Joseph McLellan, 76; Longtime Music Critic for the Washington Post

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Joseph Duncan McLellan, 76, the Washington Post’s longtime music critic, died of kidney failure Monday at a nursing home in Hyattsville, Md.

As a critic, McLellan was known for his generosity of spirit. He found strongly negative reviews a bit mean, he said, because “you can find weakness in any human effort.” His final review appeared Oct. 13.

“To be the primary critic of a monopoly newspaper is an overwhelming role,” McLellan once told Washingtonian magazine. “You have to tread softly and be fully aware that your taste is not the only valid taste.”

A chess master, McLellan also wrote a column for the Post, covered world chess matches and edited a syndicated column by the Czechoslovakian American grandmaster Lubomir Kavalek.

McLellan, a native of Quincy, Mass., received a bachelor’s degree in French and a master’s degree in French literature from Boston College. After a variety of writing and editing jobs, he joined the Post as an assistant editor of Book World in 1972 and became music critic in 1982.