Jim Svejda (born 1947) is American music commentator and critic on the FM radio station KUSC. He is the host of the weekly syndicated classical music program The Record Shelf, which is distributed by Public Radio International, and a local nightly classical program, Classical Music with Jim Svejda, as well as the host of the now-cancelled The Opera Box.
The Record Shelf has been running since 1983, and regularly features items such as interviews with classical music notables, surveys of different recordings of a classical music piece, monthly critical surveys of recently released recordings, and noted, often rare historical recordings of great performers of the past. Svejda has been praised for his articulate commentaries on these programs. He opens his nightly classical program with the third movement from Piano Quartet No. 1 by Bohuslav Martinů.
However, Svejda is considered by many to be quite frank and subjective in his opinions. In his published Record Shelf Guide, Svejda himself describes the book as "an irreverent, selective and highly opinionated recordings guide of the best classical CDs and audiocassettes." He often has viewpoints that might be considered divergent from those of many other music critics.
While admitting that they sometimes have turned out excellent recordings, Svejda has been critical of such illustrious musicians as Vladimir Horowitz and Arturo Toscanini, as well as Herbert von Karajan (whom he has excoriated for his alleged Nazi past) and especially Nikolaus Harnoncourt, whom Svejda has called an "incompetent bozo." He tends to favor conductors and musicians that do not follow a printed musical score literally, and in his guide book, The Record Shelf Guide to the Classical Repertoire, often will recommend a controversial recording of a piece (such as Sir Thomas Beecham's 1959 recording of Handel's Messiah), alongside a more traditional one.
Svejda is also an occasional film critic, with his reviews syndicated on the CBS Radio Network.
- Jim Svejda. The Record Shelf Guide to the Classical Repertoire, 2nd Edition (Paperback) (1990) ISBN 1-55958-051-8
- Biography on kusc.org
- The Record Shelf