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American composer Francis Thorne was born in Bay Shore, New York, on 23 June 1922. His grandfather was an opera critic and his father was a ragtime pianist. Francis Thorne studied with Paul Hindemith at Yale, served in the US Navy in World War II, then, after a spell on Wall Street, returned to music as a jazz pianist. He continued his composition studies in Florence with David Diamond, who encouraged Thorne to build jazz into his orchestral work. Of Thorne's over a hundred compositions, many have a jazz flavour, and he was one of the first 'classical' composers to write for the electric guitar and electric bass guitar.
Thorne's first opera, Fortuna, received its first performance in 1961 in New York City, and his Elegy for orchestra was performed by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1964.
In addition to his own work, Francis Thorne helped many other composers get commissions and performances. He was director of the Walter W Naumberg Foundation and the Thorne Music Foundation, and in 1977, with Dennis Russell Davies, founded the American Composers Orchestra.
Francis Thorne died in Canaan, Connecticut on 7 March 2017, aged ninety-four.