“Virgil Thomson was one of the great stylists in American English prose,” writes Timothy Mangan in Sunday’s (10/19) Orange County Register (California). “The Library of America has finally gotten around to producing a compendium of Thomson’s critical writings.… The volume—clocking in at more than 1,000 pages, edited, with extensive notes and appendices, by the music critic Tim Page—brings together four books of Thomson’s music reviews and essays,” most from the New York Herald Tribune. “Thomson believed that pure description was the main business of music criticism, the forging of opinion secondary. He thought that a critic’s opinion would come through naturally in his description, without being forced. He didn’t always write this way in practice, but it was a basic premise that served him well…. The present volume is valuable, of course, as a chronicle of a particularly rich period of musical life in this country. All the big composers and performers are here at their height. It was a Golden Age. But I think the book is even more valuable as a record of one deeply musical man’s listening experiences put into beautiful prose. It is a book that can teach us all how to be better listeners.”

Posted October 21, 2014