Critic George Gelles on Diane’s Music
A clue to the music of Diane Thome can be found in her taste for the visual arts. Strikingly, a note about these pieces arrives on a card that displays Joan Miro’s “Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers,” one of the miraculous Constellations from the early 1940s. Miro shows a self-contained universe, resonant with mythic symbol, profuse in image and incident, subtle in its sure sense of balance and order, yet despite these aspects of rigorous intellect, almost hedonistic in its ample and evident delight in creation.
Much the same can be said about Diane Thome’s music. Listening to this collection which provides an aural snapshot of her work over a span of 18 years, you are struck, first of all, by their consistency of voice. Over the course of a generation that has turned the teachings of the academy on its head — stylistic conformity has been replaced by a Babel of voices — Ms. Thome has stayed true to her ideals. Now as then, her works spring from a rich soil of poetic imagery found in words and in artifacts alike; now as then, they display a compositional sophistication that is generous in acknowledging other music yet unswerving in its own integrity; now as then, they concern themselves less with meeting an audience on its own level than in raising it to hers…
—from Palaces of Memory, Centaur label CD 2229,1995
Having composed music with synthesized sound for more than a quarter century — her first pieces in the medium date from the 1970s — Diane Thome has created a corpus of uncommon distinction. The reference works tell you that Ms. Thome is the first woman to write computer-synthesized music, but this information is of secondary import. Of primary significance is that Ms. Thome writes a music that is intensely poetical, impeccably crafted, and elevated in artistic purpose. It weds compositional probity with a lyrical imagination that is stimulated by – and that in turn further evokes – a richness of literary and visual metaphor. To respond to this music’s attractiveness and allure is rewarding, but it is doubly rewarding to accept its implicit invitation to let the imagination range more widely still…
—from BrightAir/Brilliant Fire, Centaur label CD 2527, 2001
Former Executive Director of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, George Gelles was music and dance critic for the Washington Star from 1970 to 1976 and Contributing Editor of the Britannica Book of Music. He has contributed numerous articles to the New Grove Dictionary and has written extensively on music and dance subjects for The New York Times, Musical America, Ovation, and other publications.