The Associated Press
NEW YORK (Friday, December 28, 2001 11:20 a.m. EST) - Edward Downes,
a musicologist, professor and critic best known as host of the "Texaco
Opera Quiz" heard during live Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts, died
Wednesday at home at the age of 90.
The opera quiz featured experts answering questions from listeners
during intermission, from 1958-96. Known for his wit and mellow
baritone voice, Downes put panelists at ease and offered teasing hints
to the answers when experts were stumped.
Born in the Boston suburb of West Roxbury, Downes began attending
operas at a young age with his father, Olin Downes, a critic at The
Boston Post who later became chief music critic at The New York Times.
After his father's death in 1955, Edward Downes became a music critic
at the Times, staying for two years until taking the opera quiz job.
Downes, who never completed an undergraduate degree, earned a
Ph.D. in musicology from Harvard University at age 47. He later taught
at Wellesley College, the Longy School of Music, the University of
Minnesota and Queens College. He also wrote program notes for the
New York Philharmonic.
He served in the Army during World War II, at one point helping Arthur
M. Schlesinger Jr. prepare briefing books for the Office of Strategic
Services, precursor of the CIA.
An extensive memorial to Downes is being planned for broadcast on
what is now called the "ChevronTexaco Opera Quiz," producer Michael
Bronson said. A brief tribute will be read during Saturday's broadcast of
Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel," the first opera Downes saw as a child.
Downes is survived by a sister and four nieces and nephews.
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To read Bruce Duffie's 1986 interview with Edward Downes, click