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Composer Diane Thome, Acoustic/Electroacoustic music, Princeton PhD, Professor Emerita, University of Washington, Gender bias, Sri Aurobindo/Integral yoga

Palaces of Memory
American Composer Diane Thome on her Life and Music
by Diane Thome

Palaces of Memory is the story of a pioneer in the music world – the first woman to graduate from Princeton University with a PhD in Music and the first woman to compose computer-synthesized music. Much has been written about Dr. Thome, now professor emerita and former chair of the composition program at the University of Washington School of Music. But this is Diane Thome’s highly personal story about her lifelong journey in music. 

In this inspiring memoir, Dr. Thome describes her studies with many famous teachers including Dorothy Taubman, Robert Strassburg, Milton Babbitt, Roy Harris, Alexander Boscovich, and Darius Milhaud. She writes of a consuming need to compose and explore new directions in her music. She also writes with deep affection and candor about her many friends and great loves. 

Diane Thome’s music has been described as “high modernist … searching, intense, and full of integrity.” Much the same can be said of her life as it unfolds in Palaces of Memory.

"Diane Thome's memoir is a heartfelt traversal of her unique life journey. In our time of heightened reflection on what makes creative people “tick," Diane's insights from the vantage point of her own long-established career as an artist and educator make this important as well as moving reading. Yet, even if she were not someone of such notable achievements, including her significant body of musical works, the intimate poignancy and direct writing style of this self-portrait would deeply touch all who read it."

Richard Karpen is a prominent composer, researcher, and teacher in the field of digital arts. He is currently director of the School of Music, University of Washington.

Diane Thome photo

Over a long and highly-successful career as a composer and professor, Diane Thome has produced a rich body of chamber, choral, orchestral, electronic, and solo music, which has been performed around the world. Thome’s honors include the 1994 Washington Composer of the Year, the Solomon Katz Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, and a 1998 International Computer Music Conference Commission. Other commissions include those from the Bremerton Symphony Association, Seattle Symphony, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Philharmonia Orchestra, The Eleusis Consortium, and Trimpin. In addition to earning a PhD in Music, she holds a Masters in theory and composition from the University of Pennsylvania and two undergraduate degrees with distinction in piano and composition from the Eastman School of Music. She currently resides in Seattle.


Diane Thome

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