Synopses & Reviews
From 1928 until his death in 1989, Virgil Thomson, Dean of American Composers, distinguished critic and author, composed musical portraits of people. Though he was not the first composer to do so, the seriousness of his working methods and the quantity of his output (140 in all) make Thomson's practice of musical portraiture unique. Anthony Tommasini's book is based on his extensive interviews with Virgil Thomson, his examination of Thomson's manuscripts and documents, and his correspondences with over sixty subjects of Thomson portraits (the "still-available sitters," as Thomson called them). Earlier examples of musical portraits are examined, as well as the literary portraits of Gertrude Stein, works which inspired Thomson to experiment with portraiture in music.