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Randall Thompson (1899-1984)

Ira Randall Thompson was born in 1899 in New York City. The son of an English teacher, Thompson never strayed far from the academic environment. His early musical pursuits began at an old reed organ on the family summer farm in Vienna, Maine. His first attempts at composition began around 1915 with a piano sonata and a Christmas partsong. In 1916 he entered Harvard University he auditioned for the chorus but was turned down by its conductor, Archibald T. Davison, who eventually became his mentor. Thompson later mused, "My life has been an attempt to strike back." His early works, including several songs, varied considerably in style. But in 1922 he began studies at the American Academy in Rome where, inspired by the master composers of the Renaissance, he developed the musical style which led him to the forefront of American choral composers. During his career he intermingled both teaching and composing, having been director of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music as well as a professor at his alma mater, Harvard University. Though he composed symphonies, songs, operas and instrumental works, he is best known for his choral compositions.
Thorpe Music Publishing Co.

COMPOSITIONS                                                            Thompson Links     ~ ~ ~     Works by Genre
[under construction]

Grand Street Follies of 1926 by Arthur Schwartz; Agnes Morgan; Lily Hyland; Randall Thompson
Indianola Variations, 2 pianos (????)  by Randall Thompson; Domenico Savino; Leopold D Mannes; S R Henry
Twenty Chorale-preludes, Four Inventions and a Fugue

Alleluia, chorus (1940)
Americana, chorus (1932) [text: from "The American Mercury": a sequence of five transcripts from Americana"]
    - May every tongue, chorus a capella
    - The staff necromancer, chorus and piano
    - God's bottles, chorus and piano (also for female chorus???)
    - The sublime process of law enforcement, chorus a capella
    - Loveli-lines, chorus a capella
Antiphon, chorus (1972) [text: George Herbert]
The Best of Rooms, chorus (1963) [text: Robert Herrick]
Bitter-sweet, chorus (1970) [text: George Herbert]
Bread of the World, anthem  (pub. 1931) [text: Reginald Heber]
A Concord Cantata, chorus and orchestra (1975)
    - The ballad of the bridge [text: Edward Everett Hale]
    - Inscription (Conclusion of the commemorative tablet at the Old North Bridge) [text: Allen French]
    - The gift outright [text: Robert Frost]
The Eternal Dove, chorus (1965; pub. 1971) [text: Joseph Beaumont]
A Feast of Praise, cantata, chorus, brass ensemble and harp (1963) [text: from The Bible]
Five Odes of Horace, chorus (1924) [text: Horace]
    - O Venus, regina cnidi paphique (Invocation to Venus) [also arr. for chorus and orchestra, pub. 1932]
    - Vitas hinnuleo me similis, Chloë
    - Montium custos nemorumque, Virgo (Dedication of a pine tree to Diana)
    - Quis multa, gracilis (To Pyrrha) (male chorus)
    - O fons Bandusiae, splendidior vitro [SSATBB]
    - No. 6 (added 1956?): Felices ter (Thrice happy they)
Frostiana, 7 country songs, male, female & mixed chorus and piano (1959) [text: Robert Frost]
    - The road not taken [SATB]
    - The pasture [TBB]
    - Come in [SAA]
    - The telephone (Dialogue) [SAA + TTBB]
    - A girl's garden [SAA]
    - Stopping by woods on a snowy evening [TBB]
    - Choose something like a star [SATB]
The Gate of Heaven, female chorus [SSAA] (pub. 1959) [also arr. for mixed chorus]
Glory to God in the Highest, chorus (1958)
The Happy Shore, chorus and piano (or strings) (1978) [text: Edmund Spencer]
An Hymn for Scholars and Pupils, female chorus [SSAA], organ and chamber orchestra (1973) [text: George Wither, 1641]
    - also arr. for female chorus [SSAA], flute and piano
The Lark in the Morn, chorus (1940) [arr. of a folk-song from Somersetshire]
The Last Invocation, chorus [6-part] (1922) [text: Walt Whitman]
The Last Words of David, chorus and orchestra (1949) [text: from Samuel, XXIII, 3, 4]
The Light of Stars, chorus (c.1918) [text: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow] [music by "Frank Shoe"/pseud.]
The Lord is My Shepherd, female (or mixed) chorus and piano (or organ; or harp) (1964) [text: Psalm 23]
Mass of the Holy Spirit, chorus (1955-56)
    - Kyrie
     - Gloria
     - Credo
     - Sanctus, Benedictus and Hosanna
     - Agnus Dei
The Mirror of St. Anne, an antiphonal setting in inverse contrary imitation, double chorus (1972) [text: Isaac Watts]
The Nativity According to Saint Luke, a musical drama in 7 scenes, soloists, chorus, organ and chamber orchestra (pub. 1962)
                                                                      [text: from Luke, chapters 1-2; and a poem by Richard Rowlands, i.e. Verstegan]
    - Introduction: The Voice Of One Crying In The Wilderness
    - I. Zacharias And The Angel
    - II. The Annuciation
    - III. Visitation
            - Magnificat (My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord), from The Nativity According to Saint Luke, Scene III: Visitation
    - IV. The Naming Of John
    - V. The Appartition
    - VI. The Adoration
            - Nowel, from The Nativity According to Saint Luke, Scene VI: The Adoration
    - VII. The Song Of Simeon
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, motet, female chorus (pub. 1954) [text: from "The New England Primer"]
Ode to the Virginian Voyage, chorus and orchestra (1956) [text: Michael Drayton]
    - Sinfonia
    - You brave heroic minds
    - Earth's only paradise
    - In kenning of the shore
    - And in regions far
    - Thy voyages attend
    - Finale: Go and subdue!
The Passion According to Saint Luke, oratorio in 10 scenes (pub. 1965)
The Peaceable Kingdom, chorus (1935) [text: from Isaiah] ["a sequence of choruses"]
    - Say Ye to the Righteous
    - Woe Unto Them
    - The Noise of a Multitude
    - Howl Ye
    - The Paper Reeds by the Brooks
    - Recit: But These Are They That Forsake the Lord; For Ye Shall Go Out With Joy
    - Have Ye Not Known?
    - Ye Shall Have a Song
The Place of the Blest, treble voices and orchestra (or keyboard) (1968) [text: Robert Herrick and Richard Wilbur]
    - The carol of the rose
    - The pelican
     - The place of the blest
    - Alleluia, amen
A Psalm of Thanksgiving, a cantata, chorus, 2-part children's choir and orchestra (or piano/organ) (1967) [text: Psalm 107]
    - Chorale prelude "Nun danket"
    - O give thanks unto the Lord
    - They wandered in wilderness
    - Such as sit in darkness
    - Foolish men are plagued
    - They that go down to the sea in ships
    - He turneth the wilderness
    - Now thank we all our God
Pueri Herbraeorum, antiphonal double female chorus [SSAA+SSAA] (1928)
The Purr-ima Donna, unison voices and piano (????) [text: Emma Rounds]
Requiem, a dramatic dialogue in five parts, double chorus (1958)
    - Lamentations
    - The Triumph of Faith
    - The Call to Song
    - The Garment of Praise
    - The Leave-taking

