Thomson writes like an angel or at any rate like the slightly malicious cherub he now resembles . . .
—Wilfred Mellers, 1967
The decades between 1930 and 1960 were good ones for classical music in the United States. Recitals, chamber music, orchestral performances, opera, choral and band concerts were all more or less part of popular culture. Eugene Ormandy was the conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Serge Koussevitzky of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Arturo Toscanini of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, which regularly broadcast its performances over national radio. Along with canonical works, these orchestras performed and showed real enthusiasm for new music by Gershwin, Ives, Harris, Copland, Antheil, Piston, and Sessions.
While musical performance was lively and varied, the journalism that it...