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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: May 2020

Chapter XVII - The Final Years (1975-84)


Composer of beautiful, immortal music applauded and

cherished by audiences throughout the world.

(Julius Adams Stratton Prize citation)

Thank you for coming. Thank you for being

Randall Thompson. Thank you for

becoming our friend. We

will never forget you.

(Carl A. Lambert)


With Randall at home recovering from his stroke, Margaret flew from Kennedy Airport to Paris on October 2, 1975, and in the following days visited Giverny before going to London on the 7th to attend a number of theater productions. On the 19th she flew to Paris for fittings and by early November was back in Cambridge.

Meanwhile Randall was well enough by November 11th to resume occasional visits to several of his Boston clubs, where he enjoyed camaraderie and intellectual stimulation. In December he travelled to his first post-stroke conducting engagement, this in Lincoln, Nebraska at the First-Plymouth Congregational Church where Jack Levick was organist and choirmaster. Anticipating a return to what he loved, Thompson wrote:

I am so looking forward to being with you all and having the experience of doing the Nativity together, arm in arm, and heart to heart. Please give my special greetings to all concerned. I think we shall have a wonderful expe¬rience, and I shall do my utmost to make it so….when it comes to music, I know no fatigue, Faithfully, Randall Thompson.

While there, at a Sunday service he conducted the Plymouth Choir and the Nebraska Wesleyan University Choir in his Alleluia and Frostiana (nos. 1 and 6) among other pieces. Levick conducted performances of The Nativity on the evenings of December 12 and 13, 1975 before Thompson returned to Boston via United Airlines on the 14th. Almost immediately he was involved in rehearsals for the Tavern Club's December 18th production of Promotion, Oh Promotion (RT 105; play by Daniel Sargent) for which he wrote four brief numbers: a march and three songs.

In January 1976, growing in strength, he travelled to Cleveland for a concert at the Epworth-Euclid Church.

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