Sad news that Edward Greenfield has died. He was senior music critic of The Guardian for many years, and a longstanding contributor to Gramophone magazine. Although ‘Ted’ was a professional critic, it always seemed to me that he was determined to accentuate the positive, which marked him out from many of his peers.
I had particular reason to be grateful to Ted Greenfield when my first book, Beyond the Notes, was published. The book had had a long and painful journey towards publication. In fact it took ten years. A few well-wishers had encouraged me to publish the manuscript, but none of us knew what a difficult climate it was for ‘niche subjects’, a phrase I grew to hate. The manuscript did the rounds of several publishers, often being kept for months before it was returned. At one point a leading publisher kept it for over a year before returning it to me with the explanation that they were dropping classical music books entirely from their list as sales were just too low.
I was told that my manuscript wasn’t long enough for a book, that classical music wasn’t interesting to enough people, that I wasn’t known as a writer, so nobody would buy it. I was told to add to it, but also recommended to prune it severely and publish it as a single article in a music magazine. One eminent literary agent told me it was more suited to private publication as a ‘family memoir’. It was only when one publisher commissioned a couple of reports, and those reports turned out to be glowing, that things started moving. Finally I was put in touch with the enterprising Boydell Press, who took a leap of faith and published it in 2004.
After so many setbacks, I felt painfully sensitive to the book’s reception, so when Ted Greenfield reviewed it for The Guardian I couldn’t have been more delighted and relieved. I inhaled his words. In fact, a decade later, I can still quote long passages from memory. Ted Greenfield and I didn’t know one another, so he had no reason to think that I needed a boost at that particular time, but he was the first major reviewer to give me a generous vote of confidence, and I shall never forget the good it did me.