Requiem : Good tidings to the meek [from part two]
Requiem : the Lord shall be unto thee [from part five]
Requiem : Ye were sometimes darkness (walk as children of light) [from part five]
Requiem : Thou hast given him [from part five]
Requiem : Amen, Alleluia, double chorus [fugal finale]
Requiem: The garment of praise, double chorus [part four complete]
Requiem: Return Unto Thy Rest
Requiem: Blessed be the Lord God
Requiem: O Let the Nations Be Glad

Rosemary, cycle of 4 choruses, female chorus (pub. 1930) [text: Stephen Vincent Benét]
    - Chemical Analysis
    - A Sad Song
    - A Nonsense Song
    - To Rosemary
Tarantella (Do you remember an inn, Miranda?), male chorus [TTBB] & piano (1937) [text: Hilaire Belloc] [also arr. for mixed voices]
The Testament of Freedom, male chorus and orchestra (1943) [text: Thomas Jefferson]
    - The God who gave us life
    - We have counted the cost
    - We fight not for glory
    - I shall not die without a hope
Twelve Canticles, chorus (1983) [text: based on eleven of Thompson's favorite passages from the Bible]
    - Praise ye the Lord
    - God is a spirit
    - When thou liest down
    - My grace is sufficient
    - The old and the young
    - I call to remembrance
    - Arise, shine
    - The path of the just
    - Face answereth to face
    - Fear thou not
    - Farewell
    - Amen
Two Childhood Songs, unison or 2-part voices (or chorus) and piano (????) [text: Walter De la Mare]
    - Some One (1927)
    - The Echo Child (1927)
Two Worlds, chorus and piano (pub. 1978) [text: Edmund Waller]
Velvet Shoes, female chorus [SA] and piano (pub. 1960) [text: Elinor Wylie] [arr. from work for voice and piano]
    - originally no. 5 of his "New songs for new voices"

