We've just come across a posting by theater critic, playwright, and author George Hunka on his blog Superfluities Redux titled "The Complete Critic’s Qualifications" wherein he reiterates theater and drama critic Harold Clurman’s 1964 list of the so-called "12 commandments" for theatre and drama critics and comments on same. It struck us that those 12 commandments are equally valid for classical music critics (classical music including opera of course) and so herewith reprint that list below, mutatis mutandis.
Besides having cultivated taste, feeling and a talent for clear observation of all classical musics:Mr. Hunka remarks of the original list that "of contemporary critics, and judging only by what they publish under the guise of criticism, I can count the number of both online and print reviewers who meet [these] qualifications on the fingers of one hand." Word!, re, the above list.
1. The critic should know the greater part of historical and contemporary classical music as written and performed. Added to this, he must be conversant with general literature: novels, poetry, essays of wide scope.
2. He should know the history of classical music from its origins to the present.
3. He should have a long and broad concert- and opera-going experience — of native and foreign ensembles.
4. He should possess an interest in and a familiarity with the arts: painting, theater, architecture and the dance.
5. He should have worked in classical music organizations in some capacity (apart from criticism).
6. He should know the history of his country and world history: the social thinking of past and present.
7. He should have something like a philosophy, an attitude toward life.
8. He should write lucidly, and, if possible, gracefully.
9. He should respect his readers by upholding high standards and encourage his readers to cultivate the same.
10. He should be aware of his prejudices and blind spots.
11. He should err on the side of generosity rather than an opposite zeal.
12. He should seek to enlighten rather than carp or puff.