Joyce Kennedy, deceased at the age of 88, was a music-loving anesthesiologist who presented herself as an assistant, researcher and typist for Michael Kennedy, the Daily Telegraph’s longtime music critic; in truth, she was much more than that, also producing full-fledged opera books.
The couple met in 1976 through their mutual love for music and cricket. Kennedy had been married since 1947 to Eslyn Durdle, who was soon diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “I told Eslyn. She has accepted [Joyce], and I just asked that I would continue to take care of her, ”Kennedy said. He did so for 23 years, marrying Joyce only after Eslyn’s death in 1999.
By this time, Joyce and Michael were a well-known couple in concert halls and opera houses around the world, their favorite haunts being Glyndebourne and Salzburg. He had previously written a history of the Hallé Orchestra and biographies of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Edward Elgar and John Barbirolli.
Now Joyce Kennedy has worked with Michael on the lives of Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten and William Walton, as well as a charming story of the Buxton Festival published in 2004.
Their magnum opus, on which Joyce co-edited, was The Oxford Dictionary of Music (1980), an authoritative reference work. Despite the serious title, it includes delicious snippets of humor such as the description of avant-garde scores as “often delightful pictorial though musically enigmatic”.