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Virgil Thomson
(November 11, 1896 - September 30, 1989) U.S.A.

Virgil Thomson

Composer, conductor and music critic


Born in Kansas City, Missouri, he studied at Harvard. A student of Nadia Boulanger, he has produced a large body of work, characterized by its clarity and simplicity of style, which includes operas such as Four Saints in Three Acts (1934, libretto Gertrude Stein) based on the life of pioneering lesbian American suffragist Susan B. Anthony, orchestral, choral and chamber music, and film scores. Thomson received Kennedy Center Honors in 1983.

Although he engaged in numerous gay relationships during his long relationship with painter Maurice Grosser, Thomson confessed, "I didn't want to be queer", and never came out publicly. Among his most significant companions were Leland Poole, Briggs Buchanan and painter Roger Baker.



  • Four Saints in Three Acts
  • The Mother of Us All
  • The Musical Scene (1945)
  • The Art of Judging Music (1948)
  • Music Right and Left (1951)
  • Virgil Thomson (1966)
  • American Music Since 1910 (1971)
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