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Joseph McLellan Dead

Even on vacation, I still do my newspaper reading, and the sad news came to me today -- in an article by Tim Page (A Good Ear, and Heart, December 28) for the Washington Post -- that Washington classical music critic Joseph McLellan died on Monday. Page has some interesting things to say about McLellan's critical stance, which was, as we have noted here before, not particularly critical. He loved listening, and he did a lot of it over his long career. May he rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words. Joe McLellan was my uncle, and I got to job shadow him for a week in the seventies. He skipped the Carter White House St. Patrick's Day party because he had a Japanese lesson that night and wanted to be ready for the National Orchestra tour, which he was covering; but he also was taking private Italian lessons at that time. He worked at understanding.

He also had a sense of humor about his work. He kept his hate mail from Pavarotti coverage in a photo album scrap book. It took up several volumes, and was a hoot to read.

My dad told me about how when Uncle Joe was in college, he and his friends would play passages of classical music for each other and guess the composer. He may have been studying French, but he was preparing himself for a different line of work.

In this age of incivility, where we applaud "pundits" who tear down, so long as they are fun to read, my uncle was a maverick, a critic who strove to educate and appreciate. God did not make two of him; we have suffered a loss. When the authors of destructive bon mots are forgotten, those who love music will still be humming the passages that Uncle Joe led them to explore and appreciate. A student of Latin from an early age, my uncle sought to edify through his writing. That he had fun doing made it all the more enjoyable. Thank you for taking notice.

Charles T. Downey said...

Thank you for the fascinating and personal background about your uncle's life. I feel that I understand him much better having read it.

Princess Alpenrose said...

I always admired the man.

Having grown up in a small East Coast city with some major league artists leading the music & dance scene, yet where the local critic was nothing but a Bully (a "CRITICAL critic") really outright nasty even to teenaged community performers just to sell papers, when I started working in DC (14th & K) in the mid 80's I quickly learned to read and respect McLellan.

I am sad at his passing, his was a good voice in the music scene.

Anonymous said...

I have known Joe for a long time. REally I grew up in DC "just down the street" and had the pleasure of speaking with him now and again, being friends with part (at least) of his family. I applaud Tim Page's appraisal: he was a gentle and a generous soul. Joe seemed to work all the time and his house had more music (not to mention books) in it than any five other houses I have ever seen! Despite work, Joe always was willing to stop for a moment or more to answer a question from a young dilettante or didscuss some artist or performance; it was what he was about: Building appreciation. The world is a better place for his having been in it! M. Wallenstein, Chicago

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for your kind
words about my dad.

Andree McLellan Wheelere