Mr. Robin Legge
Music Critic for 40 Years
Mr. Robin Humphrey Legge, who died yesterday in a nursing home after a brief illness at the age of 70, was probably the most widely known musical journalist in London. He was a man who rejoiced in knowing people and in being known to them, and while his work brought him into touch with all sorts and conditions of musical people, he liked to feel that his friendships were not confined to those circles. The Savile and the Arts clubs represented his milieu more accurately than his professional activities.
Like many others, he entered journalism rather by chance than design. Born on June 28, 1862, he read law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and then went to Germany to study music at Leipzig, Frankfurt-am-Main, and elsewhere. He joined the staff of The Times as an assistant music critic in 1891, and for 15 years worked effectively in that capacity while contributing more occasionally to many other papers in London, and sometimes on other subjects than music. He edited the "Norfolk Cricket Annual" for 10 years, published over 100 chess problems, played billiards, and dabbled in verse about the golf course. His sympathy was readily given to everything new in the art with which he was chiefly concerned, and he was ready to champion each example of the new music as it came along.
In 1906 the retirement of Joseph Bennett from the post of music critic of the Daily Telegraph gave Legge a platform of his own, and he made a vigorous use of it. Bennett himself was the last survivor of the type of critic who referred every new work to a preconceived standard which might or might not have any application to the case under consideration. Legge swung to the opposite extreme, accepting not only the diverse aims of the composers and artists before him, but sometimes too readily their own estimates of their accomplishments. He made his office the rendezvous of musicians, and the music columns of his paper declared their projects and advocated their causes. His own wide experience of music abroad and a fund of strong commons sense in himself saved him from many of the more obvious pitfalls of this policy. He distinguished between great and small, and did not often back a "loser". But he necessarily sacrificed something of his authority as a critic in becoming an advocate.
In later years when his health was precarious he wrote comparatively little actual criticism himself, but the weekly preparation of the music page was his own special concern, and until his retirement in 1931 he maintained the reputation he had made for it as a forum in which the interests of musicians could be appreciatively discussed. He was essentially a clubable man, and whether in the billiard room at the Savile, in the office of his newspaper, or in the foyer at Covent Garden, ne was always to be found surrounded by men of like interests with himself and diffusing an atmosphere of geniality into the occupation of the moment.Legge contributed many biographies to the Dictionary of National Biography and "Grove," translated Wallaschek's "Die Musik der Naturvölker," Hofmann's "Instrumentationslehre," and other works, and wrote the annals of the Norfolk and Norwich Festivals. His widow survives him with one daughter.