Thome, Francis, American composer and music patron; b. Bay Shore, Long Island, N.Y., June 23, 1922. Of a cultural heritage (his maternal grandfather was Gustav Kobbé), he absorbed musical impressions crouching under the grand piano while his father, a banker, played ragtime. He received instruction in composition from Donovan and Hindemith at Yale Univ. (B.A., 1942). After working in banking and stock brokerage (1946-54), he was active as a jazz pianist in the U.S. and Italy (1955-61). He also studied with Diamond in Florence. Impressed, depressed, and distressed by the inhumanly impecunious condition of middle-aged atonal composers, he established the eleemosynary Thorne Music Fund (1965-75), drawing on the hereditary wealth of his family, and disbursed munificent grants to those who qualified, among them Wolpe, Weber, Harrison, Trimble, Cage, and Diamond. He served as executive director of the Lenox Arts Center (1972-76) and of the American Composers’ Alliance (1975-85). In 1976 he co-founded the American Composers Orch. in N.Y., subsequently serving as its president. In 1988 he was elected to membership in the American Academy and Inst. of Arts and Letters. In 1994 he was composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome. Thome’s music shares with that of his beneficiaries the venturesome spirit of the cosmopolitan avant-garde, with a prudently dissonant technique serving the conceptual abstractions and titular paronomasia of many modern compositions.
dramatic: Fortuna, operetta (N.Y., Dec. 20, 1961); Opera buffa for Opera Buffs (1965); After the Teacups, ballet (N.Y., July 31, 1974); Echoes of Spoon River, ballet (N.Y., June 20, 1976); Mario and the Magician, opera (1991-93; N.Y., March 12, 1994). ORCH .: 7 syms. (1961, 1964, 1969, 1977, 1984, 1992, 1996); Elegy (1963); Burlesque Overture (1964); Rhapsodic Variations for Piano and Orch. (1964); 3 piano concertos (1965, 1974, 1990); Double Concerto for Viola, Double Bass, and Orch. (1967-68); Sonar Plexus for Electric Guitar and Orch. (1968); Liebesrock for 3 Electric Guitars and Orch. (1969); Fanfare, Fugue and Funk for 3 Trumpets and Orch. (1972); Violin Concerto (1976); Pop Partita for Piano and Chamber Orch. (1976); Divertimento No. 1 for Flute and Strings (1979) and No. 2 for Bassoon and Strings (1980); Humoresque, overture (1985); Concerto Concertante for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Orch. (1985); Rhapsodic Variations No. 3 for Oboe and Strings (1986); Cello Concerto No. 2 (1996); Clarinet Concerto (1997); Flash Dances (1998); Oboe Concerto (2000). CHAMBER : 4 string quartets (1960, 1967, 1975, 1983); Music for a Circus for 7 Instruments (1963); Lyric Variations No. 2 for Woodwind and Percussion (1972), No. 3 for Piano, Violin, and Cello (1972), and No. 8 for Flute, Celesta, and Cello (1999); Piano Sonata (1972); Evensongs for Flute, Harp, Guitar, Celesta, and Percussion (1972); Prufrock Ballet Music for 7 Instruments (1974); Chamber Concerto for Cello and 10 Instruments (1975); 5 Set Pieces for Saxophone Quartet (1977); Grand Duo for Oboe and Harpsichord (1977); Eine Kleine Meyermusik for Clarinet and Cello (1980); Burlesk Pit Music for Clarinet and Cello (1983); Divertimento No. 3 for Woodwind Quintet (1983); Rhapsodic Variations No. 2 for Clarinet, Violin, and Cello (1985), No. 3 for Oboe and String Quartet (1986), No. 5 for Viola and Piano (1988), and No. 7 for Piano (1998); 2 Environments for Brass Quintet (1990); Partita No. 2 for Chamber Ensemble (1991); Electrified Elan for Guitar (1992); How Wild the Rose for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, and Cello (1996); Quiet Night Song for Cello and Piano (1997). VOCAL : De profundis for Soprano, Chorus, and Organ (1959); Nocturnes for Voice and Piano or String Quartet (1962); Song of the Carolina Low Country for Chorus and Orch. (1968); A Mad Wriggle, madrigal (1970); Cantata Sauce for Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, and 8 Players (1973); Love’s Variations for Flute, Soprano, and Piano (1977); La Luce Eterna for High Voice and Orch. (1978); Praise and Thanksgiving for Chorus and Orch. (1983); The Affirming Flame for Soprano and Small Ensemble (1987); Money Matters for Tenor and Ensemble (1988); Echo for Soprano and Chorus (1995).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire