Opera Scotland

Malcolm Williamson Suggest updates

Born Sydney, 21 November 1931.

Died Cambridge, 2 March 2003.

Australian composer.

Malcolm Williamson should be regarded as perhaps the first successful Australian composer of opera, although most of his adult life was spent in Britain. His initial studies in Sydney were under Eugene Goossens (1893-1962), who was director of the NSW Conservatory 1947-56. Williamson then moved to Britain to study with Elisabeth Lutyens. His lengthy catalogue of compositions covers most fields, including several symphonies, concertos and large-scale choral works, as well as musicals and music aimed specifically at children. He succeeded Sir Arthur Bliss as Master of the Queen’s Music in 1975.

The decade of the 1960s was devoted largely to the production of operas, using literary sources including Graham Greene, Edith Sitwell, Oscar Wilde and August Strindberg. Following a year after Bennett’s Mines of Sulphur, The Violins of Saint Jacques was also well received in London and on tour. It was revived, with most of the original cast, after the company moved to the Coliseum. The situation is based on the catastrophic eruption of Mont Pelée in 1902.

Operatic works performed in Scotland ar shown in bold:

01   Our Man in Havana (1963).

02   English Eccentrics (1964).

03   The Happy Prince (1965)

04   Julius Caesar Jones (1966).

05   The Violins of Saint-Jacques (London 1966) (Chappell)

06   Dunstan and the Devil (1967).

07   The Growing Castle (1968).

08   Lucky Peter’s Journey (1969).

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