Early life and education
Tommasini was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in a family of five in Malverne on Long Island, New York. At 16 years of age he won a piano competition at The Town Hall in Manhattan, performing a Mozart concerto. He graduated from Saint Paul's School in Garden City, New York.
He graduated from Yale University with a B.A., and subsequently earned both a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University. He won the 1998 Boston University School of Music Distinguished Alumni Award.
Tommasini taught music at Emerson College in Boston, and led writing workshops at Wesleyan University and Brandeis University. He was denied tenure at Emerson College since his position was eliminated by the college. In response, Tommasini turned to music criticism.
He was a freelancer, and wrote for The Boston Globe for a decade, beginning in 1986. Tommasini became a staff writer for The New York Times in 1996, and was promoted to chief classical music critic in 2000. His mentors include Virgil Thomson, the composer who was also a critic for the New York Herald Tribune, and Richard Dyer, who was the Boston Globe's classical music critic for 33 years.
Tommasini is the author of Virgil Thomson: Composer on the Aisle, which received the 1998 ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, and Opera: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Works and the Best Recordings.
Also a pianist, he made two recordings of music by Virgil Thomson for Northeastern Records, Portraits and Self-Portraits and Mostly About Love: Songs and Vocal Works. Both were funded through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.
- "The Case for New" by Susan Seligson, Bostonia, Winter–Spring 2011, pp. 22–26 (PDF facsimile)
- "NY Times' Anthony Tommasini, Director Tony Palmer Set for CCM's Richard Wagner Celebration this Month", BroadwayWorld.com, October 4, 2013
- Tommasini, Anthony (2018-11-06). The Indispensable Composers: A Personal Guide. Penguin. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-698-15013-3.
- "The Case for New" by Susan Seligson, Bostonia, Winter–Spring 2011 (web), accessed July 20, 2011
- "Virgil Thomson: Composer On The Aisle by Anthony Tommasini" by Robert Croan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 5, 1997, accessed July 20, 2011 Archived December 5, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
- Opera Quarterly: Tom Kaufman, "Anthony Tommasini: Opera: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Works and the Best Recordings," vol. 47, no. 7 (July 1996), 790, accessed July 20, 2011
- "Music of the Spheres" by Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, July 20, 2011, accessed July 20, 2011
- "Anthony Tommasini collected news and commentary". The New York Times.
- "Conveying Sounds Through Words: The Classical Music Critic's Challenge" by Anthony Tommasini. The New York Times, September 24, 2017