Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 May 2020
How you continue to create works of such exquisite purity
and vocal clarity I shall never understand!
How good it is to see that gentleness has
not disappeared from the world.
Having officially retired from Harvard, Thompson was now free to travel abroad to his much-loved Gstaad whenever he desired, almost always adding stays in London, Paris, and occasionally Rome. He and Margaret were often joined by some of their grown children and in later years by their grandchildren during ski season, and Margaret continued to enjoy regular trips to Paris to visit its famous couturiers. In 1970 the Thompsons, always renters or guests at the Park Hotel in Gstaad, purchased a châlet of their own, Les Trois Ours (The Three Bears), utilizing funds from the sale of their Saunderstown house.
Freedom from teaching duties permitted Randall to accept conducting and speaking engagements, his very lifeblood, that were now offered with increasing frequency. When in Cambridge he and Margaret maintained a bustling social schedule, together enjoying cocktails and dining with friends or Randall visiting his various clubs. He continued to attend Harvard concerts and to fulfill those commissions that interested him while rejecting or ignoring an increasing number that didn’t.
In his first decade of retirement he composed choral works at the rate of approximately one per year, after which the pace slowed considerably. These include: A Psalm of Thanksgiving for the New England Conservatory (1966-67: RT 95); String Quartet no. 2 in G major for the Harvard Musical Association (1967: RT 96); The Place of the Blest for the Choir School of Saint Thomas Church in New York City (1968-69: RT 97); The Eternal Dove for his friend and colleague G. Wallace Woodworth (1968: RT 98); Katie's Dance for his granddaughter (1969: RT 99); Wedding Music for the Rome marriage of his son Randall Thompson, Jr. to Delia M. C. Hayes (1971: RT 100); Two Herbert Settings (RT 101, the first in 1970 in memory of granddaughter Katie and the second in 1971 undedicated); A Hymn for Scholars and Pupils in honor of the tenth anniversary of the restoration and reorganization of Wykeham Rise School in Washington, Connecticut dedicated to Elisabeth and Carleton Sprague Smith (1973: RT 102);