Francis Thorne’s music was not performed professionally until he was 40 years old. He had been, respectively, Naval officer, banker, stockbroker, and jazz pianist. Although he had two years of study with Paul Hindemith at Yale, Hindemith discouraged a composing career. It wasn’t until he had private studies with David diamond in Florence, Italy, that he developed the craftsmanship and confidence to pursue a professional composing career.
Thorne’s first orchestral work after completing his studies with Diamond was Elegy for Orchestra. When Eugene Ormandy premiered it with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1964, the Philadelphia Bulletin described it as “deeply felt and effective.” The success of Elegy brought Thorne back from Florence to New York, where he combined music administration and composing. His catalogue of works includes seven symphonies, fifteen concerti, four string quartets, and the opera Mario and the Magician.
He was Executive Director of the Walter M. Naumberg Foundation and the American Composers Alliance, and was President and CEO of the American Composers Orchestra for many years. He also spent two years as Executive Director of Lyn Austin’s Music Theater Group and, for seven years, he ran the Thorne Music Fund which awarded three-year fellowships to American composers of “mature years and recognized accomplishments.” Recipients of these fellowships included Stefan Wolpe, Ben Weber, Lou Harrison, David Diamond, Jacob Druckman, Lucia Dlugoszewski, and Henry Brant among others.
He served on the Boards of the MacDowell Colony, The Manhattan School of Music, Composers Recordings, Inc., American Music Center, American Brass Quintet, the Group for Contemporary Music, the American Composers Alliance, and the Walter M. Naumberg Foundation. He also served on the music panel of the New York State Council on the Arts.
Thorne’s awards include the American Academy of Arts and Letters, three National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, two Ford Foundation Recording Awards, a Fairleigh Dickinson University Award, the ACA Laurel Leaf Award, a BMI Certificate of Excellence for service to American music, and residencies with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Cabrillo Festival (three times), Harvard University, Connecticut College, and the New Hampshire Music Festival.
He received commissions from, among others, the Seattle Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Albany Symphony (three times), Youngstown and Shreveport Symphonies, Valerie Bettis Dance Company, New Haven and Springfield Symphonies, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Cabrillo Festival as well as numerous chamber ensembles. Other important orchestral performances have been with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Denver Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Kansas City Philharmonic, the New York Pops Orchestra, the Guggenheim Concert Band, and the Westchester Philharmonic.
He was elected in 1988 to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, where he has served as Treasurer and Board Member. He also belonged to the American Composers Alliance, American Music Center, and was a member of the Century Association and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI).
Thorne passed away on March 7, 2017. His music is published by Merion Music (Theodore Presser Company), C.F. Peters, and General Music, and is recorded on New World Records, CRI, Louisville and Serenus.
Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation Drag Here to Add To List Solo Centennial Fanfare 143-40008 3:00 Organ Double Bass Hit
For Solo Contrabass
144-40536 11:00 Contrabass Electrified Elan 144-40350 11:00 Electric Guitar The “In” Viol-in
For Solo Violin
144-40533 9:00 Violin Lyric Variations No. 1
For Piano Solo
140-40101 21:00 Piano Lyric Variations No. 4
144-40319 9:00 Violin Lyric Variations No. 6
For Solo Cello
144-40358 9:00 Cello Lyric Variations No. 9
For Solo Piano
140-40100 15:30 Piano Mello’ ‘Cello
For Solo ‘Cello
144-40535 10:00 Cello Rhapsodic Variations No. 4
For Solo Viola
144-40352 9:00 Viola Rhapsodic Variations No. 7 140-40082 15:30 Piano Seven Simple Syncopations
For Solo Piano
140-40058 Piano Vi-oh-la-la
For Solo Viola
144-40534 1:00 Viola Chamber Ensemble Anniversary Fanfare 10031 3:00 0 0 0 0 – 4 3 3 1; 2Perc. Burlesk Pit Music
For Oboe, Clarinet, and Cello
144-40351 3:00 Oboe, Clarinet, Cello Chamber Concerto
for Solo Violoncello and 10 Instruments
15585 19:00 Solo Vcl.; 1 0 1 1 – 0 1 1 0; 2Perc. Vln. Vla. Cb. Chamber Deviations 144-40356 9:00 Clarinet, Percussion, Bass Divertimento No. 3
