Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

September 22, 1996|SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS

EVERBEST EVER: Correspondence With Bay Area Friends by Virgil Thomson gathered and annotated by Charles Shere with Margery Tede (Fallen Leaf Press/Berkeley, Calif.: $24, 95 pp.). "Dear Charles: Marcel ate frugally, enjoyed his food, but did not drink much. For an unusual meat, why don't you serve guinea?" "Dear Virgil: . . . composing's primarily a matter of discipline, like anything else; I've been keeping those appointments with the Muse as you say and she has turned up herself from time to time I hope."

This is the kind of grab-bag you get when you take on the letters of artists, composers and writers or even politicians who mean something to you. In this slim volume, composer Virgil Thomson's delight in food and friends comes shining through, the arrangements over performances reveal the more mundane details of any artistic endeavor and in his later years (the letters span two decades: 1968, when he was 72, to his death in 1989) bootleg caviar earns more praise than any performance of his opera, "The Mother of Us All."

Thomson lived for many years in Paris, where he befriended Gertrude Stein, and met, among others, Cocteau and Erik Satie (a great source of inspiration to him). He returned to the United States at the onset of World War II and was the chief music critic of the New York Herald Tribune for 14 years. He was opinionated, as his friend Charles Shere writes in his introduction, direct and straightforward in his music and, this volume shows, in his letters.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|