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Thomas Wilson

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

Thomas Brendan Wilson was born in Trinidad, Colorado, USA, to British parents, but moved to Scotland with his family when he was 17 months old. They settled in the Glasgow area where he lived and worked for the remainder of his life. Thomas Wilson was educated at St. Mary’s College, Aberdeen. He served in the RAF from 1945 to 1948, and subsequently read Music at the University of Glasgow.

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).

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. 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.

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".

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