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Michael Kennedy Papers

Date range: 1925-2008

Medium: Archive

Archive of Michael Kennedy (1926-2014) the Manchester-born music critic and author.

Kennedy joined the staff of the Daily Telegraph in Manchester at the age of fifteen and rose to the position of Northern Editor in 1960, a position he retained until 1986. However, his principal claim to fame is as one of the leading music critics of the twentieth century. He was appointed Staff Music Critic of the Telegraph in 1950 and for over sixty years he wrote many hundreds of reviews for the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph. He counted numerous distinguished composers, conductors and musicians among his friends, and a number invited Kennedy to be their official biographer.

The main archive, presented by Michael Kennedy in 1975-6, consists primarily of manuscript and typescript copies of his published works. These include authorized biographies of Ralph Vaughan Williams and John Barbirolli, books on Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and Edward Elgar, and books on Manchester and its musical tradition - notably histories of the Hallé‚ and the Royal Manchester (later Northern) College of Music.

In addition, Kennedy's papers include a number of letters from Elgar's daughter, Carice Elgar Blake, and a large bundle of correspondence generated during Kennedy's research for his book on Vaughan Williams. The latter includes notes and letters from various well-known composers, conductors, musicians and writers who were acquainted with the composer, such as Adrian Boult, John Barbirolli, Benjamin Britten and Bertrand Russell. There is also a large quantity of correspondence with the composer's widow, Ursula Vaughan Williams.

In 2018 the archive was substantially augmented by a generous donation from Michael Kennedy's widow, Joyce. The additional material comprises his reviews of concerts and performances, 1970-2008; manuscript and annotated typescript drafts for two further books, Britten (London: Dent, 1981) and Adrian Boult (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1987); and additional files of articles, research notes and drafts on Strauss, Mahler and Elgar.

Further information:

  • Catalogue of main archive available online via ELGAR.
  • Additional material uncatalogued.


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