Thomas Wilson (composer)

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Dr Thomas Wilson CBE FRSE (10 October 1927 – 12 June 2001) was a Scottish composer of classical music.

Order of the British Empire British order of chivalry

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Scotland Country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, with a border with England to the southeast, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.



Thomas Brendan Wilson was born in Trinidad, Colorado, USA, to British parents, and moved to Britain with his family when he was 17 months old.

Trinidad, Colorado Town in Colorado, United States

Trinidad is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Las Animas County, Colorado, United States. The population was 9,096 as of the 2010 census, up slightly from 9,078 in 2000. The estimate as of 2018 was 8,211. Trinidad lies 21 mi (34 km) north of Raton, New Mexico, and 195 mi (314 km) south of Denver. Trinidad is situated on the historic Santa Fe Trail.

The family settled in the Glasgow area where he lived and worked for the remainder of his life. Thomas Wilson was educated in Glasgow before taking an undergraduate course at St. Mary’s College, Aberdeen. He then studied Music at Glasgow University where he continued as a postgraduate, receiving a doctorate (DMus).

Glasgow City and council area in Scotland

Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland, and the third most populous city in the United Kingdom, as of the 2017 estimated city population of 621,020. Historically part of Lanarkshire, the city now forms the Glasgow City council area, one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the local authority is Glasgow City Council. Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde in the country's West Central Lowlands. It is the fifth most visited city in the UK.

Aberdeen City and council area in Scotland

Aberdeen is a city in northeast Scotland. It is Scotland's third most populous city, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom's 39th most populous built-up area, with an official population estimate of 196,670 for the city of Aberdeen and 228,800 for the local council area.

He served in the RAF from 1945 to 1948, and subsequently read Music at the University of Glasgow.

Royal Air Force Aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.

Music form of art using sound and silence

Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.

University of Glasgow university located in Glasgow, Scotland, founded in 1451

The University of Glasgow is a public research university in Glasgow, Scotland. Founded by papal bull in 1451, it is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's four ancient universities. Along with the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and St Andrews, the university was part of the Scottish Enlightenment during the 18th century.


Thomas Brendan Wilson said that he not only wanted to be a composer, he said that he had to be one. There was an inner compulsion - he felt as though he had no choice in the matter. One of the first honours graduates in music from Glasgow University, Wilson became a lecturer at his alma mater in 1957. He was later appointed a Reader (1971) and given a Personal Chair in 1977. He consistently played an active part in the musical life of the UK, holding executive and advisory positions in such organisations as the Scottish Arts Council, The New Music Group of Scotland, The Society for the Promotion of New Music, The Composers' Guild of Great Britain (Chairman 1986-89) now the British Association of Composers and Songwriters, and The Scottish Society of Composers (of which he was a founder member).

Scottish Arts Council

The Scottish Arts Council was a Scottish public body responsible for the funding, development and promotion of the arts in Scotland. The Council primarily distributed funding from the Scottish Government as well as National Lottery funds received via the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The Society for the Promotion of New Music (SPNM), originally named The Committee for the Promotion of New Music, was founded January 1943 in London by Francis Chagrin, to promote the creation and performance of new music by young and unestablished composers. Since 1993 it had awarded the annual Butterworth Prize for Composition. In 2008, it merged with three other networks to form Sound and Music.

His works have been played all over the world and embrace all forms - orchestral, choral-orchestral, chamber-orchestral, opera, ballet, brass band, vocal music of different kinds, and works for a wide variety of chamber ensembles and solo instruments. Wilson completed five symphonies, the fourth of which, Passeleth Tapestry, was premiered by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Bryden Thomson on 6 August 1988 in Paisley Abbey. [1] He also completed several concertos and choral works. His largest work was an opera, Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1972–75), commissioned by Scottish Opera and based on the novel by James Hogg.

Royal Scottish National Orchestra Scotlands national symphony orchestra based in Glasgow

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) is an international Scottish orchestra, based in Glasgow at its own music centre and rehearsal studios directly connected to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall at the top of Buchanan Street. The RSNO receives support from the Scottish Government. The RSNO performs throughout Scotland, at such venues as Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Usher Hall (Edinburgh), Caird Hall (Dundee), Aberdeen Music Hall, Perth Concert Hall or Eden Court Inverness. Thomas Søndergård is the orchestra's current music director, since 2018.

Bryden Thomson Scottish conductor

Bryden Thomson was a Scottish conductor remembered especially for his championship of British and Scandinavian composers. His recordings include influential surveys of the orchestral music of Hamilton Harty and Arnold Bax. He was principal conductor of several British orchestras, including the Ulster Orchestra, which flourished under his tenure.

Paisley Abbey Church in Renfrewshire, Scotland

Paisley Abbey is a parish church of the Church of Scotland, located on the east bank of the White Cart Water in the centre of the town of Paisley, Renfrewshire, about 12 miles (19 km) west of Glasgow, in Scotland. Its origins date from the 12th century, based on a former Cluniac monastery. Following the Reformation in the 16th century, it became a Church of Scotland parish kirk.

Wilson was awarded the CBE in 1990. The following year he was awarded an honorary DMus Degree from Glasgow University and created a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The 80th anniversary of Thomas Wilson's birth on 10 October 1927 was marked by a performance of the composer's St Kentigern Suite on 17 January 2008 by the RSAMD Chamber Orchestra, and by a performance of the composer's Violin Concerto also in January 2008 by the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

A biography co-written by David Griffith and Margaret Wilson and edited by Prof. Karl Gwiasda has been completed and published in 2011 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of his death. The music critic, Michael Tumelty recently described Wilson in the Glasgow Herald (12/02/2011) as "a gently magisterial composer and one of the wisest and most philosophical musicians I have met".


Orchestral works

Choral works

A Cappella Masses



Brass band



Chamber works


Incidental Music


Works which have been recorded include:


A biography [2] of Thomas Wilson written by his widow, Margaret Wilson, and David Griffith was published by Queensgate Music in August 2011.

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  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Thomas Wilson: Introit - Towards the Light eBook: David Griffith, Margaret Wilson: Kindle Store". Retrieved 12 June 2012.