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MUSA 18—Virgil Thomson: Four Saints in Three Acts

Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock and Charles Fussell

With music by Virgil Thomson and a libretto by Gertrude Stein, Four Saints in Three Acts was completed in 1928 but waited almost six years for its first performances. After a week’s run in Hartford, Connecticut, in February 1934, it moved to New York where--with some sixty performances in six weeks--it became the longest-running opera that Broadway up to that time had experienced.

This critical edition by H. Wiley Hitchcock and Charles Fussell features the scenario by Maurice Grosser and is based on the full score that Thomson commissioned from copyist Ben Weber for his 1947-48 revision; it includes the 32-measure orchestral prelude to the Act II "Dance of the Angels," and it makes comparisons primarily to the manuscript scores held at the Library of Congress and Yale University. The critical apparatus applies as much to the music as to the Stein text, the principal source for which is the 1929 first publication.


Swayne, Steve. Review of Four Saints in Three Acts, by Virgil Thomson. Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock and Charles Fussell. Journal of the Society for American Music 8, no. 1 (2014): 101-103.