Virgil Thomson, who wrote memorable music and wrote about music memorably, was an insightful artist whose opinions on art remain fresh more than 30 years after his death.
The other day a book arrived in my mailbox that I was really looking forward to receiving. It was the Library of America’s edition of the music writing of a critic and composer named Virgil Thomson, an artist who ought to have greater name recognition among the American public.
Thomson was born in Kansas City, Missouri the year William McKinley beat William Jennings Bryan the first time. He studied piano from an early age and after high school went off to Harvard where he studied music, specifically the piano works of Erik Satie. He also sang with the Harvard Glee Club which took him to Europe for the first time. He loved it and after graduation moved to Paris where he lived from 1925 until 1940. There he fell in with an impressive crowd of artists including