Francis Thorne's music has always had a healthy respect for the vernacular, both popular song and jazz. Born in Bay Shore, New York in 1922 into a musical family (his grandfather was Gustave Kobbé who is best known for Kobbé's Opera Book), he started picking out tunes when he was five years old. By the age of nine he was entertaining his parents' dinner guests.
His first formal training took place under Paul Hindemith at Yale University. After college came three-and-a-half years in the Navy during World War II, followed by nine years on Wall Street. All this time he kept up his jazz piano which brought him in contact with Duke Ellington whose personal recommendation led to a two-year stint as jazz pianist at Manhattan's Hickory House - his first professional job as a musician. His return to the world of music reactivated his desire to compose, which brought him to David Diamond and two years of private study with him in Florence, Italy. Shortly thereafter his Elegy for Orchestra was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy conducting three subscription concerts in November, 1964. The review in the Philadelphia Bulletin described the work as "progressing with an unmistakable refinement of feeling and scoring. It is deeply felt and effective."
With the success of the Elegy, Thorne returned to New York where he has lived ever since. His catalogue now comprises over 100 pieces, including symphonies, concerti, string quartets, a series of "Lyric Variations" and ""Rhapsodic Variations" as well as other chamber music, choral music and songs. His works have been performed by some of the finest soloists and ensembles of our time.
In addition to his very active composing career, Thorne has played a major role in music administration. The principal founder of American Composers Orchestra, of which he has been both President and CEO, he has helped to commission and perform works by numerous other composers. He has been President/Treasurer of the Thorne Music Fund as well as Executive Director of Music Theatre Group, the Naumburg Foundation, and American Composers Alliance. He has served on the Boards of Composers Recordings, Inc., American Music Center, the Virgil Thomson Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony, among several others. A member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters, for which he has been Treasurer and has sat on the Music Committee, Thorne's own music is published by Merion Music, Inc. (BMI) and distributed by Theodore Presser Company.
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