In Five Movements
144-40320 15:15 Woodwind Quintet Evensongs
For Flute, Harp, Guitar, Celeste, and Percussion
144-40322 15:30 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments) Five Set Pieces 144-40328 13:00 Saxophone Quartet Head Music 144-40321 15:51 Clarinet, Cello, Piano Lyric Variations No. 3 144-40367 12:40 String Trio Lyric Variations No. 8 144-40402 3:20 Flute, Celeste, Cello Partita
For Violin-Piano Duo
144-40366 15:00 Violin, Piano Partita No. 2 144-40348 17:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments) Prufrock
Ballet Music for Seven Instruments
15447 30:00 1(Picc.) 0 1(B.Cl.) 1 – 0 1 0 0; Perc. El. Gtr. Vcl. Quiet Night Song 144-40318 9:00 Cello, Piano Remembering Dizzy 144-40349 10:00 Brass Quintet Rhapsodic Variations No. 2 144-40323 14:00 Clarinet, Violin, Cello Rhapsodic Variations No. 5 144-40327 17:00 Violin, Piano Seven Set Pieces
for 13 Players
15451 20:00 0 0 2(B.Cl.) 2(Cbsn.) – 0 2 1 0; 2Perc. Pno.(Cel.) 2Vla. Cb. String Quartet No. 3 144-40357 21:00 String Quartet String Quartet No. 4 144-40365 15:00 String Quartet Choral / Vocal Echo
For Soprano Solo and Mixed Chorus
342-40177 6:00 Vocal Ensemble Evening Prayer
For S.A.T.B. Chorus With Piano Or Organ
342-40160 4:00 SATB with Piano Lighten Our Darkness
For S.A.T.B. Chorus With Piano Or Organ
342-40171 2:30 SATB with Piano Money Matters
for Tenor, Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Piano, Violin and Cello
15444 21:00 Voice and Instrument Power 141-40067 3:00 Voice and Instrument Praise and Thanksgiving
for Mixed Chorus and Orchestra
15446 17:30 SATB Chorus; 1(Picc.) 1(E.H.) 0 0 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Orchestra Burlesque Overture 15434 9:00 2 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Concerto for Orchestra 12471 23:00 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Elegy for Orchestra 15438 13:30::00 2 2 2 2 – 4 2 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Hp. Str. Fantasia
for String Orchestra
15440 9:00 Str. Flash Dances 15442 10:00 2(Picc.) 2(E.H.) 2 2 – 4 2 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Hp. Str. Second Symphony 15450 24:00 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Symphony No. 3 15454 23:30 Timp. 5Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Hp. Str. Symphony No. 5 15455 22:00 3 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; 4Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Symphony No. 6
for Stringed Instruments
15456 17:00 Banjo, Pno. Hp. Str. Symphony No. 7 15457 2 2 2 2 – 4 2 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Orchestra with Soloist(s) Cello Concerto No. 2 15435 23:00 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 0; Timp. 2Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Clarinet Concerto 15436 23:30 Solo Cl.; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 0 0; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str. Concerto Concertante
for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Chamber Symphony
15437 17:30 Fl. Cl. Vln. Vcl. soli; 0 2 0 2 – 2 2 3 0; Timp. 2Perc. Hp. Str. Fanfare, Fugue and Fast Four
for Three Trumpets and Orchestra
15439 11:00 3Tpt. soli; 2 2 2 2 – 3 3 3 0; 3Perc. Elec.Gtr. Str. La Luce eterna
for Soprano and Orchestra
15443 21:00 Solo Sop.; 2 2 2 2 – 4 2 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 2Perc. Hp. Str. Oboe Concerto 10104 21:00 Solo Ob.; 1(dbl. Picc) 0 1 1 – 1 1 0 0; 1Perc. Hp. Str. Piano Concerto No. 3 15445 23:30::00 Solo Pno.; 2 2 2 2 – 5 2 3 1; 3Perc. Hp. Str. Rhapsodic Variations No. 1 15448 15:00 2(Picc.) 2(E.H.) 2(B.Cl.) 2(Cbsn.) – 2 2 2 0; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str. Rhapsodic Variations No. 3
for Oboe and Strings
15449 15:00 Ob., Str. Sonar Plexus
for Orchestra with Electric Guitar Obbligato
15453 5:30 2 0 2 0 – 4 2 3 0; Timp. 2Perc. El.Gtr. Str. Triple Concerto
for Viola, English Horn, Bass Clarinet and Orchestra
16928 23:00 Vla. E.H. B.Cl. Soli; 3(Picc.) 0 0 3(Cbsn.) – 4 2 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 2Perc. Pno.(dbl. Cel.) Hp. Str. Violin Concerto 15458 21:00 Vln. Solo; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 0; Timp. 2Perc. Str. Opera Mario and the Magician
Libretto by J.D. McClatchy, after the story by Thomas Mann
16767 70:00 1(Picc.) 1 1 1 – 1 1 1 1; 2Perc. Gt.(Acc./Elec.) Kbd.(Pno./Hpscd.) Str.(16 Players) Band / Wind Ensemble Gems From Spoon River
The music of “Burlesque Overture” is appropriately racy and sardonic, a terrific example of this genre…
A brisk and impudent work; clever, madcap and witty, with slapstick percussion and rowdy dissonance and voicing.
CELLO CONCERTO NO. 2
The “Concerto” marvelously achieves the composer’s goal of insuring that the cello is very exposed, being ‘… one of the most beautiful instruments there is.’ The work’s gorgeous opening for cello and harps is developed into a more forceful section using the entire orchestra but never forgetting the lyrical quality of the work. The second movement is a scherzo which makes effective use of pizzicato strings alternating with a serene middle section again with emphasis on the strings. The closing movement has a mournful tinge to it with interesting intertwining of strings and winds.
–Peter Knoll, The Music Connoisseur
ELEGY FOR ORCHESTRA
The work is attractive for its grace, grandeur and lucidity.
FANFARE, FUGUE AND FUNK
The piece is big in scope, powerful in effect and, unlike many works of its kind, very unified in character.
–Eric Salzman, Stereo Review
…a piece of virtuoso orchestral writing commissioned by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. Though generally tonal, it uses this format as a means to create the brazen orchestral color [Thorne] requires, the percussion given an especially major participation. The first two sections are to classical proportions before mayhem is let loose in the exciting and brilliant final Funk section…
–David Denton, Fanfare
LA LUCE ETERNA
“La Luce Eterna” is full of strong statements of alternatively tough ideas and soaring melody, demandingly yet gracefully written for the voice and glowingly, transparently orchestrated. It’s a model of what such works should be.
–New York Daily News
MARIO AND THE MAGICIAN
Mr. Thorne and his librettist, J.D. McClatchy, have deftly transferred the dark and, yes, mesmerizing essence of this story to the operatic stage without losing its subletly and innuendo. Mr. Thorne’s score is full of pungent harmony, fidgety rhythms and teeming counterpoint…the music provides an effective sense of restless motion, like unconscious forces swirling beneath a calm façade.
–Jeremy Eichler, New York Times
While watching a new opera based on Mario… I felt some inkling of the magician’s power. The music… and the libretto… were so intelligent and coherent that the steadily accumulating evidence of the magician’s abilities left me as uneasy as the members of his onstage audience… It is remarkable to come across a 70-minute opera that has such an immediate impact, particularly when based on a source as sly and ironic as Mann.
–Edward Rothstein, New York Times
PIANO CONCERTO NO. 3
Thorne’s “Third Concerto” has a certain mystery about it, like Stephen Sondheim’s Follies has, a mysterious melding of classical style and a pop medium, each of the movements a small dramatic vignette.
–Ron Emery, Albany Times Union
An unusual mixture of arching melodies and dissonant harmonies, combined with traditional musical gestures that sugarcoat the score’s complexities… the concept is a fascinating one.
–Tim Page , New York Newsday
RHAPSODIC VARIATIONS NO. 1
…knock-em-dead American orchestral style — plenty of brass and jazzy drumming keeping things going, but with a harmonic palette at the intersection of Schoenberg and bebop.
STRING QUARTET NO. 3
A quite extensive work in three movements, it possesses a fleeting return to Bartok in the scherzo, with a desolate closing passage that takes up where the late Beethoven left off.
–David Denton, Fanfare
SYMPHONY NO. 5
The long-lined slow movement is the exquisite heart of Thorne’s four-movement symphony — a noble score that reflects jazz influences in its fast movements and a fascination with Wagnerian chromatic harmonies in its slow movements.
–The New York Post
It’s a showy piece, with much bustling, high-energy syncopation, dazzling motion, color and action, with jazz inspiration unmistakable in parts. The memorable aspect is the serious singing in the slow movement, broad lines that develop warm eloquence. Thorne’s sure harmonic ear is the key to the quality of…”Symphony No. 5.”
