Obituary: composer and American Composers Orchestra founder Francis Thorne, 94

Posted on: March 13, 2017

An unsigned obituary in Sunday’s (3/12) New York Times reports that Francis Burritt Thorne Jr. died on March 7, 2017 in Canaan, CT. “A grandson of music critic Gustav Kobbe (author of ‘The Complete Opera Book’), he was born June 23, 1922, in Bay Shore, NY, and educated … at Yale University where he majored in Music Theory. He married Ann Chauncey Cobb, December 9, 1942, and served as a U.S. Naval officer during World War II. After working on Wall Street for ten years, Duke Ellington heard him play piano which led, in 1955, to engagements at the Hickory House and Upstairs at the Downstairs. In 1958, he moved his family to Florence, Italy, and studied composition with David Diamond. In 1964, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra premiered his first orchestral work, ‘Elegy for Orchestra.’ His compositions consist of over 120 works, including a one-act opera ‘Mario and the Magician’ (libretto by J.D. McClatchy). Championing work of emerging composers, he founded American Composers Orchestra in 1977, which has premiered works of over 800 American composers. In 1988 he was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and to the Century Association; he served on the music committees of both.”

Posted March 13, 2017