Edward Joseph Dent

Edward Joseph Dent, generally known as Edward J. Dent (16 July 1876 – 22 August 1957), was Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge between 1926 and 1941 and a leading British critic and writer on music.[1]


Dent was born in Ribston, Yorkshire, the son of the landowner and politician John Dent. He was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge,[2] where he sat the Classical Tripos in 1898. He was elected a Fellow of the college in March 1902 having distinguished himself in music both as researcher and a composer.[3]

Dent was Professor of Music at Cambridge University from 1926 to 1941. He was President of the I.S.C.M. from its foundation in 1922 until 1938 and was President of the International Music Society between 1931 and 1949.[4] He was a governor of Sadler's Wells Opera, and translated many libretti for it. He wrote influential books on Alessandro Scarlatti, Ferruccio Busoni, Handel, English operas and the operas of Mozart.

He was a Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded honorary degrees from Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard Universities. After World War I, Dent sought to bring together the artistic communities of the two countries. After his death the Royal Musical Association instituted the Dent Medal for work in musicology.[5] He died in London, aged 81.

The music writer and critic Arthur Jacobs commended Dent's opera translations, which "at their best, whether in colloquial or lofty style (The Barber of Seville, The Trojans), reduce me to despair at nearly all later translators' efforts, including my own". Dent "saw opera as a people's possession. Totally pro-opera-in-English, totally pro-theatrical, anti-snob and indifferent to stars, he wrote: 'The more I frequent opera, the more keenly I am interested in the work itself and its presentation as a whole, and the more indifferent I am to its individual parts'."[6]

Selected publicationsEdit


  1. ^ "Fields of study: Edward Dent, musicologist". www.kings.cam.ac.uk.
  2. ^ "Dent, Edward Joseph (DNT895EJ)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ "University intelligence". The Times (36717). London. 17 March 1902. p. 11.
  4. ^ Fauser, AnneGret. 'The Scholar behind the Medal: Edward J. Dent (1876-1957) and the Politics of Music History', in Journal of the Royal Musical Association Vol. 139, No. 2 (2014), pp. 235-260
  5. ^ "The Papers of Edward Joseph Dent". Archives Hub (archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk).
  6. ^ Arthur Jacobs. A critic's half-century. Opera, Vol.48 No.2, July 1996, p7770-775.


External linksEdit