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Classical Composers A-Z: Virgil Thomson

Peter Wintersgill introduces us to the composer Virgil Thomson who was chief music critic of the New York Herald Tribune.

Born
25th November, 1896, in Kansas City.

Childhood
Precocious in musical ability.

Adult Life
Studied at Harvard and in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. Lived in Paris 1925-32, meeting Les Six, Cocteau, Satie and Gertrude Stein, worked with her on the opera Four Saints in Three Acts (1934).

Returned to New York for good in 1940. Became chief music critic of the Herald Tribune. Wrote film scores and incidental music for Shakespeare plays.

His orchestral works include two symphonies, a cello concerto (1949) and a concerto for flute, strings and percussion (1954).

Other works include his third opera Lord Byron (1972), a Requiem (1960), three string quartets, four piano sonatas and sundry songs, all rooted in American speech rhythms.

He died 30th September, 1989, in New York, aged 92.

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