For the Canadian boxer, see Sam Langford.
Samuel Langford (1863 - 8 May 1927) was an influential English music critic of the early twentieth century.
Trained as a pianist, Langford became chief music critic of The Manchester Guardian in 1906, serving in that post until his death. As chief critic, he succeeded Ernest Newman and preceded Neville Cardus.
Langford was born to an old South Manchester family in the suburb of Withington, where his father was a market gardener. By the age of twenty Langford was an accomplished pianist and church organist, and was sent to study in Leipzig with Carl Reinecke. Recognising that his short hands were unsuited to virtuoso pianism, Langford returned to Manchester, where he was engaged by The Manchester Guardian as deputy to Ernest Newman, whom he succeeded as chief music critic in 1906.
The rest of Langford's career was spent in this post, based in Manchester, although he sometimes travelled to London to hear a new work in which he was interested, and he never missed the big music festivals. Manchester was, in the early years of the twentieth century, an important musical city, with Hans Richter and the Hallé Orchestra at its centre. Neville Cardus said of him:
- Langford reigned supreme in the music of the North of England.... Everybody knew him; Richter himself was not a more familiar and symbolical figure in Manchester.... Langford was a great man and a writer on music without parallel.
Langford, like his editor C. P. Scott, encouraged the young Cardus, who succeeded him as chief music critic. One of Cardus's first acts in his new post was to edit a collection of his predecessor's writings, published in 1929.
Langford married Leslie Doig in 1913. There was one daughter of the marriage, Brenda, born in 1918, later, as Brenda Milner, professor of neuropsychology at the Montreal Neurological Institute. Langford died after a serious illness at the family home in Withington, England, aged 65.
- Brookes, Christopher (1985): His Own Man: The Life of Neville Cardus, Methuen, London ISBN 0-413-50940-0
- Cardus, Neville (ed) (1929): Samuel Langford: Music Criticisms, Oxford University Press.