Tim Page (music critic)

Tim Page (born October 11, 1954) is an American writer, editor, music critic, producer and professor. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic, the editor and biographer of the American author Dawn Powell, and the chronicler of his own experiences growing up with undiagnosed Asperger syndrome.


Page was born in San Diego, California. He grew up in Storrs, Connecticut, where his father, Ellis Batten Page, was a professor of education at the University of Connecticut.[1] In 1967, he was the subject of a short documentary, A Day With Timmy Page, that chronicled his early interest in filmmaking.[2]

Page moved to New York in 1975, attended the Mannes College The New School for Music for two years, and then transferred to Columbia University.[3] By the time of his graduation in 1979, Page was writing for the arts magazine Soho News and other publications and hosting a contemporary music program on the Columbia radio station, WKCR.[4] In 1981, he began an 11-year association with WNYC-FM, where he presented an afternoon program that broadcast interviews with composers and musicians, including Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Philip Glass and Steve Reich.[5] An interview with Glenn Gould, comparing the pianist's two versions of Bach's Goldberg Variations, was released as part of a three-CD set entitled A State of Wonder: The Complete Goldberg Variations 1955 & 1981 in 2002.[5] In 1982, Page joined The New York Times, where he was a music writer and culture reporter until 1987,[5] and he became chief music critic of Newsday in 1987.[3]

Page was appointed the chief classical music critic of The Washington Post in 1995,[3] and in 1997 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for what the Pulitzer board called his "lucid and illuminating music criticism";[6] in the preceding year he had written subjects that included the decline of classical music recordings and the position of the violin section in the orchestra.[7] He has also written widely on film and literature for the Post and elsewhere. Page edited works of Dawn Powell, beginning in the 1990s, and wrote a biography of the author, Dawn Powell: A Biography (1998). He later edited and annotated the Library of America's two-volume collection of Powell's work published in 2001.[8]

In 1993, Page served as the first executive producer for BMG Catalyst, a short-lived record label. Projects included Spiked, an album of music by Spike Jones with liner notes by Thomas Pynchon; Memento Bittersweet, an album of music by Chris DeBlasio, Kevin Oldham, Lee Gannon and other composers; Night of the Mayas, the first CD devoted entirely to orchestral works by Silvestre Revueltas, Mexico's leading composer; two solo recital discs by violinist Maria Bachmann and several others.[5] Bruce Brubaker recounted how Page introduced him to Philip Glass.[9]

Page has also produced concerts at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to New York's Mudd Club.[10] From 1999 to 2001, he was the artistic advisor and creative chair for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.[11] He has helped launch revivals of the writings of Sigrid Undset and Robert Green Ingersoll, and he wrote an appreciation of the late singer-songwriter Judee Sill, whom Page considers "an artist of extraordinary gifts.[12]

On solo careers for child artists, Page has written skeptically, calling them "unwarranted exposure", and writing "the cult of the prodigy has always struck me as one of the most debased aspects of the music world".[13] He also wrote: "I mistrust the "cute kid" brigade for two principal reasons: It is deeply exploitative and often ruinous to young artists, and it transforms age ... into a liability for more seasoned players."[14] On the other hand he was an early champion of Midori Gotō, about whom he wrote a profile.[15] Page has also written on Frederica von Stade,[16] Magnetic Fields [17] and High Llamas.[18]

In November 2007 Page sent an e-mail from his Post account in response to an unsolicited press release about former Washington mayor Marion Barry's views concerning a hospital. Page's e-mail read: "Must we hear about it every time this crack addict attempts to rehabilitate himself with some new – and typically half-witted – political grandstanding? ... I cannot think of anything the useless Marion Barry could do that would interest me in the slightest, up to and including overdose." Page apologized but claimed that Barry's aide had been rude to him in a previous request to be taken off the e-mail list. The aide denied any previous contact with Page.[19][20]

After leaving the Post in 2007, Page was named a professor of journalism and music at the University of Southern California.[21] He currently lives in South Los Angeles, California.[22] In 2015, he was appointed "Visiting Scholar in Residence" at Oberlin College.[23]

Asperger syndrome

In August 2007 Page revealed in The New Yorker that he had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, "in the course of a protracted effort to identify – and, if possible, alleviate – my lifelong unease".[24] His book-length memoir Parallel Play was published by Doubleday in September 2009 and is about his experience growing up with the disorder.[25] "Page does not glorify or mythologize his condition, nor does he render a portrait of a soul victimized by circumstance", Samantha Dunn wrote in her review for the Los Angeles Times.[26]

