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Opinion
Our Opinion

Our Opinion: A standing ovation for a music critic

Andrew Pincus in the Tanglewood Shed (copy)

Andrew Pincus in the Tanglewood Shed. This has been his seat for years. 

The Berkshire Eagle’s classical music critics over the last century is a short list of long stints. Jay Rosenfeld, who started the job in 1919, did it until 1975, after which Andrew Pincus took up the sharp responsibility of the critic’s pen, wielding it for 46 years with cutting insight, encyclopedic knowledge and, of course, a resonant love of music.

As he begins his retirement, Mr. Pincus’ deep dives on world-class musical performances at Tanglewood and other venues throughout the county’s cultural corridor will not appear in the summer pages of The Eagle for the first time in four and a half decades. The impact of that tenure is immeasurable, and while its absence will be missed, we are beyond grateful for what Mr. Pincus’ dedication to his craft has brought to our paper and its readers through scores of summer seasons and multiple generations of musical icons.

Mr. Pincus’ byline always signaled a passionate professionalism that matched his workmanlike consistency. He helped decades’ worth of Eagle arts sections rise to the occasion of covering a Berkshire classical music scene anchored by the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. That meant matching the substance of geniuses like Seiji Ozawa, Y-Yo Ma and Leonard Bernstein (he covered the legendary composer’s final concert in 1990) in his critique and analysis.

That’s no small feat, but it was one Mr. Pincus was primed to accomplish. He studied music at Dartmouth College, but pursued a career in journalism. After cutting his teeth at newspapers in New Jersey, he landed an editor’s job at The Berkshire Eagle in 1967. When Mr. Rosenfeld died in 1975, The Eagle needed someone to fill the shoes of the long-serving classical music critic. Enter Mr. Pincus, and the rest, as they say, is history. In addition to covering countless concerts at Tanglewood, Aston Magna, Berkshire Bach Society, Williams College’s student-faculty Berkshire Symphony and many more, Mr. Pincus has authored three books on classical music (two involving Tanglewood) and received two ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for music criticism. Through it all, he not only produced reams of reviews but built a reputation as a thorough and fair critic among his peers and subjects alike.

“Through all of this, he’s remained true to a set of criteria that always puts absolute musical values at the core, regardless of fads or fashions or commercial appeal,” BSO vice president of artistic planning Tony Fogg told an Eagle reporter upon hearing of Mr. Pincus’ retirement.

Ronald Feldman, music director of the Berkshire Symphony and a former BSO cellist of 34 years, added: “Whether you were the Boston Symphony or the Berkshire Symphony, he was careful to make fair judgments. His knowledge of contemporary music was always well-researched. ... I didn’t always agree with his critiques but I always found much to learn from his comments. I always looked forward to reading his reviews. I wish him well.”

We also wish Mr. Pincus well in retirement, and we thank him for a sustained career in music critique that has elevated this paper’s coverage and the Berkshire music scene for nearly half a century. Bravo, maestro. Enjoy the well-earned rest — and concerts without the deadlines.

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