Everbest Virgil  (1990)

From the FILM for MUSIC for FILM series
16mm Black and White / Color
8 min

FILM DESCRIPTION (CONT.)

Piano Sonata No. 2 (1930) by Virgil Thomson
Transcribed for the film by Yvar Mikhashoff – 1990
Performed by Buffalo New Music Ensemble
Conductor:
Ferruccio Germani
Flute: Rosemary Vecere
Oboe: Paul Schlossman
Clarinet: James Perone
Percussion: Robert Schulz
Piano: Michael McCandless
Violin: Kunda Magenau
Cello: Marsha Hassett

Digitization funding provided by Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music

Everbest Virgil follows in this tradition by setting a film portrait of the composer to his self-portrait composition. In his book, On Musical Portraiture, Virgil writes, “The Second Piano Sonata is curious…Not me thinking about myself, but being myself. That’s why I couldn’t identify it as a self-portrait for many years.” I filmed Virgil in his apartment at the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan shortly before his passing. These are the final images abstracted from the life of a most treasured American composer.

Virgil Thomson composed musical portraits of many people as he viewed them from across a table. Just as an artist uses the various elements of a visual medium, Virgil would sketch personal images employing the palette of musical expression.

Everbest Virgil follows this tradition by setting a film portrait of the composer to his self-portrait composition. In his book, On Musical Portraiture, Virgil writes, “The Second Piano Sonata is curious…Not me thinking about myself, but being myself. That’s why I couldn’t identify it as a self-portrait for many years.” Shortly before his passing, I filmed Virgil in his apartment at the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan. These are the final images abstracted from the life of a most treasured American composer.

Each film in this series was created for a music score, either pre-existing or composed specifically for this project. By way of explanation, music is usually applied to films after their completion. Still, in this case, the filmic images and rhythms have been derived from the music, allowing the music to become a kind of script for the film. This project is envisioned as a lifelong endeavor in collaboration with contemporary composers.

FILM FOR MUSIC FOR FILM was premiered on April 3, 1990, at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, where all the scores were performed live with the films. This event was part of the North American New Music Festival.