fashion.”