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THORNE--Francis Burritt Jr.,

died peacefully at the age of 94 on March 7, 2017, at Geer Nursing and Rehab in Canaan, CT. A grandson of music critic Gustav Kobbe (author of "The Complete Opera Book"), he was born June 23, 1922, in Bay Shore, NY, and educated at the Browning School, New York City, Pomfret School, Pomfret, CT, and Yale University where he majored in Music Theory. He married Ann Chauncey Cobb, December 9, 1942, and served as a U.S. Naval officer during World War II. After working on Wall Street for ten years, Duke Ellington heard him play piano which led, in 1955, to engagements at the Hickory House and Upstairs at the Downstairs. In 1958, he moved his family to Florence, Italy, and studied composition with David Diamond. In 1964, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra premiered his first orchestral work, "Elegy for Orchestra." His compositions consist of over 120 works, including a one-act opera "Mario and the Magician" (libretto by J.D. McClatchy). Championing work of emerging composers, he founded American Composers Orchestra in 1977, which has premiered works of over 800 American composers. In 1988 he was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and to the Century Association; he served on the music committees of both. Board Member: MacDowell Colony; Manhattan School of Music; Composers Recordings, Inc; American Music Center; American Brass Quintet; Group for Contemporary Music; American Composers Alliance. Music Panels: New York State Council for the Arts; Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). Awards: National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship; Ford Foundation Recording Awards; Fairleigh Dickinson University Award; ACA Laurel Leaf Award; BMI Certificate of Excellence for Service to American Music. Residencies: American Academy in Rome; Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Cabrillo Festival; Harvard University; Connecticut College; New Hampshire Music Festival. Music: Merion Music (Theodore Presser Co.); C.F. Peters and General Music. Recordings: New World Records; CRI; Louisville and Serenus. He is survived by a brother, Oakleigh; daughters Bo Thorne Niles, Wendy Thorne Forsyth, and Candace Thorne Canton; four grandsons; and five great- grandchildren. He personally mentored, sponsored, educated and touched the lives of hundreds of composers, musicians and audiences with generosity and compassion. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to American Composers Orchestra, Attn: Francis Thorne Fund, 244 West 54th Street, Suite 805, New York, NY 10019.

Published in The New York Times on Mar. 12, 2017
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