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Randall Thompson

View Music by Randall Thompson

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Biography

Randall Thompson (born in New York City on April 21, 1899; died in Boston on July 9, 1984), eminent American composer, was educated at Harvard University (B.A. 1920; M.A. 1922). His teachers there included Walter R. Spalding, Edward B. Hill, and Archibald T. Davison. He also studied with Ernest Bloch. From 1922 to 1925, Thompson held a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, and he twice won a Guggenheim Fellowship (1929, 1930). From 1927–1929 and again in 1936–1937, he was assistant professor of music at Wellesley College. Other academic positions included professorships at the University of California, Berkeley (1937–1939) and Princeton University (1946–1948).

From 1939 to 1941, Thompson was director of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and then became head of the music division of the School of Fine Arts of the University of Virginia (1941–1946). In 1945 he was appointed Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music at Harvard University and became Professor Emeritus at the close of the 1964–65 year. Thompson received numerous awards and honorary doctoral degrees from American colleges and universities including Yale, Harvard, and the New England Conservatory of Music. In 1959, the Italian Government named Randall Thompson Cavaliere ufficiale al merito della Reppubllca Italtana. He was a member of The National Institute of Arts and Letters and of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Commissioned in 1958 for the two-hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts, Frostiana was composed between June 15 and July 7, 1959 in Gstaad, Switzerland. The work was first performed as part of the Bicentennial Commemoration at an inter-faith convocation in the Amherst Regional High School Auditorium on October 18, 1959. It was sung by the Bicentennial Chorus, comprised of singers of all denominations in the township. Professor J. Heywood Alexander accompanied, the composer conducted, and the poet was present.

 

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