Harold Rosenthal

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Harold Rosenthal
BornHarold David Rosenthal
Alma mater University College London
Occupation Music critic, writer

Harold David Rosenthal OBE (30 September 1917 – 19 March 1987) was an English music critic, writer, lecturer, and broadcaster about opera. Originally a schoolmaster, he became drawn to music, particularly opera, and began working on musical publications. On the foundation of Opera magazine in London in 1950, Rosenthal was assistant editor, and became editor in 1953, retaining the post until 1986.

Opera is a monthly British magazine devoted to covering all things related to opera. It contains reviews and articles about current opera productions internationally, as well as articles on opera recordings, opera singers, opera companies, opera directors, and opera books. The magazine also contains major features and analysis on individual operas and people associated with opera.


He was a continual campaigner on behalf of opera, and was a strong opponent of its élitist image and inflated seat prices. In the early 1950s he was appointed archivist to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, which led to his most substantial publication, Two Centuries of Opera at Covent Garden.

Royal Opera House opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London

The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel's first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.

Life and career

Rosenthal was born in West Norwood, London, the son of Israel Victor Rosenthal, a schoolmaster, and his wife, Leah née Samuel. He was educated at the City of London School and University College, London, where he took his BA in 1940, continuing with post-graduate studies at the London Institute of Education. In World War II he served as a private in the British army. In 1944 he married Lillah Phyllis Weiner with whom he had a son and a daughter. [1]

West Norwood residential area of south London within the London Borough of Lambeth and in this place live Adele

West Norwood is a largely residential area of south London within the London Borough of Lambeth, located 5.4 miles (8.7 km) south south-east of Charing Cross. The centre of West Norwood sits in a bowl surrounded by hillsides on its east, west and south sides. From many parts of the area, distant views can be seen, of places such as the City of London, Canary Wharf and Crystal Palace.

City of London School school in the City of London, England

The City of London School, also known as CLS and City, is an independent day school for boys in the City of London, England, on the banks of the River Thames next to the Millennium Bridge, opposite Tate Modern. It is a partner school of the City of London School for Girls and the City of London Freemen's School. All three schools receive funding from the City's Cash. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC).

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

After the war, Rosenthal became a schoolmaster, teaching history and English from 1946 to 1950. [2] He became increasingly interested in music, appearing frequently as a critic and lecturer, particularly on opera. From 1947 to 1952 he was a correspondent for the American journal Opera News . A fellow enthusiast for opera, Lord Harewood, worked with him on the journal Ballet and Opera in 1948 and 1949. In 1950 Harewood founded the magazine Opera and invited Rosenthal to join him as assistant editor. [3] Rosenthal resigned from his teaching post and devoted himself to music for the rest of his life. [3] When Harewood left to take up work in opera administration, Rosenthal succeeded him as editor, holding the post from 1953 until 1986. In the early years of his editorship he was also archivist to the Royal Opera House (1950–56) which led to his most substantial book, Two Centuries of Opera at Covent Garden (1958). From 1955 to 1960 he was a correspondent for the journal Musical America. [1]

<i>Opera News</i> American classical music magazine.

Opera News is an American classical music magazine. It has been published since 1936 by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, a non-profit organization located at Lincoln Center which was founded to engender the appreciation of opera and also support the Metropolitan Opera of New York City. Opera News was initially focused primarily on the Met, particularly providing information for listeners of the Saturday afternoon live Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts. Over the years, the magazine has broadened its scope to include the larger American and international opera scenes. Currently published monthly, Opera News offers opera related feature articles; artist interviews; production profiles; musicological pieces; music-business reportage; reviews of performances in the United States and Europe; reviews of recordings, videos, books and audio equipment; and listings of opera performances in the U.S.

George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood British noble

George Henry Hubert Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood,, styled The Hon. George Lascelles before 1929 and Viscount Lascelles between 1929 and 1947, was a British music director and author. He served as director of the Royal Opera House, chairman of the board of the English National Opera (ENO) (1986–95); managing director of the ENO (1972–85), managing director of the English National Opera North (1978–81), governor of the BBC (1985–87), and president of the British Board of Film Classification (1985–96).

Grove's Dictionary of Music said of Rosenthal, "under his guidance [Opera magazine] came to provide an extensive coverage of operatic events throughout the world and exercised considerable influence on operatic life in Britain. … Rosenthal's work is highly regarded for its judiciousness, based on a thorough knowledge of the human voice and the operatic repertory." [4] He was particularly noted for his opposition to the élitist image that resulted in exorbitant prices for opera tickets and for his key role in broadening opera's appeal after World War II. [2] As a reviewer he was known for his generosity, giving the benefit of the doubt to performers, particularly when writing about young singers. [3]

In addition to his writing, Rosenthal was recruited in an administrative capacity in a variety of musical roles. He was a member of the British Arts Council Patrons of Music Fund (1960–70) and chairman of the music section of the Critics' Circle of Great Britain (1965–67). From 1962 he served on the council of the Friends of Covent Garden. He also played an administrative role in international festivals, notably Edinburgh. [1] He was made a cavaliere ufficiale of the Order of Merit of the republic of Italy in 1977, and was awarded the British OBE in 1983. [1]

Order of the British Empire order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Rosenthal also received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1985 [5]

Rosenthal died in London in 1987, aged 69. [1]


Rosenthal's principal books include:

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Seaman, G. R. "Rosenthal, Harold David (1917–1987)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Retrieved 28 December 2009
  2. 1 2 3 Contemporary Authors Online "Harold (David) Rosenthal", Gale. Retrieved 28 December 2009
  3. 1 2 3 The Times (London), obituary, 21 March 1987
  4. Sadie, Stanley. "Rosenthal, Harold D(avid)", Oxford Music Online (requires subscription). Retrieved 27 December 2009
  5. webperson@hw.ac.uk. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". www1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2016.