ELWELL, HERBERT (10 May 1898-17 Apr. 1974), composer and PLAIN DEALER music critic, was born in Minneapolis to George and Belle (Horn) Elwell. He studied 2 years in New York with ERNEST BLOCH, and went to Paris in 1921, joining Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson and studying under Nadia Boulanger. In 1923, with a fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, he conducted the premiere of his ballet suite The Happy Hypocrite. Elwell came to Cleveland in 1928 to head the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC's composition and advanced theory department, and was also assistant director during his 17 years there. He also taught at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, and directed the composition department of the CLEVELAND MUSIC SCHOOL SETTLEMENT. From 1930-36, he was program annotator for the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA.
As music critic for the Plain Dealer from 1932-64, he held even the most popular artists to exacting standards, observing of Geo. Gershwin that "as a pianist he is a good composer." He was not beyond breaking into the middle of a concert with a "Bravo!" for an unexpectedly harmonic chord. His Sunday writings fulfilled the educational function of criticism. Nothing else Elwell wrote as a composer equaled the success of The Happy Hypocrite, which was programmed by GEO. SZELL on the Cleveland Orchestra's 1965 European tour. His Lincoln Requiem Aeternam for chorus and orchestra received the Paderewski Prize and a nationwide radio presentation in 1947. He resided in CLEVELAND HTS. with his wife, Maria, whom he married on 27 July 1927. They had no children. Elwell was buried in CALVARY CEMETERY.