Andrew Patner 1959-2015

Tue Feb 03, 2015 at 4:50 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Andrew Patner
Andrew Patner

Andrew Patner, a music critic and fixture on Chicago’s arts scene for three decades, died Tuesday morning of a bacterial infection at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“Our Andrew is no more,” said Tom Bachtell, Patner’s longtime partner.

Patner, 55, was hospitalized for pneumonia Sunday and his condition quickly worsened.

He was most widely known for his classical music reviews in the Chicago Sun-Times as well as his WFMT show, “Critical Thinking.” Patner also logged time at The Wall Street Journal and Chicago magazine.

“Andrew’s voice, keen intelligence and great spirit will be sorely missed at this radio station, which was part of his professional life for many years, ” said Steve Robinson, general manager of WFMT, in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tom and to Andrew’s family.”

“His breadth of knowledge was remarkable,” Robinson added late Tuesday. “He had a great love for all kinds of music—classical, jazz and the American Songbook.

“He was a good friend. We exchanged thousands of emails over the years, and he remembered all of them. It was a little scary.”

Details of a memorial service are pending.


In the rough and tumble world of Chicago journalism, Andrew Patner was liked and respected by many. Sometimes, especially in his early years, Andrew ruffled feathers and some in the business viewed his blend of relentless energy and ambition with suspicion.

On a personal level, Andrew was always a terrific colleague—cordial, supportive, professional and good-humored, always quick to send a kind note for what he thought was a particularly well-written or insightful review. In 2009 when I announced I was moving back to Chicago to start up Chicago Classical Review, he immediately sent an email saying that he looked forward to us being colleagues across the aisle again after many years.

A relentless blogger and Facebook habitué, Andrew was an author and intellectual who wore his erudition lightly, with a rumpled casual style. Reliably left of center politically, he enjoyed discourse with those who did not agree with him and always treated those with different viewpoints with unfailing respect and courtesy.

Omnivorous in his interests–classical music, jazz, art, poetry and literature–he was extraordinarily generous and open-hearted, quick to pay homage to those who passed and their achievements.

Now, departed at the age of 55, it’s time for his friends, colleagues and loved ones to do the same for him. And much too soon.

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