OBITUARIES : Irving Kolodin; Classical Record Reviewer, Author

Irving Kolodin, once one of the most revered of this nation’s music critics and the first of the well-known musicologists to seriously review recorded classical music, is dead at 80.

The New York Times reported that Kolodin died Friday in a New York City nursing home. He had been incapacitated for the past year after suffering a stroke.

When high fidelity recorded music was first becoming popular in the 1950s--at a time when playback equipment was keeping pace with advances in recording techniques--Kolodin’s critiques in the Saturday Review could spell considerable commercial difference for almost any album.


Chronicled Opera

His first book of record reviews, “A Guide to Recorded Music,” had appeared in 1941 and was followed by “Mozart on Records” in 1942, “The Saturday Review Home Book of Recorded Music and Sound Reproduction” in 1952 and “Orchestral Music” in 1955.

Kolodin also was a pre-eminent chronicler of the Metropolitan Opera. His publication in 1936 of “The Metropolitan Opera: 1883-1935" launched his career as a critic and historian. He published a second edition, “The Story of the Metropolitan Opera, 1883-1950,” in 1953 which he updated in 1966. The Times reported he was at work on an edition tracing the first 100 years of the company when he suffered the stroke last year.

Kolodin studied music as a boy and went to work for the New York Sun in 1932, advancing to chief critic. He joined the Saturday Review in 1947 and remained until the magazine’s format was changed in 1982. During that time he also put together several highlight albums for RCA Victor including “Critic’s Choice” and “50 Years of Great Operatic Singing.” In 1970 he chose the classical portion of the first White House music library.

Most recently he had taught at the Juilliard School and contributed to various publications.