Death of American Composers Orchestra founder, 94

Death of American Composers Orchestra founder, 94


norman lebrecht

March 13, 2017

A grandson of the opera encyclopaedist Gustav Kobbe, Francis Thorne composed more than 120 works including the well-known opera, Mario and the Magician.

Frustrated at the lack of opportunities for his fellow-creators, he founded the American Composers Orchestra in 1977 with conductor Dennis Russell Davies.

The ACO has premiered works by 800 US composers over 40 years.

Thorne died on March 7 in a Connecticut nursing home.


  • Tristan Willems says:

    I knew Francis since the early ’80’s when I was working for one of his publishers in NYC. We became friendly and had lunch on a frequent basis; attending many concerts and after concert parties with some of his circle (Babbitt, Carter, Rorem, Diamond, et al.) We also did some concerts together of his chamber music and cabaret songs (he was also a well respected jazz pianist). Both he and his wife, Anne were always generous, warm and encouraging. I will miss his wit, smile and genuine humanity…… Certainly a quiet giant whose music deserves a wider audience.