In the New Yorker's seventy-year history, eight people have written the column Musical Events: Robert A. Simon (1925-1948), Philip Hamburger (1948-49), Douglas Watt (1950-53), Winthrop Sergeant (1953-1972), Andrew Porter (1972-92), Nicholas Kenyon (periodically 1980-82), Paul Griffiths (1992-96), and yo. I've been going through old editions of the column on the New Yorker DVD edition. I know Sergeant and Porter from bound collections; Simon is new to me. One of his pieces, from February, 1926, begins: "Enter into the conductorial arena Otto Klemperer, the seven foot dynamo from Wiesbaden, the terror of second trombonists, the cave man who yanks 'em by the collar and shakes sweet music from their quivering instruments, the wild bull of the symphony, Brann the Iconoclast, and all the rest of it.... [we] hope we're not shooing you away from his concerts, for he's worth hearing and seeing." There follows a report on an International Composers' Guild concert that included the premiere of William Grant Still's Levee Land (not named), in which Harlem theater star Florence Mills delivered the solos. Simon doesn't get the bluesy grandeur of the piece, chiding Still for ruining "mellifluous jazz" with "modern music" touches. The column ends with a note on the "fascinating Edna Kellogg," singing Jerome Kern. Simon's breezy, irreverent tone was typical of conversation around classical music in the twenties and thirties. The critic often zig-zagged among classical, jazz, and popular song. He took a break from journalism in the late twenties to pursue a career on Broadway: he wrote lyrics for Ups-a-Daisy, The Gang's All Here, Hold Your Horses, and Champagne, Sec. You'll be happy to hear I'm working on my own Broadway show, Zemlinsky in Larchmont. First number: "One Cannot Find Even a Good Glass of Coffee."
By the way, Paul Griffiths's new Penguin Companion to Classical Music is as successful an attempt at a one-man, one-volume music encyclopedia as you could hope for.