Tovey, Sir Donald (Francis)

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Tovey, Sir Donald (Francis)

Tovey, Sir Donald (Francis), eminent English music scholar, pianist, and composer; b. Eton, July 17, 1875; d. Edinburgh, July 10, 1940. He studied privately with Sophie Weisse (piano), Parratt (counterpoint), and James Higgs and Parry (composition) until 1894, when he won the Nettleship scholarship at Balliol Coll., Oxford. He graduated with Classical Honors (B.A., 1898). In 1894 he appeared as a pianist with Joachim, and subsequently performed regularly with his quartet. In 1900-01 he gave a series of chamber music concerts in London, at which he performed several of his own works. In 1901-02 he gave similar concerts in Berlin and Vienna, and then was an active participant in the concerts of the Chelsea Town Hall and of the Classical Concert Soc. In 1914 he succeeded Niecks as Reid Prof, of music at the Univ. of Edinburgh. He founded the Reid Orch. in 1917. He made his U.S. debut as a pianist in 1925; presented a series of concerts with renowned guest artists in Edinburgh in 1927-28. In 1935 he was knighted. Though highly esteemed as a composer, he was most widely known as a writer and lecturer on music, his analytical essays being models of their kind. Besides much chamber music and several piano pieces (a sonata, Balliol Dances for 4-Hands, etc.), he composed an opera, The Bride of Dionysus (1907-18; Edinburgh, April 23, 1929), Piano Concerto (1903), Sym. (1913), Cello Concerto (Edinburgh, Nov. 22, 1934, Casals soloist, composer conducting); etc.


(all publ. in London)A Companion to the Art of the Fugue (1931); Essays in Musical Analysis (6 vols., 1935-39); with G. Parratt, Walter Parratt: Master of Music (1941); A Musician Talks (1941); H. Foss, ed., Essays in Musical Analysis: Chamber Music (1944); idem, ed., Musical Articles from the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1944); idem, ed., Beethoven (1944); A Companion to Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas (1948); H. Foss, ed., Essays and Lectures on Music (1949).


M. Grierson, D.F. T. (London, 1952).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire