Virgil Thomson, by Virgil Thomson
It makes a delightful book for the most part, and at times a superb one, Virgil Thomson remembering Virgil Thomson and friends—also, at the beginning, some relatives, and now and again a non-friend—in Kansas City, at Harvard, in Paris, New York, and then Paris again.
To Thomson, Thomson is a distinguished and important composer, and there are works that support the claim strongly, notably the two operas with Gertrude Stein texts, and some instrumental pieces as well, like the Symphony on a Hymn Tune. Thomson writes with confidence in the merit of his music; for example: “Among my works composed after 1945, those which touch me most are the Cello Concerto . . .; the Flute Concerto . . .; the Missa Pro Defunctis . .. which exploits my skills in choral treatment and liturgical evocation; and The Feast of Love . .., my own translation from late Latin of the Pervigilium Veneris, sex poem of all time. My other works I know will make their way; these also perhaps. But they worry me because I love them.” Other composers have written of loving certain of their works, but who else has been touched by his own?
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