Author Topic: Thomson Territory  (Read 2624 times)

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Ken B

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Thomson Territory
« on: July 02, 2014, 09:00:47 PM »
Remarkably enough there is no thread for Virgil Thomson. Now there is.

Ken B

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2014, 09:49:26 PM »
The Feast of Love.

You can hear the Satie influence strongly here in the textures.  Reminds me a bit of Frank Martin too.

This is the chamber symphony version, fascinating orchestration.
Words from 4th century Latin verse, translated by VT.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KjKDjX-6jwM

The version with just piano is great too.

Ken B

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2014, 03:40:00 PM »
Thomson's film scores have been recorded numerous times. Here is the most famous of those recordings, Stowkie's performance of the suite from The Plow That Broke the Plains. 15 minutes.

Ken B

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2014, 06:15:10 PM »

Ken B

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2014, 08:06:38 PM »
One of Thomson's most chromatic and even dissonant pieces, the eerie Three Pictures for Orchestra, an old mono recording made just after the piece was written. VT conducts.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aaJGi9FMECc

Ken B

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2014, 07:56:15 PM »
Stabat Mater, for soprano and string quartet.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=75Fn9SLZS6g

And Eight Portraits for solo violin, rather a different idiom from his film scores, but I don't find these particularly memorable.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PLE2525C886BD01EBC&v=f2JikRCdxvM

« Last Edit: July 21, 2014, 07:58:39 PM by Ken B »

Offline torut

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2014, 03:34:30 PM »
I didn't know any of his music. Thank you for your posts, Ken B. Feast of Love is really nice. I purchased Chamber Works album (SQs, Feast of Love (with piano), Stabat Mater, Sonata da Chiesa). The string quartets are very tuneful and pleasant to listen to.



In Partch thread, it was mentioned that Thomson gave Partch's book, Genesis of a Music, to Lou Harrison. I am curious how Thomson thought of Partch or microtonal music in general. Harrison told in an interview (http://www.dbdoty.com/Words/LHInterview_01.html): "When Virgil [Thomson] first got a copy of Harry Partch's book [Genesis of a Music], he gave it to me, and said, "See what you can make of this." That was my conversion, so to speak. From there on, I’ve consistently worked in tuning as a part of my real life."

This is a short blog article by Kyle Gann about Thomson, introducing a book Composers' Voices from Ives to Ellington: An Oral History of American Music in which Thomson talked about writings, serialism, etc.
Virgil Thomson in His Own Precise Words and Notes
http://www.artsjournal.com/postclassic/2005/09/virgil_thomson_in_his_own_prec.html

The book mentioned seems interesting.


Table of contents: http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/excerpts/perlis_ives.pdf

Ken B

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2014, 05:04:28 PM »
I didn't know any of his music. Thank you for your posts, Ken B. Feast of Love is really nice. I purchased Chamber Works album (SQs, Feast of Love (with piano), Stabat Mater, Sonata da Chiesa). The string quartets are very tuneful and pleasant to listen to.



In Partch thread, it was mentioned that Thomson gave Partch's book, Genesis of a Music, to Lou Harrison. I am curious how Thomson thought of Partch or microtonal music in general. Harrison told in an interview (http://www.dbdoty.com/Words/LHInterview_01.html): "When Virgil [Thomson] first got a copy of Harry Partch's book [Genesis of a Music], he gave it to me, and said, "See what you can make of this." That was my conversion, so to speak. From there on, I’ve consistently worked in tuning as a part of my real life."

This is a short blog article by Kyle Gann about Thomson, introducing a book Composers' Voices from Ives to Ellington: An Oral History of American Music in which Thomson talked about writings, serialism, etc.
Virgil Thomson in His Own Precise Words and Notes
http://www.artsjournal.com/postclassic/2005/09/virgil_thomson_in_his_own_prec.html

The book mentioned seems interesting.


Table of contents: http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/excerpts/perlis_ives.pdf

I have not read much by VT, I plan to soon, but I think he was something of a mentor to Harrison, as he was to many composers (Ned Rorem in particular). I believe he was favourable to Partch and he was certainly a strong influence on Cage, though they later quarelled (VT did not take criticism well, and while Cage praised his music he did not praise all of it.) 

Glad you like the music! Four Saints has been over 35 years one of my favorite pieces, and I am sure The Feast of Love will be in the future.

Ken B

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2014, 05:30:58 PM »
One of VT's more widely performed pieces, A Solemn Music here in a wind band version, played by a university wind ensemble.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZP4ituOlSko

The best recording is by BMOP, Gil Rose. On Spotify.  But I also like recordings where amateur groups play their hearts out, especially in lesser known repertoire.

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2014, 05:33:15 PM »
Tonight's listening...this thread.  8)

Ken B

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2014, 09:16:38 PM »
An interesting blog post featuring VT.

http://cshere.blogspot.com/2011/08/virgil-thomson-on-audience-sensitivity.html

Lou Harrison makes an appearance too.

Ken B

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2014, 07:30:30 PM »
NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I missed it. I even looked online last fall. I look several times a year to see if there is a performance I can get to.

http://www.bmop.org/season-tickets/four-saints-three-acts


 :'(

Offline torut

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2014, 05:17:17 PM »
Listening to the BMOP album. Not only the music itself but also the orchestra and the singers are excellent. I much prefer this version of The Feast of Love to the piano accompaniment version in the chamber music album.

I have not read much by VT, I plan to soon, but I think he was something of a mentor to Harrison, as he was to many composers (Ned Rorem in particular). I believe he was favourable to Partch and he was certainly a strong influence on Cage, though they later quarelled (VT did not take criticism well, and while Cage praised his music he did not praise all of it.)

I was surprised that Cage wrote a book about Thomson. According to Cage (John Cage pour les oiseaux), Thomson didn't like the biographical parts and wanted to edit it by himself. Eventually, they let the third person, Kathleen Hoover, edit the book. However, Cage believed that Thomson himself also did the editing (expurgation), and he became uncomfortable about it. I am very interested in the book (OOP), if Cage's opinion on Thomson somehow remains.

The view of Thomson's side: http://www.virgilthomson.org/vignettes3.html
John Cage, in 1950, wrote a book-length study of Thomson's music at Thomson's request but made the cardinal error of doubting that his music had relevance for the coming generation (the 1960s). Cage admired most of Thomson's work but not enough to satisfy Mr. Thomson who retaliated years later in the New York Review article mentioned above. From then on there was a polite abyss between them, although Cage always acknowledged his debt to Thomson.


Offline Scion7

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Re: Thomson Territory
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2021, 02:42:43 AM »
Has anyone heard this?
Looking at the 'official site' it appears the performance history last shows a 1967 performance by the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Fantasy in Homage to an Earlier England (1966)

I.   Fanfare for a Victory at Sea
II.  The Unfaithful: His Complaint
III. Royal Hunt of the Faerie Queen
IV. The Court's Pavane

- does not appear to have been released on record - drat.
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal