The ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards program recognizes books, articles and recording liner notes on the subject of music selected for their excellence. The Awards were established in 1967 to honor the memory of composer, critic and commentator Deems Taylor, who died in 1966 after a distinguished career that included six years as President of ASCAP. The Awards were renamed in 2014 to also honor the memory of Virgil Thomson (1896 – 1989), one of the leading American composers and critics of the 20th Century, and a former member of the ASCAP board of directors.
About Deems Taylor
Deems Taylor (1885 – 1966) served as ASCAP President from 1942 to 1948 and as a member of the ASCAP Board of Directors from 1933 to 1966. He was not only a highly regarded composer of concert music and operas (his works include Through the Looking Glass, The Siren Song, Peter Ibbetson and The King’s Henchman), but a distinguished music critic, journalist, commentator and broadcast personality. During his long career, Deems Taylor wrote for such publications as The New York Tribune, The New York World, The New York American and Musical America, and authored such books as The Well-Tempered Listener, Of Men and Music and Music to My Ears. He was the memorable narrator of the animated Disney classic, Fantasia, and served as the commentator for radio broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera.
About Virgil Thomson
Virgil Thomson (1896 – 1989) was a many-faceted American composer of great originality and a music critic of singular brilliance. Born in Kansas City, Thomson studied at Harvard. After a prolonged period in Paris where he studied with Nadia Boulanger and met Cocteau, Stravinsky and Satie, he returned to the United States where he was chief music critic for the New York Herald Tribune. Virgil Thomson composed in almost every genre of music, utilizing a style marked by sharp wit and overt playfulness. Among his most famous works are the operas Four Saints in Three Acts and The Mother of Us All (both with texts by Gertrude Stein), and film scores for The Plow That Broke the Plains, The River and Louisiana Story. In addition to his compositions, he was the author of eight books, including an autobiography. Among his many accolades are the Pulitzer Prize, the gold medal for music from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Kennedy Center Honors, and 20 honorary doctorates. Thomson served on ASCAP’s Board of Directors from 1975 to 1982.