RANDALL THOMPSON: A Bio-Bibliography
By Caroline Cepin Benser and David Francis Urrows
No. 38 (ISSN: 0742-6968)
Greenwood Press. Westport, Conn. 1991. 248 pages
LC 90-29279. ISBN 0-313-25521-0. BRO/
Thompson's musical reputation has been secured by two mooring ropes. The
first is Leonard Bernstein's propulsively eloquent open-spaces recording
Thompson's Second Symphony. The second is his church and other choral music.
The latter has found a place in the hearts of choirs and choirmasters around
the world. The former is well on its way to occupying the place of Prokofiev's
Classical Symphony or Mendelssohn's Italian. The Second Symphony
is a work of lithe and springy movement: new minted and ricocheting with
This Greenwood Press book was first published in 1991 and uses a standard
'clean' courier type font as if taken directly from a smart IBM golf ball
typewriter of the late 1980s. The paper is matte white-cream, of a suitable
opacity though with narrower margins than is ideal or common.
The biography is quite substantial (pp1-43 with detailed end-notes) for this
series given that the bio-bibliographies' raison d'être is more
bibliography than biographical narrative. The catalogue of works (pp53-103)
has all the usual details including specifications, premieres, MS location
As a source book on Thompson this is unique. Not only are press notices included
but key extracts from reviews are quoted. Thompson's own writings are listed.
A discography and chronological list of works complete the picture. There
is a serviceable index making this a practical resource for researchers.
If you don't know Symphony No. 2 then track down the Bernstein version on
Sony at midprice. All three symphonies are available on Koch International
- a set well worth getting.
Can we also hope for recordings of the orchestral Trip To Nahant (1954).
I hope so. I would also love to hear his 1924 work The Wind In The
Willows for string quartet and, another Kenneth Grahame inspiration,
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn - an orchestral prelude contemporaneous
with The Wind In The Willows.
All in all this book is much more than a book of lists. Make it your companion
to an exploration of the music.
The ordering information for the UK is as follows:
Available from Greenwood Publishers, C/o EDS, 3 Henrietta Street,
Covent Garden, London WC2E 8LU.
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7240 0856.
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7379 0609.
Cheques must be made payable to EDS Publications Ltd
Following credit cards are accepted: Visa, Mastercard & American Express.
In the USA and Canada the book is available from:
Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc, 88 Post Road West, PO Box
5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007, USA.
Order toll free from 1-800-225-5800
Tel: (203) 226 3571.
Fax: (203) 222-1502.
Checks should be made payable to: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.
The following credit cards are accepted: Visa, Mastercard, American Express.
FROM GREENWOOD WEBSITE
** Description **
"Two scholars specializing in 20th-century music, Benser (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
and Urrows (Hong Kong Baptist College) have collaborated on this work about
"the most frequently performed and least written about American composer
of the twentieth century." The biography of Thompson, which forms the first
part of the volume, is by Urrows who was a student, friend, and ultimately,
amanuensis to the composer. A chronological, classified catalog of works,
both published and unpublished, is followed by an annotated bibliography
of Thompson's own writings, together with another bibliography of books and
articles about the composer and his works. A short discographical section
is followed with appendixes containing chronological and alphabetical lists
of compositions and with an extensive index. This is the first major reference
work on this important choral composer. As is usual for volumes in this valuable
series, the book is clearly printed and well bound, and it is highly recommended
for undergraduate and graduate music collections as well as for public libraries
serving communities with active choral societies."
When Randall Thompson died in 1984, America lost one of its most distinguished
musicians. At the time of his death, it was already apparent that an assessment
of his varied contributions to our musical life in the context of his
contemporary generation was sorely needed. Randall Thompson: A Bio-Bibliography
is the first comprehensive study of Thompson's oeuvre since his death.
The volume is organized into five parts, beginning with a substantial biography
written by David Francis Urrows, Thompson's final student and amanuensis.
Urrows presents new information on Thompson's youth, his study in Italy and
the influence of Malipiero on his work, his educational and compositional
philosophy, and his role in the emergence of American music from the influence
of European models. Benser's most complete catalog of works compiled to date
follows. This vital list includes previously unpublished compositions,
particularly those newly made available by Thompson's longtime publisher,
E. C. Schirmer, and new recordings made by Bay Cities Music. A sampling of
prose writings by Thompson offers a eclectic overview. The complete, extensively
annotated bibliography, discography, and two appendixes that list Thompson's
compositions chronologically and alphabetically complete this study. Music
libraries will want to add this volume to their collections. It will also
be an invaluable reference for choral directors, program note annotators,
and American music enthusiasts.
** Table of Contents **
-- Catalog of Works
-- Writings by Thompson
-- Appendix I: Chronological List of Compositions
-- Appendix II: Alphabetical List of Compositions
-- Appendix III: Forthcoming Publications from E. C. Schirmer
** Authors **
CAROLINE CEPIN BENSER lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and is the author of
Egon Wellesz (1885-1974): Chronicle of a Twentieth-Century Musician.
DAVID FRANCIS URROWS, a lecturer in the Department of Music at Hong Kong
Baptist College, has the distinction of being Randall Thompson's final student.