Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

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Wilson, Thomas (i)

(?bap. Durham, 15 Feb 1618; d after 1647). English organist and composer. He became a chorister at Durham Cathedral sometime between August 1627 and September 1630, receiving payment for this post up to 29 September 1634. When on 12 November 1635 John Cosin, Prebendary of Durham, established the post of college organist at Peterhouse, Cambridge, he made Wilson its first incumbent. Wilson received payment in this post from December 1635 to January 1643 and is identified by name in one of the chapel part-books and in chapel accounts for 25 October 1642. The organ was dismantled on 29 April 1643 and it is likely that this, together with the abolition of services and Cosin’s ejection from the mastership, prompted Wilson to return to Durham where, described as ‘Musices professor’, he married Margaret Colpots on 25 May 1648. Wilson was at the centre of Cosin’s musical innovations at Peterhouse; in the late 1630s he contributed to funds for both the chapel building and the organ, but most of his contribution would have been musical, as the accounts show great activity in the acquisition and copying of music for the newly-formed chapel choir. Despite its variety his music is rather dull and four-square.


Ky, Cr (Lat.), 4vv, GB-Cp

San, 4vv, Cu

2 Evening Services, 4vv, Cp

Ven, 4vv, 1636, Festal ps, Cp

Lit (Lat.), 4vv, Cp [?by H. Molle]

10 full anthems, 4, 5vv (5 inc.), 2 verse anthems (1 inc.), Cp, DRc; 1 ed. in Hughes


A. Hughes: Catalogue of the Musical Manuscripts at Peterhouse, Cambridge (Cambridge, 1953)

B. Crosby: The Choral Foundation of Durham Cathedral, c1350–c1650 (diss., U. of Durham, 1993)

I. Payne: The Provision and Practice of Sacred Music at Cambridge Colleges and Selected Cathedrals, c1547–c1646 (New York, 1993)


Wilson, Thomas (Brendan) (ii)

(b Trinidad, CO, 10 Oct 1927). Scottish composer. Born to British parents in the USA, he moved with his family to Scotland while still young. He studied at the University of Glasgow (1948–53) with Ernest Bullock and Frederick Rimmer, and then at the RCM (1954) with Herbert Howells. In 1957 he became a lecturer in the extra-mural department at the University of Glasgow, where he was appointed reader in music in 1971, titular professor in 1977 and Emeritus professor in 1982. He was awarded the CBE in 1990 and an honorary DMus from the University of Glasgow in 1991.

The change of focus Wilson's music underwent in the 1960s and 70s may be appreciated through a comparison of the Third and Fourth String Quartets, written respectively in 1958 and 1978. The Third Quartet, contrapuntally sophisticated and Expressionistic in tone, is in three movements with the entire quartet growing out of the opening theme. The later work, less pervasively contrapuntal, is cast in a single movement with greater flexibility between its five distinct sections. Wilson has since adopted a variety of approaches to writing single movement forms with such works as the orchestral piece Introit (1982) and the Violin Concerto (1993). Since his first completely serial piece, the Violin Sonata (1961), his works have espoused a flexible approach to 12-note composition. His music is marked by its attention to instrumental colour and clarity of expression.


(selective list)

Stage: The Charcoal Burner (radio op, E. Morgan), 1968, BBC, 16 March 1969; Embers of Glencoe (ballet), perc, 1973; The Confessions of a Justified Sinner (op, 3, J. Currie, after J. Hogg), 1974, York, Theatre Royal, 15 June 1976

Orch: Pas de Quoi, str, 1964; Sym. no.2, 1965; Touchstone, 1967; Sinfonietta, brass band, 1967; Ritornelli per archi, str, 1972; Refrains and Cadenzas, brass band, 1973; Sym. no.3, 1979; Mosaics, fl + a fl, hpd, synth, str, 1981; Introit, 1982; Pf Conc., 1985; St Kentigern Suite, str, 1986; Va Conc., 1987; Sym. no.4 ‘Passeleth Tapestry’, 1988; Vn Conc., 1993

Choral: Missa pro mundo conturbato, vv, 2 perc, hp, str, 1970; Sequentiae Passionis, vv, orch, tape, 1971; Te Deum, vv, orch 1971; Ubi Caritas Et Amor TTBarBarB, 1976; Amor Christi, vv, orch, 1989

Solo Vocal: Six Scots Songs, 1v, pf, 1962; Carmina sacra, high v, hp, str, 1964; One Foot in Eden, Mez, ens, 1977; The Willow Branches (7 Songs from the Chinese), 1v, orch, 1983

Chbr and solo inst: Sonatina, pf, 1956; Str Qt no.3, 1958; Sonata, vn, pf, 1961; Sonata, pf, 1964; 3 Pieces, pf, 1964; Pf Trio, 1966; Soliloquy, gui, 1969; Coplas del Ruisenor, gui, 1972; Str Qt no.4, 1978; Incunabula, pf, 1983; Chbr Conc., fl, cl, hn, tpt, trbn, 2 perc, pf, vn, vc, 1986; Chbr Sym., fl, ob, cl + b cl, bn, 2 hn, tpt, 2 vn, va, vc, db, 1990

Principal publisher: Queensgate Music


C. Thorpe Davie: Scotland's Music (Edinburgh, 1980)

J.M. Geddes: ‘Thomas Wilson: Profile’, Composer, no.80 (1983), 14–20


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