Thomson, Virgil (Subject/Composer) & Tommasini, Anthony (Author). VIRGIL THOMSON'S MUSICAL PORTRAITS. New York City, NY: Pendragon Press, 1986. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 237 pages. Fine.

Complete Catalog of the composer's musical-portrait compositions. One of the most treasurable books on music of the 20th century. The First Hardcover Edition. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only as Volume 13 of the now-legendary Thematic Catalogues Series. The First Edition is now scarce. Without DJ, as issued. Presents "Virgil Thomson's Musical Portraits". Meticulously assembled by Anthony Tommasini, the New York Times music critic and Thomson's biographer, an exhaustive and illuminating catalog of the great American composer's homage-portraits of well-known, not-so-well-known, and relatively unknown figures (known to and loved by the composer) whom Thomson all portrayed through music. "Chopin", a gem from his "Carnaval" Suite, is one of Robert Schumann's most beloved pieces, an homage-portrait of the fellow composer he championed. It is also one of the model-inspirations, among many others, for Thomson's lifelong project of figurative portrayal through music of HIS own personal pantheon of Chopins, Schumanns, and others, who include virtually ALL of the greatest artistic figures of the 20th century. As a genre of programmatic music, musical portraiture is an exquisite challenge: If successful, it dramatically expands music's expressive possibilities by rendering a composer's often deeply emotional response to a particular figure while attempting at the same time to present an objective portrayal of him or her that he or she - as well as the listener/audience - will recognize as faithful, accurate, and true. "From 1928 until his death in 1989, Virgil Thomson, Dean of American Composers, distinguished critic and author, composed musical portraits of people. Though he was not the first composer to do so, the seriousness of his working methods and the quantity of his output (140 in all) make Thomson's practice of musical portraiture unique. Based on extensive Interviews with Virgil Thomson, examination of manuscripts and documents, and correspondences with over sixty still-living subjects of Thomson's portraits. Earlier examples of musical portraits are carefully examined as well as the literary portraits of Gertrude Stein, whose works inspired Thomson to experiment with portraiture in music" (Publisher's blurb). The libretto of Thomson's opera and most famous work, "Four Saints In Three Acts", was, of course, written by Gertrude Stein. An absolute "must-have" title for Virgil Thomson and Anthony Tommasini collectors. This copy is very prominently, neatly, and beautifully signed, dated (in the year of publication), and inscribed in blue ink-pen on the front free endpaper by the composer: "For Phyllis Curtin, affection ever and ever, Virgil T. 1986". It is signed directly on the page itself, not on a tipped-in page. The recipient was one of the most celebrated sopranos of the 20th century, who performed Virgil Thomson's works. This title is a classic. As far as we know, this is the only such signed, publication-year dated, and inscribed copy of the First Hardcover Edition/First Printing available online and is in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a beauty. A rare signed copy thus. One of the greatest American composers and music critics of the 20th century. A fine collectible copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER VIRGIL THOMSON AND ANTHONY TOMMASINI TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). ISBN 0918728517. $150.00

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