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New York Times Music Critic Steps Down After 20 Years

Anthony Tommasini became a staff writer for the paper in 1996, and was promoted to chief classical music critic in 2000


Following two thoughtful and provocative decades as chief music critic of the New York Times, Anthony "Tony" Tommasini has stepped down in order to pursue other passions.

Tommasini began his journalistic career at the Boston Globe in 1986. He spent a decade there before arriving in New York.

After four years at the New York Times, he was promoted into the role of Chief Music Critic.

Originally a pianist, he graduated from Yale University and Boston University, receiving a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the latter. He served in teaching roles at Emerson College and gave workshops in nonfiction writing at Wesleyan University and Brandeis University.

Tommasini received early mentorship from composer and critic Virgil Thomson; he subsequently released two CDs of Thomson's piano music and was also the author of Thomson's biography. Additionally, Tommasini has written two other books, and a new collection of essays is forthcoming.

His work at the Times has often been stimulating and provocative, influencing the industry in a number of matters. In 2014, for instance, Tommasini urged American orchestras to end the practice of blind auditions and instead take an affirmative-action approach, with the goal of increasing player diversity.

Tommasini has also played a significant role in the preservation of musical history. In 1996, for instance, he conducted the last-ever interview with Jonathan Larson, creator of the hit musical "Rent." Larson died later that evening of an aortic aneurysm, and without Tommasini's interview, the story of the musical's genesis would never have been recorded.

“I have been honored, humbled and grateful to be a chief critic at, let’s face it, the world’s finest, most important newspaper,” said Tommasini. “Being among so many awesomely impressive and supportive colleagues has inspired me continuously. But I want to do some teaching again. I have a couple book ideas. I want to see if I can remember how to play the piano!”

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