Peter Graffam Davis (March 3, 1936 –February 13, 2021) was an American opera and classical music critic. He was the classical music critic for the magazine New York from 1980 until 2007. He also wrote for The New York Times , Musical America , and Opera News among other publications. He previously worked for The New York Times and authored the book, The American Opera Singer.
Davis was born in Concord, Massachusetts, on March 3, 1936.His father, E. Russell Davis, worked as a vice president for the Bank of Boston; his mother, Susan (Graffam) Davis, was a housewife. Davis was raised in nearby Lincoln. He developed a keen interest in opera during his teenage years, compiling a record collection and attending concerts held in Boston.
Davis studied music at Harvard College, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1958. Several months before his third year, he did a tour of the summer music festivals in Europe. He subsequently spent one year at the Stuttgart Hochschule für Musik,before undertaking postgraduate studies at Columbia University. There, he studied under Jack Beeson and Otto Luening, and earned a master's degree in composition in 1962. By 1967, Davis was the music editor of High Fidelity and Musical America as well as the New York music correspondent for The Times of London.
Davis first worked as a music critic for The New York Times in 1967. He started off authoring freelance articles, before becoming the paper's Sunday music editor seven years later. This enabled him to commission other writers for articles, in addition to his everyday reviews of recordings, concerts, and first recitals. He subsequently became critic for New York magazine in 1981. He critiqued all genres of classical music; his specialty and passion lay with opera and vocal music. He was also noted for writing disapprovingly of up-and-coming music and composers who he believed were overrated, such as Philip Glass and Beverly Sills.Davis published the book The American Opera Singer in 1997. It chronicled modern American performers, applauding their versatility while criticizing many for being "superficial workhorses".
After over a quarter of a century with New York, Davis was requested to sign an "agreement of separation" in June 2007.The magazine decided to abolish the full-time position of classical music critic. Davis stated that this was "euphemistic for being fired", and lamented how "classical music is of less and less interest to [the editorial leadership]". Consequently, he returned to The New York Times as a freelancer and was a regular contributor to Opera News and Musical America .
Davis married Scott Parris in 2009. They remained married until the former's death.Davis suffered a stroke in 2018. He died on February 13, 2021, at Mount Sinai West in New York City. He was 84, and suffered a brief illness prior to his death.
Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, conductor, pianist, music educator, author, and lifelong humanitarian. He was one of the most significant American cultural personalities of the 20th century. According to music critic Donal Henahan, he was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history".
Sir Colin Rex Davis was an English conductor, known for his association with the London Symphony Orchestra, having first conducted it in 1959. His repertoire was broad, but among the composers with whom he was particularly associated were Mozart, Berlioz, Elgar, Sibelius, Stravinsky and Tippett.
Mary Violet Leontyne Price is an American soprano. Born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi, she rose to international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s, and was the first African American to become a leading performer at the Metropolitan Opera, and one of the most popular American classical singers of her generation.
Osvaldo Noé Golijov is an Argentine composer of classical music and music professor, known for his vocal and orchestral work.
The New York City Opera (NYCO) is an American opera company located in Manhattan in New York City. The company has been active from 1943 through 2013, and again since 2016 when it was revived.
Jessye Norman was an American opera singer and recitalist. She was able to perform dramatic soprano roles, but refused to be limited to that voice type. She was a commanding presence on operatic, concert and recital stages, associated with roles including Beethoven's Leonore, Wagner's Sieglinde and Kundry, Cassandre and Didon by Berlioz and Bartók's Judith. The New York Times music critic Edward Rothstein described her voice as a "grand mansion of sound", and wrote that "it has enormous dimensions, reaching backward and upward. It opens onto unexpected vistas. It contains sunlit rooms, narrow passageways, cavernous halls."
Thomas Walter Hampson is an American lyric baritone, a classical singer who has appeared world-wide in major opera houses and concert halls and made over 170 musical recordings.
Robert Spano is an American conductor and pianist. He is currently music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, and music director-designate of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
Peter Gelb is an American arts administrator. Since August 2006, he has been General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
Henry Jay Lewis was an American double-bassist and orchestral conductor whose career extended over four decades. A child prodigy, he joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic at age 16, becoming the first African-American instrumentalist in a major symphony orchestra and, later, the first African-American symphony orchestra conductor in the United States. As musical director of the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra, he supported America's cultural diplomacy initiatives in Europe after World War II.
James Lawrence Levine is an American conductor and pianist. He is primarily known for his tenure as Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, a position he held for 40 years (1976–2016). He was formally terminated from all his positions and affiliations with the Met on March 12, 2018, over sexual misconduct allegations, which he denies.
Alan Gilbert is an American conductor and violinist. He is a past music director of the New York Philharmonic (2009–2017), and is currently principal conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra.
Deborah Voigt is an American dramatic soprano who has sung roles in operas by Wagner and Richard Strauss.
Paride ed Elena is an opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck. It is the third of Gluck's so-called reform operas for Vienna, following Alceste and Orfeo ed Euridice, and the least often performed of the three. Like its predecessors, the libretto was written by Ranieri de' Calzabigi. The opera tells the story of the events between the Judgment of Paris and the flight of Paris and Helen to Troy. It was premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 3 November 1770.
Anthony Dean Griffey is an American opera tenor. He is a regular presence on the stages of opera houses and concert halls around the world. Griffey has also been noted for his acting talent in addition to his voice.
Gil Rose is the founder and conductor of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), founder and General-Artistic Director of Odyssey Opera, Artistic Director of Monadnock Music Festival, Professor of Practice at Northeastern University, and Executive Producer of the record label "BMOP/sound."
James Maddalena is an American baritone who is chiefly associated with contemporary American opera. He gained international recognition in 1987 when he originated the role of Richard Nixon at the premiere of John Adams's opera Nixon in China at Houston. He has since reprised the role on many occasions, and recorded it for the Nonesuch Records release of the opera in 1987. In addition to Maddelena's role as Nixon, he has originated two other Adams characters: the Captain in The Death of Klinghoffer and Jack Hubbard in Doctor Atomic. He has also performed roles in the premieres of operas by Paul Moravec and Stewart Wallace among other American composers.
James Ruben Oestreich is a classical music critic for The New York Times, where he has written about music since 1989. He grew up in Wisconsin.
Robert White is an American tenor and voice teacher who has had an active performance career for eight decades. If he is not better known to the general public, it is because his career, confined to art song and the concert stage, has not brought him the wider renown of singers who make their careers in opera; but he has long been cherished by connoisseurs of vocal music for the pure lyric sweetness of his voice and his scrupulous musicianship.
Ken Noda is an American concert pianist, accompanist, vocal coach, and composer. He began composing music and performing as a concert pianist before the age of 11. He has performed with symphony orchestras throughout the world, and has composed numerous art songs and five operas. He worked as a vocal coach at the Metropolitan Opera from 1991 until retiring from his full time position in July 2019.