Concert Reviews | CD Reviews | DVD Reviews | Opera | Early Music | News | Film | Art | Books | Kids

19.5.08

Saying Goodbye to Tim Page

Whether you know Tim Page from his articles in the Washington Post, Newsday, or the New York Times, his books, the liner notes in your CDs, or from his 11 years at WNYC-FM, you can't come away from the experience without great respect for his ability to say what he wants to say lucidly, and concisely. For the last 13 years, his presence at the Post was first the pride of the Style section, in recent years its saving grace.

Shortly before he began his sabbatical to teach at the University of Southern California, controversy broke at the Washington Post over a publicized private, rather colorful e-mail of his; a regrettable situation to which only Page responded with dignity, but nonetheless giving his departure an unfortunately sour tinge.

Since Tim Page’s departure, Washington has had the pleasure to read Anne Midgette’s reviews, but many readers – even those who often disagreed with Page – must have harbored hopes for his criticism to return to the Post again. This hope is now dashed. Tim Page is among those who took the Washington Post’s offer in its third and largest buyout to date.

This may only confirm expectations, but it is a sad day all the same if Washington were not to show up on his travel itinerary anymore. (Also: now I don’t know whether to write about his work in the past tense or not.) His presence in the music scene will be missed. Foremost because his eminently readable yet erudite articles were sometimes the best thing about the cultural offerings in DC. Susanne Zack gets the right tone when she says that “Tim Page’s voice resonates with originality, elegance, and authority”. The quiet authority that he exudes comes not the least from the fact that he is one of the few remaining conservatory trained critics around. He studied composition at the Mannes College of Music: not just a communicator of impressions, but a critic who knows the substance of what he was writing about inside out. And yet there is not an ounce of academicism in his writing.

His reviews for the Post were rarely cutting, biting occasionally, and often of a great warmth. They seemed moody sometimes, but were never sycophantic, never cynical, never gushing, never erratically critical. And throughout most of his articles, if not all, ran a splendid grace that those who are acquainted with him know to come from a dignity, humility, and most of all a kindness that superseded all other fluctuating emotions. There may be a select few who have raised his ire (by way of disappointment), but when you talk to friends and colleagues of his, he is again and again described as the epitome of “good people”. As a writer at the Post he can be substituted for, but not replaced. As a friend, he’s become the best reason to fly to California.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Question: my understanding was that Midgette's assignment was only temporary. So once she leaves, the Post will have no full time music critic, correct? Or maybe I am wrong (let's hope so...)

Anonymous said...

WP cultural editor John Pancake's buy-out acceptance is another loss to the Post and the area's cultural community, in my view; though he would of course be warmly welcomed here in the region in another cultural role.

zeno

Charles T. Downey said...

As mentioned in Sunday's In Brief post, the buyouts extend far and wide, not only in Style but throughout the paper. Many distinctive voices are moving on, for better or worse.

Clifton West said...

Tim Page's official departure from the Post is indeed sad news. He was like his predecessor Joseph McClellan a great supporter of local arts organizations, and greatly helped our early music group, The Suspicious Cheese Lords when we were in our infancy. We will miss him dearly.

Anonymous said...

But can anybody answer the questions please: will Midgette stay? Thanks!

jfl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.