234 x 156mm, 424pp
By: Richard Pine
“This isn’t the gentle anecdotal tale one might expect, chock-full of opening-night reminiscences and late-night recollections. Instead it’s a bit of an epic.” —The Irish Times
This is a biography of the music critic and commentator, chronicling his family’s history over 300 years at Kilmacurragh in County Wicklow (now a celebrated arboretum in the care of the State), and his work for the Irish Times over thirty years (1955-88).
There is a comprehensive view of his Irish background, his education in England at Rugby and Cambridge and his career in Dublin. Beginning with the rich source material of Acton family papers (a detailed tenant record of Kilmacurragh estate, for example) and correspondence (to his mother and others), the book goes on to elaborate in fascinating detail the cultural framework of his milieu in broadcasting for RTE and in music with the Royal Irish Academy of Music, of which he was governor and eventually vice-president.
He was one of only two critics outside Britain to gain entry to the Critics’ Circle. His was a unique voice that helped to shape Ireland’s musical culture.