Claudia Cassidy

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Claudia Cassidy (1899–1996), born in Shawneetown, Illinois, was a music, dance, and drama critic in Chicago.

She was so well known for giving caustic reviews to what she considered bad performances that she earned the nickname "Acidy Cassidy." Her judgment, which was regarded as extremely controversial even in her heyday, has been seriously debated for years by critics. Cassidy was unfailingly critical of the great Czech conductor Rafael Kubelík, described Janáček's orchestral work Taras Bulba as "trash" and even called Bartók's classic Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta a "potboiler". She also prevented Georg Solti from being hired by the Chicago Lyric Opera. Nevertheless, some people have praised her as a great influence on the arts.

Cassidy's family moved to Champaign, Illinois when she was 12, and she graduated from the University of Illinois there in 1921. After first accepting a writing position with the Chicago Journal of Commerce, she was hired by the Chicago Tribune and wrote there from 1942-65.

In retirement, she continued to write for the Tribune, also contributing to Chicago Magazine and made radio programs for WFMT.

Cassidy died in Chicago at age 96 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. In her July 22, 1996 obituary in the Chicago Tribune, writer Richard Christiansen described Cassidy and her long-running "On the Aisle" column as "feared and revered, hated and adored."

Named in her honor, the Claudia Cassidy Theater of the Chicago Cultural Center is at 77 North Randolph in the city.


  • Cassidy, Claudia, Europe on the Aisle, New York: Random House, 1954
  • Cassidy, Claudia, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago IL: Lyric Opera of Chicago, 1979 ISBN 0-9603538-0-1


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