Opera Scotland

Hamish MacCunn Suggest updates

Born Greenock, 22 March 1868.

Died London, 2 August 1916.

Scottish conductor, composer and teacher.

Hamish MacCunn came from a wealthy background of Greenock shipowners, and studied composition at the Royal College of Music in London under Parry and Stanford.

Although he lived in London for the rest of his life, most of his music is inspired by Scottish themes. He had very early success as a composer, his concert overture The Land of the Mountain and the Flood, op3, making a great impact at its launch at a Crystal Palace Saturday concert in 1887. The Carl Rosa company commissioned, and premiered, two operas, Jeanie Deans, a great popular success at its Edinburgh première (1894) and Diarmuid, launched at Covent Garden in 1897, which was rather less successful..

As a conductor, he worked with Carl Rosa, D'Oyly Carte, Moody-Manners, and with the Beecham company at Covent Garden. One notable landmark in his career was to conduct the first English-language performance of Tristan, in 1898. During his years at the Savoy he led the première of Merrie England in 1902. He taught both at the Royal Academy of Music and at the Guildhall.

The portrait shown below is by one of the most successful Scottish artists of the late Victorian era, John Pettie (1839-1893). He was a leading member of the Scott Lauder group, as well as being MacCunn's father-in-law.

Operas performed in Scotland are shown in bold:

01   Jeanie Deans (Edinburgh 1894) (Bennett)

02   Diarmid (London 1897) (Campbell)

03   The Golden Girl (Birmingham 1905) (Hood) (lost)

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