Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916): A Musical Life
Hamish MacCunn’s career unfolded amidst the restructuring of British musical culture and the rewriting of the Western European political landscape. Having risen to fame in the late 1880s with a string of Scottish works, MacCunn further highlighted his Caledonian background by cultivating a Scottish artistic persona that defined him throughout his life. His attempts to broaden his appeal ultimately failed. This, along with his difficult personality and a series of poor professional choices, led to the slow demise of what began as a promising career.
As the first comprehensive study of MacCunn’s life, the book illustrates how social and cultural situations as well as his personal relationships influenced his career. While his fierce loyalty to his friends endeared him to influential people who helped him throughout his career, his refusal of his Royal College of Music degree and his failure to complete early commissions assured him a difficult path. Drawing upon primary resources, Oates traces the development of MacCunn’s music chronologically, juxtaposing his Scottish and more cosmopolitan compositions within a discussion of his life and other professional activities. This picture of MacCunn and his music reveals on the one hand a talented composer who played a role in establishing national identity in British music and, on the other, a man who unwittingly sabotaged his own career.