Eric McLean | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Eric McLean

Eric (Donald) McLean. Critic, historian, pianist, b Montreal 25 Sep 1919, d there 19 Aug 2002; honorary LL D (Concordia) 1995.

McLean, Eric

Eric (Donald) McLean. Critic, historian, pianist, b Montreal 25 Sep 1919, d there 19 Aug 2002; honorary LL D (Concordia) 1995. He studied piano in Montreal with Alfred La Liberté and Paul Lafrance and later studied harmony and composition with Champagne, privately and at the McGill Conservatory During World War II he was a wireless operator for the RAF Transport Command. In 1946 he joined the Montreal Standard as assistant editor, becoming its music critic the following year. In 1949 he succeeded H.P. Bell as music critic of the Montreal Daily Star and served in that position until the Star closed in 1979. In November of that year he became music critic of the Montreal Gazette, retiring in 1988 with the title of 'critic emeritus.' One of the first advocates of the preservation of historic Montreal McLean became a member, and later president, of the Jacques Viger Commission in 1962 and wrote The Living Past of Montreal (Montreal 1964; 3rd rev ed 1993). He was a member 1957-75 and later to 1998, and vice-president 1975-7, of the Arts Council of Greater Montreal, president 1965-6 of the Music Critics' Association of America, and served on the Canada Council 1970-7. Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (England), McLean was also awarded the Canadian Music Council Medal in 1973 and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1975. In 1993 La Société historique de Montréal awarded him its medal. His translation of Jean Palardy's Meubles anciens du Canada francais was published in 1963 as The Early Furniture of French Canada. He contributed articles to several music and art publications (Opera Canada, including the 1990-95 series" Great Canadian musical figures of the past"; the Canada Music Book, the Canadian Music Journal, The New Grove Dictionary, and EMC) and broadcast often for CBC radio as a critic or commentator. His reviews were a deft mixture of lucid writing, perceptive judgment, scholarship, and subtle humour. His papers were donated to the NL of C in 1986.


'Hanslick had it better,' World of Music, vol 14, no. 3, 1972

"Eric McLean remembers," Music McGill, spring 1992

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