Chelsea Hotel, Manhattan, September 1989

1989, September, Chelsea Hotel, Manhattan

John Rockwell, in the New York Times, October 1, 1989:

Virgil Thomson, whose homespun, subtly sophisticated compositions and witty but trenchant criticism made him a central figure in American intellectual life for 55 years, died early yesterday in his suite at the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan. He was 92 years old, and his health had been in decline for several months.

‘As a composer, Mr. Thomson is best known for two operas to texts written by his long time friend Gertrude Stein: Four Saints in Three Acts (1934)…and The Mother of Us All (1947). He also received a Pulitzer Prize, the only one ever awarded for a film score, for his music for Louisiana Story

Mr. Thomson began sending music reports from Paris to The Boston Evening Transcript in 1921, and continued writing through the 1920’s and 30’s for journals like Modern Music…[He] continued his observations until very recently: his Music with Words: A Composer’s View, is scheduled for publication this month.

‘But the bulk of his journalism came as chief music critic of The New York Herald Tribune from 1940 to 1954. His prose—”sassy but classy,” he called it—breathed a mastery of American prose style and a spunkily opinionated expertise that set Mr. Thomson apart from his critical peers.’

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