–Robert Cammanday, San Francisco Chronicle
SYMPHONY NO. 6
This is a muscular work; its initial 5/4 motive, reminiscent of Bartok, is boldly presented… The second movement… is modeled on Mahler’s famousAdagietto from the “Fifth Symphony,” scored for the same ensemble of harp and strings… Thorne’s rising main theme, unhurried harp arpeggios and the use of solo violin passages also recall the work of the great Austrian master… altogether an extremely engaging work.
–Sean Hickey , New Music Connoisseur
The work’s three movements contain varied materials, ranging from asymmetrical rhythms and elegant solo episodes to lyrical narratives and spiky flights. Thorne’s harmonic language is a cross between American openness and European richness, and he makes deft use of slapping pizzicatos and wide melodic leaps… the symphony is economical and alive…
–Donald Rosenberg, Cleveland Plain Dealer
The violin moves with undiverted continuity through its single movement. Its contrasting major sections are connected by skillfully wrought transitions — a handsome, expressive piece.
–San Francisco Chronicle
BURLESQUE OVERTURE; RHAPSODIC VARIATIONS NO. 1; LIEBESROCK; SEVEN SET PIECES; NATURE STUDIES
CRI/New World Records (NWCR586); February 1, 2007
Performer(s): Polish National Radio Orchestra, William Strickland, conductor, Francis Thorne, piano
Work(s): Burlesque Overture
Rhapsodic Variations No. 1
Seven Set Pieces
CRI/New World Records (NWCR828); February 1, 2007
Performer(s): Boehm Quintet: Donald Stewart, clarinet and director; Springfield Symphony Orchestra; Robert Gutter, conductor; The Group for Contemporary Music String Qurartet; Catherine Rowe, soprano; Francis Thorn…
Work(s): String Quartet No. 3
FRANCIS THORNE/ NICOLAS ROUSSAKIS/ ELLIOTT CARTER
CRI/New World Records (NWCR552); February 1, 2007
Performer(s): American Composers Orchestra; Dennis Russell Davies, conductor; Paul Dunkel, conductor
Work(s): Symphony No. 5
MARIO AND THE MAGICIAN
Albany Records (TROY832); April 1, 2006
Performer(s): Center for Contemporary Opera, Richard Marshall, conductor, Justin Vickers, Larry Small, Jessica Grigg, Wendy Brown, Richard Cassell
Work(s): Mario and the Magician
LA LUCE ETERNA
Albany Records (TROY451); July 1, 2001
Performer(s): Manhattan School of Music Philharmonia; Glen Cortese, conductor; Christina Arethas, soprano
Work(s): La Luce Eterna
Rhapsodic Variations No. 7
ROBERT STARER/FRANCIS THORNE: ALBANY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Albany Records (TROY244); May 1, 1997
Performer(s): Albany Symphony Orchestra, David Alan Miller, conductor
Work(s): Symphony No. 7 “Along the Hudson”
CLEVELAND CHAMBER SYMPHONY: NEW AMERICAN MUSIC
Albany Records (TROY208); December 1, 1996
Performer(s): Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Edwin London, conductor
Work(s): Symphony No. 6
CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA/ PIANO CONCERTO NO. 3
CRI/New World Records (80443); January 1, 1994
Performer(s): Westchester Philharmonic, Paul Dunkel, conductor, Ursula Oppens, piano
Work(s): Piano Concerto No. 3
PENTANGLE FOR HORN / ELEGY / VIGIL
Louisville First Edition Recordings (LS 768); January 1, 1980
Performer(s): Louisville Orchestra, Jorge Mester, conductor
Work(s): Elegy for Orchestra
CAROM FOR ORCHESTRA AND MAGNETIC TAPE / TWO PIECES FOR ORCHESTRA / FANFARE, FUGUE AND FUNK
Opus One Recordings (No. 19); January 1, 1974
Performer(s): Springfield Symphony, Robert Gutter, conductor
Work(s): Fanfare, Fugue and Funk
THE MUSIC OF FRANCIS THORNE, VOLUME 1
Serenus Corp. (SRS 12035); January 1, 1972
Performer(s): Prague Chamber Soloists, Jindrich Rohan, conductor
Work(s): Symphony No. 3
1988: American Academy of Arts and Letters
American Academy of Arts and Letters award
3 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships
2 Ford Foundation Recording Awards
Fairleigh Dickinson University Award
ACA Laurel Leaf Award
BMI Certificate of Excellence for service to American music