Virgil Thomson (1896-1989) was a pivotal American composer, conductor and music critic.
Educated at Harvard, he later studied under Nadia Boulanger in Paris, where he was influenced by French composers like Les Six and Erik Satie, resulting in music marked by clarity, simplicity, humor and careful craftsmanship.
His repertoire ranged from operas, like ‘Four Saints in Three Acts’ and ‘The Mother of Us All’ with libretti by Gertrude Stein, to symphonies, concerti and film scores.
His score for ‘Louisiana Story’ won a Pulitzer Prize for music in 1949.
Thomson also served as a music critic for the New York Herald Tribune (1940–54) and penned several influential books on music including his 1966 autobiography.
In this post, I have selected the best quotes by Virgil Thomson.
Best Virgil Thomson Quotes
I look at you and I write down what I hear. ~ Virgil Thomson.
Verbal communication about music is impossible except among musicians. ~ Virgil Thomson.
I don’t care what other critics say, I only hope to be played. ~ Virgil Thomson.
I don’t have to worry no matter what they do to it, it works. ~ Virgil Thomson.
I don’t go around regretting things that don’t happen. ~ Virgil Thomson.
You explain how it went, and as far as you can figure out how it got that way. ~ Virgil Thomson.
I listened to the pure crystalline notes of one of Mozart’s concertos dropping at my feet like leaves from the trees. ~ Virgil Thomson.
Let your mind alone, and see what happens. ~ Virgil Thomson.
I never learned to verbalize an abstract musical concept. No thank you. The whole point of being a serious musician is to avoid verbalization whenever you can. ~ Virgil Thomson.
Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not. ~ Virgil Thomson.
Top Virgil Thomson Quotes
The description and explanation is the best part of music reviewing. There is such a thing, and you know it too, as a gift for judgment. If you have it, you can say anything you like. If you haven’t got it, you don’t know you haven’t got it. ~ Virgil Thomson.
Every composer’s music reflects in its subject-matter and in its style the source of the money the composer is living on while writing the music. ~ Virgil Thomson.
The way to write American music is simple. All you have to do is be an American and then write any kind of music you wish. ~ Virgil Thomson.
I said to my friends that if I was going to starve, I might as well starve where the food is good. ~ Virgil Thomson.
In Paris, you learn wit, in London you learn to crush your social rivals, and in Florence you learn poise. ~ Virgil Thomson.
A libretto that should never have been accepted on a subject that should never have been chosen by a man who should never have attempted it. ~ Virgil Thomson.
Famous Virgil Thomson Quotes
Reviewing music or reviewing anything is a writing job. It’s nice if you are experienced in the field you are writing about, but writing is what you are doing. ~ Virgil Thomson.
I seem to write an opera about every 20 years; if you live long enough you can write four operas. I finished my third in 1970. ~ Virgil Thomson.
Musicians own music because music owns them. ~ Virgil Thomson.
I’ve never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down. ~ Virgil Thomson.
So these were 21 top Virgil Thomson quotes and sayings that you would like.