This collection consists of nearly 60 digital recordings of music composed by William James Thornton Jr. Approximately 30 recordings also have corresponding printable digitized scores available in PDF form.
William James Thornton Jr. (1919-1996) earned a bachelor’s degree (1941) and master of music degree (1948) from Louisiana State University. From 1942-1946 Thornton served in the United States Air Force Special Services, touring the South Pacific as music director and composing over 180 compositions and musicals. The script of Gen. Clerk of the U.S. Army (c.1945) is the only manuscript to have survived from this period, according to a handwritten note in the collection that details that he burned most of them because of his desire to be considered a ‘serious’ composer.
After his PhD from the University of Southern California, Thornton held many appointments as a music educator before landing at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where he spent the majority of his professional career. In 1980, he earned the prestigious title of Professor Emeritus at Trinity University and after his retirement in 1988, he accepted a lecturer position in music composition at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Thornton was a prolific composer and created works for a wide range of mediums including film, musicals, and one electronic piece title ‘Water Tower Music’ for Electro-Magnetic Tape (1984). He has received numerous awards including first prize in the 1945 National Federation of Music Clubs Young Composers Contest for his Sonatina for Violin and Piano (1944), the Performance Award of the Symposium of Western Composers, and the Carolyn Alchin Award to study composition with Pulitzer Prize-winner Roger Sessions.
The William J. Thornton Papers (1939-1998) consist primarily of manuscripts, acetate record discs, and cassette and reel-to-reel audio and video tape recordings. Recordings and a selection of corresponding scores have been digitized and are available as the William J. Thornton Music Collection in this Louisiana Digital Library collection.