Selected bibliography

  • The Hip Pocket Guide to New York (Harper and Row, 1982). Editor.
  • The Glenn Gould Reader (Alfred A. Knopf, 1984). Editor.
  • Selected Letters of Virgil Thomson, with Vanessa Weeks Page (Summit Books, 1988). Editor.
  • William Kapell: An Illustrated Life History of the American Pianist (International Piano Archives at Maryland, 1992). Author.
  • Music From The Road: Views and Reviews 1978–1992 (Oxford University Press, 1992). Anthology of previously published work.
  • Dawn Powell at Her Best (Steerforth Press, 1994). Editor.
  • The Diaries of Dawn Powell: 1931–1965 (Steerforth Press, 1995). Discovered, edited and annotated Powell's diaries.
  • Dawn Powell: A Biography (Henry Holt, 1998). Author.
  • Selected Letters of Dawn Powell (Henry Holt, 1999). Editor.
  • Dawn Powell: Novels 1930–1942 and Dawn Powell: Novels 1944–1962 (Library of America, 2001). Editor.
  • The Unknown Sigrid Undset (Steerforth, 2001). Editor.
  • Glenn Gould: A Life In Pictures (Random House, 2002). Author.
  • Tim Page on Music (Amadeus Press, 2002). Collection of previously published work.
  • “What’s God Got to Do With It?”: Robert Ingersoll on Free Thought, Honest Talk and the Separation of Church and State (Steerforth Press, 2005). Editor.
  • Parallel Play: Growing Up With Undiagnosed Asperger's (Doubleday, 2009; reissued in 2010 with changes)
  • Carnegie Hall Treasures (HarperCollins,2011)
  • "Virgil Thomson: Music Chronicles" (Library of America, 2014). Editor.


  1. "Ellis Page : Obituary". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  2. "Tim Page: Patron of the Music Collection | University Libraries". Lib.uconn.edu. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  3. "The Pulitzer Prizes | Biography". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  4. Rockwell, John (March 30, 1979). "The Pop Life; 'Fusion,' WKCR and the Tomato label". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2012. (subscription required)
  5. "Tim Page | USC Thornton School of Music". Music.usc.edu. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  6. "The 1997 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Criticism". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  7. McAllister, Bill (April 8, 1997). "Post Music Critic Tim Page Wins Pulitzer; Newspapers in Seattle, New Orleans Each Receive Two Awards". The Washington Post. p. A.01.
  8. Dawn Powell (2001-09-01). "Dawn Powell Novels 1930–1942 (The Library of America)". Loa.org. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  9. Bruce Brubaker. "First Glass | PianoMorphosis". Artsjournal.com. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  10. Professor Tim Page. Staff Profile. University of Southern California. (USA).
  11. "Faculty Search | USC Thornton School of Music". Usc.edu. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  12. Page, Tim (December 30, 2006). "A Brief Life, an Enduring Musical Impression". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  13. Page, Tim (December 30, 2011). "Talented young musicians run the risk of burning out early". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  14. Page, Tim (July 11, 1999). "A Critic's Closing Lines: Tim Page, Leaving on A Fond & Hopeful Note". The Washington Post. p. G01. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  15. "Unpretentious Prodigy Puzzled by All the Fuss". The New York Times. July 29, 1986.
  16. "Von Stade Conquers Her Fear of the Contemporary". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  17. "Tim Page on Music: Views and Reviews - Tim Page - Google Books". Books.google.com. 2000-05-07. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  18. "Tim Page on Music: Views and Reviews - Tim Page - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  19. Kurtz, Howard. "Post Critic Page Apologizes for E-Mail Remarks", The Washington Post, November 13, 2007, accessed March 1, 2015
  20. Gross, Terry. "Asperger's Diagnosis a Life-Changer For 'Outsider'", National Public Radio, 13 October 2009, accessed March 25, 2018
  21. "USC Annenberg | Tim Page". Annenberg.usc.edu. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  22. Bill Lucey (2012-06-29). "Tim Page, Former Washington Post Music Critic, Opened a New Chapter of His Life at USC". NewspaperAlum. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  23. Weisblum, Vida (February 13, 2015). "On the Record: Tim Page, Acclaimed Music Critic and Visiting Scholar". Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  24. Page, Tim (August 20, 2007). "Parallel Play: A lifetime of restless isolation explained". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  25. "Living with Asperger's syndrome". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  26. "'Parallel Play: Growing Up With Undiagnosed Asperger's' by Tim Page". LA Times. 2009-09-06. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
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