Obituary: John Amis, broadcaster and music critic

Charlotte Smith22nd Aug 2013
Obituary: John Amis, broadcaster and music critic Boradcaster and music critic John Amis has died at the age of 91 (photo: REX/Jonathan Player)

The British broadcaster, critic and music administrator John Amis has died at the age of 91. Born in London in 1922, Amis performed a number of roles in the music industry, including concert manager for Sir Thomas Beecham for several years, concert organiser for cartoonist Gerard Hoffnung and for Myra Hess during her lunchtime series at the National Gallery, and long-time administrative director for the Bryanston turned Dartington International Summer School from 1948-81.

Despite losing the hearing in his left ear while studying at Dulwich College, he became London music critic for The Scotsman for some 15 years, contributor to The Guardian and a regular broadcaster for BBC radio and television during a 40-year period. He was known particularly for his role on BBC Radio 4’s panel show, My Music, from 1974 to 1994, and for his own show on BBC Radio 3.

A friend to many composers and performers, he counted Sir Michael Tippett, Benjamin Britten, Sir Peter Pears, Alan Bush, Sir William Glock and Sir Neville Marriner among his comrades and colleagues. A sometime tenor, Amis took formal singing lessons from Frederick Husler in Germany for several years, but was never considered a professional performer.

Two sets of memoirs - Amiscellany: My Life, My Music and My Music in London 1945-2000 - were published by Faber & Faber in 1985 and by Amiscellany Books in 2006 respectively.

In 1948 he married the violinist Olive Zorian, founder of the Zorian String Quartet, but divorced in 1955. He is survived by his partner of the past six years, Isla Baring.

Amis wrote a number of articles for Gramophone on Walter Legge, including an interview with Legge about Maria Callas in November 1989.

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