Selected Letters of Virgil Thomson: Selected Letters

Vanessa W. Page, Editor, Virgil Thomson, Author, Tim Page, Editor Summit Books $24.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-62117-9
There have been previous collections of the writings of the Grand Old Man of American music but none as various and personally revealing as this. All his life (he is now 91), Thomson has been a meticulous correspondent, unfailingly courteous, crisp and elegant; and it is a special pleasure to see these gifts employed on minutiae as well as on such major matters as working on a libretto with Gertrude Stein (two testy letters to a dilatory watch-repair company are models of their kind). But perhaps the heart of the volume is the letters Tomson returned to correspondents who took issue with him during his years on the New York Herald Tribune as probably the best, and certainly the most knowledgeable, music critic ever to write for an American newspaper. We see only Thomson's side of the correspondence, but his good sense and generosity of spirit, often in response to clearly irate muddleheadedness, is something to marvel at. The Pages have selected the letters, from what they describe as a staggering quantity, with great skill to show off Thomson in all his diversity, and the concise identifying notes are both necessary and unobtrusive. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
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