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Downes, Edward O(lin) D(avenport)locked

  • Paula Morgan
  • , revised by Jon Stroop

(b Boston, Aug 12, 1911; d New York, Dec 26, 2001). American musicologist and music critic, son of Olin Downes. He attended Columbia University, the Manhattan School of Music and universities in Paris and Munich. From 1939 to 1941 he was music critic for the Boston Transcript. He taught at Wellesley College and the Longy School of Music (1948–9), and was assistant professor of music at the University of Minnesota (1950–55). After taking the doctorate in musicology at Harvard University in 1958 he was musicologist-in-residence at the Bayreuth Festival masterclasses until 1965. He was on the faculty of Queens College and the Graduate School, CUNY (1966–81), and New York University (1981–6), and in 1986 he was appointed professor at the Juilliard School of Music.

As a musicologist Downes concentrated on opera of the early Classical period. In 1958 he became quizmaster for the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts, and he wrote programme notes for the New York PO from 1960 to 1974. His music criticisms were published in the New York Post (1935–8) and the New York Times (1955–8) and he wrote numerous articles for journals such as Opera News and High Fidelity.


  • ed.: Verdi: the Man in his Letters (New York, 1942/R) [enlarged Eng. trans. of F. Werfel and P. Stefan: Giuseppe Verdi: Briefe (Berlin, 1926)]
  • Adventures in Symphonic Music (New York, 1944/R)
  • Review of R.-A. Mooser: L’Opéra-comique français en Russie au XVIIIe siècle (Génève-Monaco, 1954), JAMS, 9 (1956), 46–7
  • Review of L. Bernstein: Serenade for Violin Solo, Strings and Percussion and Symphony of the Air, MQ, 43 (1957), 266–8
  • The Operas of Johann Christian Bach as a Reflection of the Dominant Trends in ‘Opera seria’ 1750–1780 (diss., Harvard U., 1958)
  • Secco Recitative in Early Classical Opera Seria (1720–1780)’, JAMS, 14 (1961), 50–69
  • ‘The Taste Makers: Critics and Criticism’, One Hundred Years of Music in America, ed. P.H. Lang (New York, 1961/R), 230–44
  • ‘The Music of Norman Dello Joio’, MQ, 48 (1962), 149–67
  • ed., with B.S. Brook and S.J. Van Solkema: Perspectives in Musicology (New York, 1972)
  • The New York Philharmonic Guide to the Symphony (New York, 1976)
  • Mahler Month: a Mahler Festival [New York Philharmonic; programme notes], 1976
  • Review of W. Ashbrook: Donizetti and his Operas (Cambridge, 1982), Notes, 40 (1983–4), 44–7
  • with W. Ashbrook and P.L. Miller: ‘Remembering Alexander Kipnis’, OQ, 8/2 (1991), 95–101
  • Foreword to G.A. Marco: Opera: a Research and Information Guide (New York, 2001)


  • E.O.D. Downes, ed.
  • J.C. Bach: Temistocle (Vienna, 1965)
Opera Quarterly
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Musical Quarterly