Terry Teachout died yesterday at the age of 65. When he was awarded one of the Bradley Prizes in 2014, I was ecstatic. I deemed him the great Terry Teachout. I cited his work for the Wall Street Journal (drama critic) and Commentary (critic-at-large) as well as his own site, About Last Night. The Journal pays tribute to him here and Commentary here. I’m sorry that both of these tributes are behind paywalls.
Teachout was a critic who didn’t just criticize. He also wrote biographies, libretti, and plays including Satchmo at the Waldorf, which I saw in New York with my family and raved about on Power Line in “A tour de megaforce.” He tweeted out a message saying he was glad we had enjoyed it. He was that kind of guy.
Terry was my favorite working critic, period. Readers of his Journal reviews or Commentary essays quickly learned that his natural mode was that of appreciation and praise. He was one critic who did not need, or had already taken to heart, Auden’s lesson for the free man “in the prison of his days.” He helped readers get more out of the work under consideration than they otherwise would have. He was a great critic. On the rare occasions when he felt called upon to administer justice to overpraised junk, he rose to the occasion. His death represents a loss to our country and our culture. RIP.