Thomas Suárez — concert violinist, composer, author, historical researcher, and lecturer — is a native of New York residing permanently in London.
A former member of the Baltimore and American Symphony Orchestras, his professional violinist life has brought him to all four continents and the Pacific islands. He has held principal positions with the ballet orchestra at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, with the Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi in Italy, has frequently toured Japan, was artist-in-residence at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, and is a former faculty member of Palestine’s National Conservatory of Music in Jerusalem.
Suárez was a violin student of Ivan Galamian, and has worked extensively with Felix Galimir, Josef Gingold, Louise Behrend, three members of the Budapest String Quartet, and studied music analysis and composition with the composer Hugh Aitken.
In 1970 he was selected by Radiotelevisione Italiana as one of two subjects for a film from Luciano Berio’s series, C’è Musica e Musica (1972). In 1966, then fifteen and a scholarship student at Juilliard, Suárez was Shinichi Suzuki’s subject for a public lesson at New York’s New School upon the pedagogue’s first trip to the United States to demonstrate his now-global teaching method, then poorly known outside of Japan.
As a composer, the first public performances of his compositions were a Fantasy for violin, at Carnegie Recital Hall, with him playing the solo part; and a “subtly colored and intriguingly paced” (Honolulu Star Bulletin) Nocturne for small orchestra, which earned him public recognition by the Honolulu governor.
More recently, his Peregrinations for string quartet was a finalist in the International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition, now followed by a sonata for violin and piano, Quattro Età.
Recently, he brought to light six sonatas for violin and basso continuo by the 18th century Italian composer Antonio Duni, the sole recorded surviving copy held at the National Library in Moscow, where the composer had lived for eight years. Though indefinitely delayed by COVID19, he has been working to bring these to performance.
Suárez writes and lectures frequently on the issue of Palestine. His principal book on the subject — the second of three — has been praised by the celebrated Israeli historian Ilan Pappé as “A tour de force, based on diligent archival research ... the first comprehensive and structured analysis of the violence and terror employed by the Zionist movement and later the state of Israel against the people of Palestine”.
Publishers Weekly described it as “an impressive display of historical excavation"; Arab Studies Quarterly considered it an “essential source for researchers on this issue”; and CounterCurrents judged that “it belongs in the top 5 most invaluable books on the history of modern Palestine”. The 418-page book has been translated into French and Arabic.
He is the author of many articles on Palestine, documentary photos and videos, and has given numerous talks on the subject in the UK, including at the House of Lords, and in the United States, including at Columbia University, as well as in France, Belgium, and Jerusalem.
Despite recognition that his work is “not a polemic” (as the magazine Tribune put it), Suárez has come under sustained attack by ideological interests inconvenienced by the research. In 2017, the House of Lords conducted a formal investigation of complaints against him and dismissed them as altogether unfounded (HL Paper 142).
Two years later, the UK’s Independent Press Standards Organisation ruled that Suárez’ work had been egregiously and repeatedly misrepresented, and required offending media to print corrections (IPSO 03222-18).
Noted as well for his research into the history of cartography, Suárez is the author of three major works on the subject, and his 1999 book on the early mapping of Southeast Asia remains the standard text on the subject.
As reviewed by Andrew S. Cook of the British Library, it is “a stimulating work, and the Southeast Asian perspective it gives on European geographers' gropings for knowledge at the periphery of their world is fresh and revealing. I thoroughly recommend it to discerning readers".
The Map Librarian of Yale University summed it up as “a truly valuable book” that “exceeded all my expectations”. It is complemented by a similar book on the mapping of the Pacific Ocean, and an earlier volume on the mapping of America and the world.
Among his chapters in edited academic volumes are his “Early Portuguese Mapping of Siam”, “Genesis of the American West: The Cortes Map”, and a new, expanded Introduction to Quirino's classic Philippine Cartography.
He has shed new light on arcane aspects of early 16th century cartography — in particular regarding Finaeus, Ruysch, Hogenberg, and the Ptolemaic Southeast Asian landbridge — and has lectured on the subject at the US Library of Congress, New York Public Library, and the Miami Historical Museum.
He is currently assisting a project, at the request of the Spanish Embassy in Jakarta, to produce a book about Spain’s presence in Indonesia in the 15th and 16th centuries.
In fiction, his early novella, The Crustacean Codex, wove motifs of history, music, exploration, and physics into a “provocative view of life” (—Honolulu Star Bulletin). Provisionally, his full-length novel, Viol Player of Cattigara, set in Southeast Asia ca. 1000 AD, will be published in 2021.