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Winner Pulitzer Prize and former L.A. Times music critic Martin Bernheimer dies at the age of 83

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Martin Bernheimer, the former music critic of the Los Angeles Times and a Pulitzer Prize winner, died Sunday morning after a long fight with sarcoma in his New York home. He was 83.

The news was confirmed by his wife, former Newsday theater critic Linda Winer.

"Covering music and dance for more than 30 years in The Times was invariably stimulating and provocative, sometimes challenging, sometimes tiring and often very rewarding," said Bernheimer when he retired in 1996. "I am grateful that I received this long play, but there is a time to stay and a time to leave. I think it's time for me to explore other roads and consider different career options. "

"Martin Bernheimer has contributed enormously to the critical community and the Los Angeles Times in the last three decades," said the then editor and Executive Vice President Shelby Coffey III of the newspaper in 1996. "He is a strong and distinctive voice for high standards in classical music and dance. His excellent work is greatly appreciated and we wish him all the best in his next chapter of his career. "

Bernheimer was internationally known for the strong opinions he expressed in his reviews, combined with a unique humor and personality that often aroused strong reactions from his readers, both positive and negative.

"I have a reputation for being tough," he told the Alumni Magazine from Brown University in 2012. “I'm not a patsy. I am not an extension of the PR department of the (opera house). "

Bernheimer was born on September 28, 1936 in Munich, Germany. He emigrated to the United States in 1940 and was protected in 1946 according to a biographical naturalization encyclopedia from Pulitzer prize winners.

He was 14 years old when he first tried to break into journalism. During a family trip back to Germany, Bernheimer submitted an article about the opera scene in Munich to the U.S. magazine Opera News. The publication accepted the piece just to delete it at the last minute. "I was just a smart guy," he told Brown & # 39; s magazine in 2012. "But I started writing these things."

His family moved to Massachusetts in 1941, where his parents took Bernheimer to operas once or twice a year. The first one he saw was & # 39; Carmen & # 39 ;, performed by the touring San Carlo Opera Company. "In retrospect, it was probably a pretty matt version," he told Brown's alumni magazine. "But I was struck by the fusion of drama and music."

After attending Brown, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in music, he attended the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich in 1958. Upon his return to the US, Bernheimer became both a student and a part-time teacher at New York University, eventually receiving a master's degree in music.

While studying at NYU, he began writing his career in music as a member of the staff of the New York Herald Tribune before leaving the New York Post as a temporary music critic in 1961. In that year he became editor for the Musical courier.

From 1962 to 1965 he was assistant to the music editor of the Saturday Review and editor-in-chief of the Philharmonic Hall Program Magazine. He joined The Times in 1965 at the age of 28 and served as music editor and chief critic of the newspaper.

"You don't have to be a musician to be a good critic," he told Brown's alumni magazine. "Just like you don't have to lay an egg to know you've got a rotten egg."

For three decades from Bernheimer with The Times, he received ASCAP & # 39; s Deems Taylor Award in 1974 and 1978 for outstanding service to music and journalism before receiving the Pulitzer for criticism in 1982.

He was a member of various music-related educational programs & # 39; s and a faculty member of the Rockefeller program for training music critics at USC in 1966. In 1969 he joined the music faculty of UCLA and in 1982 he became an honorary member of a chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honorary society. Bernheimer regularly taught and also criticized Cal State Northridge, San Diego State and California Institute of the Arts.

After leaving the newspaper, Bernheimer served as a correspondent in New York for the London-based Financial Times, with regard to opera, classical music and dance. He was also a member of the board of the Opera magazine.

"I am a fossil – a legacy to an almost extinct age," he told Brown & # 39; s magazine. "But I keep going until they stop paying me or until I fall dead."

Bernheimer is survived by his wife, Linda and four children: Mark Bernheimer, Nora Caruso, Marina Bernheimer and Erika Bernheimer. He is also survived by his former wife, Cindy Bernheimer.

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