Opera Scotland

John More Smieton Suggest updates

Born Broughty Ferry, 21 June 1857.

Died Broughty Ferry, 13 July 1904.

Scottish industrialist and composer.

John More Smieton developed an excellent reputation as a composer, though the time available for his musical activities was limited by his managerial commitments with the family business. 

He was a member of a prosperous dynasty of jute manufacturers (with a mill in Carnoustie and office in Dundee), and studied music privately in Dundee before continuing (perhaps privately) under Professor Sir Herbert Stanley Oakeley of Edinburgh University. Further study followed in Manchester (under Horton Allison) and London (Frederick Bridge and Sir Frederic Cowen). However the early death of his father in 1886 obliged him to work running their business in partnership with his brother.

He composed songs and piano solos as well as choral settings, a string quartet and an orchestral overture. He produced no symphonies, concertos or operas. The Dramatic Cantata form was extremely popular in late Victorian times, examples including Sullivan (The Martyr of AntiochThe Golden Legend), Mackenzie (The Rose of Sharon) and Elgar (Caractacus, King Olaf). Smieton had one early attempt as a ten year-old, and as a mature composer produced one with a text by his mother (performed privately), followed by three, all to libretti by his brother James. These are Ariadne (1884), King Arthur (1889) and Connla (1900). It was King Arthur that enjoyed particular success, receiving 100 performances around the UK by the time of the composer's death.

It should be noted that Broughty Ferry was still a separate and extremely prosperous community at this time. It was only formally absorbed into the city of Dundee in 1908.

Dramatic Cantatas - those performed in Scotland are shown in bold:

01   Unnamed (c1867 unperf) (nk)

02   Pearl (Broughty Ferry 1880, privately) (Jane Smieton)

03   Ariadne, op9 (Broughty Ferry 1884)(James Smieton)

04   King Arthur, op15 (Broughty Ferry 1888 private; 1889 public) (James Smieton)

05   Connla, op25 (1896; Dundee 1900) (James Smieton)

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2019

Site by SiteBuddha