Randall Thompson

Randall Thompson

born on 21/4/1899 in New York City, NY, United States

died on 9/7/1984 in Boston, MA, United States

Randall Thompson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Randall Thompson

Born April 21 1899
New York, New York
Died July 9 1984 (aged 85)
Boston, Massachusetts
Resting place Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts
dmsN dmsW / 42.3701, -71.1445
Nationality American
Known for choral composition
Spouse(s) Margaret Quayle Whitney
Children 4 Randall Jr., Rosie, Whitney, Varney
Parents Dr. Daniel Varney Thompson & Grace B. Randall
Relatives Daniel Varney Thompson, Jr., brother

Randall Thompson (April 21, 1899 – July 9, 1984) was an American composer, particularly noted for his choral works.


He attended Harvard University, became assistant professor of music and choir director at Wellesley College, and received a doctorate in music from the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music. He went on to teach at the Curtis Institute of Music (serving as its Director 1941/1942), at the University of Virginia, and at Harvard University. He is particularly noted for his choral works. He was an honorary member of the Rho Tau chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity at Appalachian State University.

Thompson composed three symphonies and numerous vocal works including Americana, The Testament of Freedom, Frostiana, and The Peaceable Kingdom, inspired by Edward Hicks's painting. His most popular and recognizable choral work is his anthem, Alleluia, commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky for the opening of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. He also wrote the operas Solomon and Balkis and The Nativity According to St. Luke.

Americana, a song cycle, is written in a 20th Century musical art style known as "News Items"compositions that parody newspaper layout and content, or whose lyrics are lifted from media of the day.[1] The lyrics are lifted from the "Americana" section of H.L. Mencken's American Mercury magazine, which would reprint quotes and stories from U.S. publications.[2] The song cycle's texts come from such publications as the Seattle, Washington, Post-Intelligencer, the Little Rock, Arkansas, Gazette, and a leaflet issued by the National Women's Christian Temperance Union.[3]

Leonard Bernstein was one of Thompson's students both at Harvard and at Curtis, according to his own testimony in a speech he gave at Curtis Institute's 75th Anniversary Banquet. Thompson's other notable students include Samuel Adler, Leo Kraft, Juan Orrego-Salas, John Davison, Thomas Beveridge, Charles Edward Hamm, George Lynn, William P. Perry, Christopher King, Joel Cohen, Frederic Rzewski, Richard Edward Wilson and David Borden.

In honor of Thompson's vast influence on male choral music, on May 2, 1964 he became the first recipient of the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit.[4] Established in 1964, this award sought "to bring a declaration of appreciation to an individual each year that has made a significant contribution to the world of music and helped to create a climate in which our talents may find valid expression." He was also a recipient of Yale University's Sanford Medal.[5]


Choral works

  • The Last Invocation - 1922
  • Odes of Horace - 1924
  • Pueri Hebraeorum - 1928
  • Americana - 1932
  • The Peaceable Kingdom - 1936 - inspired by the painting by Edward Hicks and based on texts chosen from Isaiah
  • Alleluia - 1940
  • The Testament of Freedom - 1943 - texts from Thomas Jefferson
  • The Last Words of David - 1949
  • Mass of the Holy Spirit - 1955
  • Ode to the Virginian Voyage - 1956
  • Requiem - A Dramatic Dialogue - 1958
  • Glory to God in the Highest - 1958
  • Frostiana: Seven Country Songs - 1959 - a setting of poems by Robert Frost
  • The Best of Rooms - 1963 - based on text by Robert Herrick
  • A Feast of Praise - 1963 - based on biblical texts
  • A Psalm of Thanksgiving - 1967
  • Place of the Blest - 1968 - based on texts by Robert Herrick and Richard Wilbur
  • Bitter-Sweet - 1970
  • A Concord Cantata - 1975 - secular cantata based on texts by Edward Everett Hale, Allen French and Robert Frost
  • The Twelve Canticles - 1983 - Thompson's last composition - Dedicated to the Emory & Henry College Concert Choir - Based on eleven of Thompson's favorite passages from the Bible
  • The Passion According to St. Luke, commissioned for the 150th anniversary of the Handel and Haydn Society[6]
  • The Nativity According to St. Luke
  • Velvet Shoes


  • Solomon and Balkis


  • Symphony No. 1 - 1931
  • Symphony No. 2 - 1931
  • Symphony No. 3 - 1947-49

String Quartets

  • Quartet no. 1 in D minor (1941)
  • Quartet no. 2 in G major (1967)


  1. Thomas, H. Todd. News Items: An Exploratory Study of Journalism in Music. Abilene, Texas, 1992.
  2. Thompson, Randall. Americana. Album NW 219, New World Records, 1977)
  3. Thomas, H. Todd. News Items: An Exploratory Study of Journalism in Music. Abilene, Texas, 1992.
  4. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  5. Leading clarinetist to receive Sanford Medal
  6. Ericson, Raymond, Handel and Haydn Society Turns 150 in Full Voice, 29 March 1965. URL accessed on 27 July 2012.

External links

Literature by and about Randall Thompson in the German National Library catalogue

  • Randall Thompson, Composer
  • Harvard Magazine article
  • USOpera entry
  • ECS Publishing: Randall Thompson
This page was last modified 24.04.2014 15:18:17

This article uses material from the article Randall Thompson from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.