Cover image for Virgil Thomson : a reader : selected writings 1924-1984
Virgil Thomson : a reader : selected writings 1924-1984
Thomson, Virgil, 1896-1989.
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Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, [2002]

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xii, 290 pages ; 24 cm
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ML410.T66 A6 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This essential reader includes Thomson's essays on making a living as a musician; his articles on classic composers; his relation to his contemporaries; his articles on newcomers in the music world, including John Cage and Pierre Boulez; his autobiographical writings and commentary on his own works.

Author Notes

Richard Kostelanetz has edited over forty collections of essays on American culture, ranging in subject matter from avant-garde fiction to collections of critical writings on John Cage and Frank Zappa. He is also a published critic, writer, and artist.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Beethoven's Overture to Egmont is a classic hors d'oeuvre. Nobody's digestion was ever spoiled by it, and no late comer has ever lost much by missing it." Thus waxed composer and music critic Virgil Thomson (1896-1989) about a 1940 season-opener of the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York, and there's more where that came from: Virgil Thomson: A Reader Selected Writings, 1924-1984 gathers the best of the writer's brilliantly acerbic criticism. The volume, edited by Richard Kostelanetz (Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes), includes Thomson's musings on such subjects as "Mozart's Leftism," his relationship with contemporaries such as Kurt Weill and Aaron Copland, the staging of opera, and the careers of everyone from John Cage to Gertrude Stein. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Introductionp. 1
(Auto)biography (1971)p. 9
I The Life of Music
Life Among the Natives (1939)p. 13
How Composers Eat (1939)p. 19
Why Composers Write How (1939; revised 1962)p. 22
Age Without Honor (1940)p. 47
Masterpieces (1944)p. 48
Conducting Modern Music (1942)p. 50
The Intellectual Audience (1950)p. 53
Conservative Institution (1947)p. 56
English at the Met (1947)p. 58
Bigger than Baseball (1953)p. 60
The Burning Question (1966)p. 64
On Writing Operas and Staging Them (1982)p. 69
Music Does Not Flow (1981)p. 82
The New Grove... (1981)p. 93
II Precursors
Mozart's Leftism (1940)p. 101
The Official Stravinsky (1936)p. 104
Acquaintance with Wagner (1943)p. 105
Fairy Tale About Music (1945)p. 107
French Music Here [Erik Satie] (1941)p. 108
[Edward] MacDowell's Music (1944)p. 110
[Carl] Ruggles (1971)p. 111
Reactionary Critic (1951)p. 117
III Contemporaries--Performers
Great Music [Artur Rubinstein] (1940)p. 123
Pipe-Organ Obsession [Leopold Stokowski] (1940)p. 124
Master of Distortion and Exaggeration [Vladimir Horowitz] (1942)p. 125
Silk-Underwear Music [Jascha Heifitz] (1940)p. 127
The Toscanini Case (1942)p. 128
Violence and Charm [Rudolf Firkusny] (1944)p. 131
The Koussevitzky Case (1947)p. 132
In Spite of Conducting [Dimitri Mitropoulos] (1953)p. 135
Jazz (1924)p. 136
Swing Music (1936)p. 139
Sacred Swing [Gospel Music] (1941)p. 142
"La Mome" Piaf (1947)p. 144
IV Contemporaries--Composers
George Gershwin (1935)p. 149
[Charlie] Chaplin Scores (1940)p. 153
Star Dust and Spun Steel [Anton Webern] (1950)p. 154
Most Melodious Tears [Kurt Weill] (1933)p. 155
Olivier Messiaen (1945)p. 158
Music Now (1961)p. 161
Edgard Varese, 1883-1965 (1966)p. 166
Henry Cowell: By Weight and By Volume (n.d.)p. 167
Aaron Copland (1932, 1949, 1957, 1971)p. 167
Notes on Composers (1971)p. 181
V Contemporaries--Publishers, Artists, Writers, and a Museum Director
The Paper [New York Herald Tribune] (1966)p. 187
A War's End [Modern Music] (1947)p. 197
Eugene Berman, 1899-1972 (1974)p. 198
Leonid Berman, 1896-1976 (1978)p. 200
Gertrude Stein (1953, 1982, 1989)p. 201
On, Donald Sutherland (1978)p. 213
Edwin Denby (1984)p. 214
The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music [Everett "Chick" Austin] (1958)p. 217
VI Successors
Expressive Percussion [John Cage] (1945)p. 223
Gian-Carlo Menotti (1947, 1950)p. 224
The Genius Type [Pierre Boulez] (1968)p. 226
A Note Regarding Lou Harrison (n.d.)p. 235
Notes on Composers (1971)p. 236
VII Autobiography
Personal Statement (c. 1981)p. 243
The Music Reviewer and His Assignment (1953)p. 243
Europe in America (1966)p. 250
All Roads Lead to Paris (1966)p. 257
Possibilities: V.T. Questioned by 8 Composers (1947)p. 266
VIII His Own Works
On Portraits and Operas (n.d.)p. 273
Four Saints in Three Acts (n.d.)p. 275
Sea Piece with Brids (1952)p. 277
The Seine at Night (1948)p. 278
The Feast of Love (1964)p. 278
Bibliography--Works by Virgil Thomsonp. 281
Index of Proper Namesp. 283