Music Critic Paul Hume, 85, Dies


(AP) Paul Hume, an unswerving music critic who once drew the ire of President Harry Truman after he panned his daughter’s recital, died Monday of pneumonia at his home in Baltimore. He was 85.

Hume worked for The Washington Post and built a reputation as one of the most learned critics in the nation. Classical music legends Vladimir Horowitz, Eugene Ormandy, and Leonard Bernstein all held Hume in high esteem.

Hume will always be remembered for his review of a recital by Truman’s daughter, Margaret, in 1950.

He wrote, “Miss Truman cannot sing very well. She is flat a good deal of the time — more so last night than any time we have heard her in past years.”

After reading the review, Truman wrote a letter to Hume.

“It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful,” the letter said. “Someday I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter for below.”

Truman’s remarks got him in hot water with the public, which felt he shouldn’t take time to joust with critics as the nation fought the Korean War.

A Chicago native, Hume taught music history at Georgetown University from 1950 to 1977 and was a visiting professor at Yale University from 1975 to 1983.

He wrote several books, including a study of Catholic church music and a biography of Giuseppe Verdi.

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