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Virgil Thomson
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Composer
    (November 25, 1896-September 30, 1989)
    Born in Kansas City, Missouri
    Classical composer/critic
    Wrote the operas 'Four Saints in Three Acts' (1928), 'The Mother of Us All' (1947) and 'Lord Byron' (1972)
    Composed scores for the films 'The Plow That Broke the Plains' (1936), 'The River' (1938), 'Louisiana Story' (1948), 'The Goddess' (1958) and 'Journey to America' (1964)
    Won the Pulitzer Prize for music for 'Louisiana Story'
    Music critic for the New York Herald-Tribune (1940-54)
    Wrote 'The State of Music' (1939), 'American Music Since 1910' (1971) and 'Music with Words: A Composer's View' (1989)
    Despite the title, 'Four Saints in Three Acts' features 20 saints as singing roles and is usually staged in four acts.
    He described his criticism as 'sassy but classy.'
    He trashed most of the classical music idols of the day, including Arturo Toscanini, Vladimir Horowitz and Jascha Heifetz.
    He called George Gershwin's 'Porgy and Bess' 'fake folklore.'
    He was a paid organist at age 12.
    The librettos for 'Four Saints' and 'The Mother of Us All' were written by Gertrude Stein.
    He was a mentor to Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.
    He received the French Legion of Honor (1947), the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism (1981) and the National Medal of the Arts (1988).

Credit: C. Fishel


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