Virgil Thomson

A musician on painters

“The painter’s whole morality consists of keeping his brushes clean and getting up in the morning. He wakes up with the light, tosses till the sun is overhead, then gets up and starts moving around. He works moving around. Drawing, engraving, and water-color sketching can be done seated. But oil painting must be done on foot, walking back and forth. It entails no inconsiderable amount of mild physical exercise and that among turpentine fumes, which keeps the lungs open. Hence your painter is on the whole a healthy and cheerful man. His besetting maladies are digestive, due to poverty, irregular meals, and undernourishment. He requires a lot of food. In middle and later life he sometimes has rheumatism. But he is seldom too ill to paint.

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Clues to a life

Greenwood Books on East Avenue (near the RPO Box office) is slowly selling off about eight thousand books formerly owned by the late composer David Diamond. The books, mostly about music, are on a shelf near the entrance, facing the door. I’ve bought two so far, and the cool thing about them is that Diamond wrote in his books, reacting to what he was reading.

For example, in The State of Music, critic and composer Virgil Thomson writes about the lifestyles of musicians:

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