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ALS on How to “Dig” a Composer & What Mann and Rolland Failed to Do

Signed by Virgil Thomson

$180 net
Item: 22687
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THOMSON, VIRGIL. (1896-1989). American composer, conductor and music critic. ALS. (“Virgil Thomson”). 1p. 8vo. New York, October 27, 1958. To Ken McCORMICK (1906-1997), editor-in-chief of Doubleday & Co.

“The only way for your young man to ‘get’ (to ‘dig’) the composer is to spend some years in the company of one (or more). Romain Rolland and Thomas Mann both of them failed. Their composers are just literary types pretending to write music. For the externals of composition like rehearsals, performances, broadcasts, the patronage world and all that, the recipe is the same – frequent some musicians. Naturally, if he has specific questions to ask, I should be glad to see him. Ask him to phone CHelsea 3-3700.”

Among Thomson’s best-known works are the operas Four Saints in Three Acts and The Mother of Us All, based on suffragette Susan B. Anthony’s life. However, in addition to composing, Thomson was an influential music critic for the New York Herald Tribune from 1940-1954.

Thomson’s letter refers to German novelist Thomas Mann (1875-1955) and French author and pacifist Romain Rolland (1866-1944). Mann authored the fictional Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkuhn as Told by a Friend, inspired in part by German composer Arnold Schoenberg and his innovative 12-tone music system. Rolland was a prolific writer whose biography of Beethoven inspired his epic 10-volume novel about a German composer (“Beethoven in the modern world,” according to Rolland) and his art entitled, Jean-Christophe.

Thomson’s letter is written on the verso of a TLS from McCormick on Doubleday & Company letterhead introducing a “young editor who is writing a novel about a composer and wants to know more than he already knows on the subject.”

Normal folds and with staple holes in the upper corners; fine.

ALS on How to “Dig” a Composer & What Mann and Rolland Failed to Do

Signed by Virgil Thomson

$180 net • item #22687

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