Terry Teachout is the drama critic of The Wall Street Journal, the chief culture critic of Commentary, and the author of “Sightings,” a biweekly column for the Saturday Journal about the arts in America. He also writes about the arts for National Review and other magazines, as well as on his blog, “About Last Night” (www.terryteachout.com). His most recent books are Pops: The Life of Louis Armstrong (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and A Terry Teachout Reader (Yale University Press). He wrote the libretto for Paul Moravec’s The Letter, an opera based on Somerset Maugham’s play that was premiered by the Santa Fe Opera in 2009. He was appointed to the National Council on the Arts by President Bush in 2004.
Teachout is the author of The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken (2002) and City Limits: Memories of a Small-Town Boy (1991) and the editor of Beyond the Boom: New Voices on American Life, Culture, and Politics (1990, introduction by Tom Wolfe) and Ghosts on the Roof: Selected Journalism of Whittaker Chambers, 1931-1959 (1989). In 1992, he rediscovered the manuscript of A Second Mencken Chrestomathy among H.L. Mencken’s private papers and edited it for publication by Knopf. He wrote the introductions to William Bailey on Canvas, Elaine Dundy’s The Dud Avocado, and Paul Taylor’s Private Domain and contributed to The Oxford Companion to Jazz and Robert Gottlieb’s Reading Dance, and has written liner notes for albums by Karrin Allyson, Gene Bertoncini, Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins, Chanticleer, Julia Dollison, Jim Ferguson, Roger Kellaway, Diana Krall, the Lascivious Biddies, the Joe Mooney Quartet, Marian McPartland, Maria Schneider, Nickel Creek, Kendra Shank, Luciana Souza, and the Trio Solisti.
Teachout is currently at work on Danse Russe, the libretto for a new opera by Paul Moravec that will be premiered in 2011 by Philadelphia’s Center City Opera Theater; Black Beauty: A Life of Duke Ellington, a biography that will be published in 2014 by Gotham Books; and Satchmo at the Waldorf, a one-man play about the life of Louis Armstrong.Born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 1956, Teachout lived in Kansas City from 1975 to 1983, working as a jazz bassist and as a music critic for the Kansas City Star. Since then he has been an editor of Harper’s, an editorial writer for the New York Daily News, the News’ classical music and dance critic, and the classical music and dance critic of Time. The oldest son of Evelyn Teachout of Sikeston, Missouri, he lives with his wife Hilary in New York City and Connecticut.