Samuel Langford

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For the Canadian boxer, see Sam Langford.

Langford in about 1910

Samuel "Sammy" 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.


Early years[edit]

Langford was born to an old Lancashire family in the township of Withington,[1] where his father was a market gardener.[2] By the age of twenty Langford was an accomplished pianist and church organist, and was sent to study in Leipzig with Carl Reinecke.[2] 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.[3]

Manchester Guardian[edit]

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.[2][4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

Langford had a dislike of the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and if could avoid reviewing them he did so. C. A. Lejeune who later became a film critic wrote of him: "He was a musical perfectionist and great local character. His hobby was the cultivation of delphiniums ... His Lancashire accent was as rich as a fine, fruity Eccles cake. His formal clothes were very dark, and his aggressive beard was very white."[7]

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.[2]


  1. ^ During his lifetime Withington Urban District became part of the city of Manchester.
  2. ^ a b c d The Manchester Guardian, May 1927, p. 9
  3. ^ Brookes, p. 111
  4. ^ Brookes, p. 40
  5. ^ Cardus, Neville. (1947 reissued 1984) Autobiography, pp. 207 and 212, Hamish Hamilton, London ISBN 0-241-11286-9
  6. ^ Brookes, pp. 115 and 267
  7. ^ Lejeune, C. A. (1964) Thank You for Having Me. London: Hutchinson; p. 64


  • Brookes, Christopher (1985): His Own Man: The Life of Neville Cardus, London: Methuen ISBN 0-413-50940-0
  • Cardus, Neville (ed.) (1929): Samuel Langford: Music Criticisms, London: Oxford University Press.