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Virgil Thomson

Virgil ThomsonAKA Virgil Garnett Thomson

Born: 25-Nov-1896
Birthplace: Kansas City, MO
Died: 30-Sep-1989
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Rehoboth Cemetery, Slater, MO

Gender: Male
Religion: Baptist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Gay [1]
Occupation: Composer, Critic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Four Saints in Three Acts

Military service: US Army (enlisted 1917, Military Aviation Corps)


[1] "Female friends were very important to Thomson. They were his cover for his homosexuality. A major purpose of Tommasini's biography is to place a homosexual composer before the public. Thomson himself didn't do that for the obvious reason that he lived in an intolerant era. He was, in essence, petrified that he might be unmasked, as almost happened in 1942. Police raided a gay bordello in Brooklyn. Thomson was there. He was arrested but not charged. For months he lived in fear, especially when Walter Winchell wrote: 'That musician mentioned in the Brooklyn house will embarrass his employers. He's got many gunning for him, and this will give them a very loud haw-haw.' The power of the Herald Tribune saved him." Charles Ward, The San Francisco Chronicle, 16-Jul-1997, review of Virgil Thomson: Composer on the Aisle by Anthony Tommasini.

Father: Quincy Alfred Thomson (post office employee)
Mother: Clara May Gaines
Sister: Ruby (b. 1885)

    High School: Central High School, Kansas City, MO
    University: Kansas City Polytechnic and Junior College
    University: BA, Harvard University (1923)
    University: David Mannes School of Music, New York City

    The New York Herald Tribune Music Critic (1940-54)
    Pulitzer Prize for Music 1949 for Louisiana Story (film score)
    Kennedy Center Honor 1983
    National Medal of Arts 1988

Author of books:
The State of Music (1939)
The Musical Scene (1945)
The Art of Judging Music (1948)
Virgil Thomson (1966, memoir)
Music Revisited, 194054 (1967)
American Music Since 1910 (1971)


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