(b Manchester, 14 June 1922; d Oxford, 18 Dec 1996). English writer on music. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and Oxford. His first appointment as music critic was with the Daily Express (1947–52); after that he wrote, mainly as a freelance critic, for many newspapers and journals including the Sunday Times, the Financial Times, the Musical Times (where he served briefly as editor) and especially Opera, of which he was deputy editor (1961–71); he also contributed articles to journals and symposia. In 1964 he was appointed professor at the Royal Academy of Music, and taught, as guest professor, in the USA, Canada and Australia. In 1979 he was appointed head of the music department at Huddersfield Polytechnic; he retired, as professor, in 1984.
Jacobs’s wide interests are reflected in the variousness of his publications. Opera is prominent among them: he was much concerned with new forms of music-theatre, and a strong advocate of the performance of opera in English. He translated many operas, from French, German, Italian and Russian, including works by Handel, Rossini, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Schoenberg, mostly in a brisk, fluent style; he also wrote an original libretto for Maw’s One-Man Show (1960). His critical writing is clear and forthright; he had a passion for accuracy and was quick to note careless and sloppy thinking. In his last years he was able to pursue research on the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, producing two valuable volumes that perceptively examine the achievement of two central figures, Sullivan and Wood, in a broad social context.