MacCunn, Hamish



Dramatic composer, who is important among Scottish musicians. Was born at Greenock. His musical abilities were early apparent and he began to study when only six. In 1883, when the National Training School at South Kensington opened as the Royal College of Music, he won a scholarship for composition. Here he studied under Sir Hubert Parry. His first overture entitled, Cior Mhor, was performed at the Crystal Palace in 1885, and two years later the overture, The Land of the Mountain and the Flood, brought out by Sir August Manns, received wide notice. The following year the young composer produced his first cantata, Lord Ullin's Daughter, a ballad for chorus and orchestra, and for a commission from the Glasgow Choral Union he composed the cantata, entitled The Lay of the Last Minstrel; In 1889 he was married to a daughter of John Pettie, R. A. From 1888 to 1894 he was professor of harmony at the Royal Academy of Music, and in 1892 he became conductor of the Hampstead Conservatory Orchestral Society. In 1894 his opera, Jeanie Deans, based on Scott's Heart of Midlothian, was given by the Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company in Edinburgh, and after a successful tour through the provinces appeared in London in 1896 and was exceedingly well received. In 1898 MacCunn became conductor of this company and for some years directed their performances. He has had much experience in this work and was the conductor under whom the first English production of Wagner's later works were given. On the death of Sir Arthur Sullivan he took his place at the Savoy Theatre during the engagements of Merrie England and A Princess of Kensington. As a composer his work shows great merit and a high degree of individuality, being strongly Scottish in character. His list of compositions is large and creditable and contains the following: Operas, Jeanie Deans; Dairmid; The Masque of War and Peace; and The Golden Girl. Orchestral compositions are The Land of the Mountain and The Flood; Highland Memories; the Dowie Dens o* Yarrow; and The Ship of the Fiend. Other works are a number of songs and part-songs; Scotch dances for piano; and The Eighth Psalm for chorus and organ. He also wrote the following ballads and cantatas: Bonnie Kilmeny; The Lay of the Last Minstrel; Lord Ullin's Daughter; Queen Hynde of Caledon; The Death of Parry Reed; The Wreck of the Hesperus; and The Cameronian's Dream.