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Portrait of Hamish MacCunn, 1889, by John Pettie
|Birth name||Hamish MacCunn|
|Born||22 March 1868|
|Died||2 August 1916|
Life and works
He was born in Greenock. His father was a shipowner. He soon showed a great talent for music. In 1883 he got a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music, which had only just been founded. His teachers there included Sir Hubert Parry and Sir Charles Villiers Stanford.
MacCunn composed several orchestral works as well as operas, but he had to spend more and more time conducting in order to earn money. For a time he conducted the Carl Rosa Opera Company. He conducted Wagner’s opera Siegfried and the first performance in English of Tristan and Isolde.
In 1887 he conducted his overture The Land of the Mountain and the Flood at the Crystal Palace. This was a very successful piece, and it remains the only composition of his which is still often performed. The music has a Scottish feeling and sounds quite similar to the music of Mendelssohn. Although he composed other pieces which were similar in mood, none of them were as successful as this one.
In 1888, he married Alison Pettie, daughter of the painter John Pettie who had painted MacCunn's portrait several times. They had one son. John Pettie liked music and helped MacCunn in his career by organizing concerts of his music.
He died aged only 48.