Five Love Songs (1980)
    - The Light of Stars, chorus (c.1918) [text: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]
    - The Passenger, baritone and piano (pub. 1961) [text: M.A. De Wolfe Howe]
    - Two Worlds, chorus and piano (pub. 1978) [text: Edmund Waller]
    - Siciliano (Love is like a wind upon the water), baritone and piano (1978) [text: Philip H. Rhinelander]
    - The Happy Shore, chorus and piano (or strings) (1978) [text: Edmund Spencer]

WORKS BY GENRE                                                            Thompson Links     ~ top of page ~
[under construction]
Solomon and Balkis (The Butterfly That Stamped), opera in one act (1942?) [libretto: from Kipling]

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, orchestra (1924) [after a chapter of the same name in "The wind in the willows" by K. Grahame]
Sinfonie Nr. 1 (1925-29)
Sinfonie Nr. 2 (1931)
Sinfonie Nr. 3 (1947-49)
A Trip to Nahant, fantasy for orchestra (1953)

Soloist(s) w/Orchestra
Jazz Poem, piano and orchestra (1927)

Chorus w/Orchestra


Suite, oboe, clarinet and viola (1940)
String Quartet No. 1, d minor (1941)
Divertimento, 3 double basses (1949) [also titled "Trio"]
String Quartet No. 2, G major (1967; pub. 1972)
Scherzino, piccolo, violin and viola (pub. 1983)
Wedding Music: a suite of 8 festive pieces, string quartet (1971)
    - Introduction and Allegro
    - Siciliana
    - Minuetto
    - Sarabande
    - Fanfare
    - Marcia nuziale
    - Amen I
    - Amen II
    - Recessional : tempo di marcia cerimoniale

The Boats Were Talking, piano (1925; pub. 1980)
Little Prelude, piano (pub. 1936) [Masters of Our Day educational series]
Song After Sundown, piano (pub. 1936)

Epigram, medium voice unacc. (19??)
Solstice: from Fearful Symmetry, baritone and piano (19??) [text: Robert Lee Wolff]
A Book of Songs, voice and piano (1922) [text: Erskine Wood]
    - The white seal's lullaby
    - O mistress mine
    - Ariel's fairy song
    - Ariel's sea dance
    - Sigh no more ladies
    - A summer lullaby
    - An Indian lullaby
    - Ballade des dames du temps jadis
    - Love, ere love flies beyond recall
    - Gunga Din
    - Little Erskine's baby song
Tapestry, mezzo-soprano and piano (1925) [text: William Douglas]
Four Songs for Children, voice and piano (1927)
    - My Master Hath a Garden [text: Anon.]
    - The Wild Home-pussy [text: Emma Rounds]
    - Some One [text: Walter De la Mare]
    - Velvet Shoes [text: Elinor Wylie]
My Master Hath a Garden, voice and piano (1927; pub. 1938) [text: Anon.]
The Echo Child, voice and piano (1927) [text: Walter De la Mare]
Two Songs, medium voice and piano (pub. 1938)
    - Velvet Shoes (1927) [text: Elinor Wylie] [also arr. for female chorus]
The Passenger, baritone and piano (1957; pub. 1961) [text: M.A. De Wolfe Howe]
Thy Book Falls Open, Lord, medium voice and piano (1964?) [text: David Thompson Watson McCord]
Siciliano (Love is like a wind upon the water), baritone and piano (1978) [text: Philip H. Rhinelander]

Pierrot and Cothurnus, incidental music (1922) [Prelude to a play in one act by Edna St. Vincent Millay]

THOMPSON  LINKS                                                            Works by Genre      ~ top of page ~
[under construction]
The Music of Randall Thompson - A Documented Catalog (Carl & Elizabeth Schmidt, ECS Publishing)  -  excerpt  here

Composer's website   . . .   inquire about Randall Thompson:  here

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