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Sir John Blackwood McEwen

Biography of Sir John Blackwood McEwen

Sir John Blackwood  McEwen
Sir John Blackwood McEwen

Sir John Blackwood McEwen (1868-1948) was a University graduate who became an influential teacher and a renowned composer of classical music. He donated his manuscripts to the University in 1947 and founded the McEwen Bequest to encourage the performance of music by Scottish composers.

Born in Hawick, McEwen graduated with an MA from the University in 1888 and then studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 1895 was appointed Choirmaster of South Parish Church in Greenock, while teaching at the Athenaeum School of Music in Glasgow. In 1898 he returned to the Royal Academy of Music as Professor of Harmony and Composition and he was Principal there from 1924 until 1936. He is recognised as one of the leading Scottish composers of the 20th century and his most famous work is the Solway Symphony.

McEwan was knighted in 1931. He was awarded an honorary LLD by the University in 1933.

Sir John Blacklock McEwen bequeathed the residue of his estate to the University of Glasgow to help promote performance of chamber music by composers of Scottish birth and descent. Other composers resident in Scotland for a substantial period have also benefited from the fund. In fulfilment of the terms of the bequest the University Court commissions annually a piece of chamber music for not more than five players and every three years a work for larger forces.


Sir John Blackwood McEwen

Born 13 April 1868.
Died 24 June 1948.
University Link: Benefactor, Graduate
GU Degree: MA, 1888;
Occupation categories: composers; musicians
View Major Archive Collection Record
Additional Information: R3/1/1 (vol 2)
Record last updated: 18th Dec 2014

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Posted by Susan Garnsworthy at 15:00:43 on 21 June 2012

It was really very good to hear the Solway Symphony played this morning on Radio 3 as the Olympic Torch was carried from Dumfries to Gretna. I am no fan of this event but if it can be used to play little known Scottish music - Great.