The life and work of (George John) Learmont Drysdale (1866-1909)

Harris, Moira Ann (2006) The life and work of (George John) Learmont Drysdale (1866-1909). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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George John Learmont Drysdale (1866-1909) was a prolific composer who enjoyed considerable success in his time. Born and brought up in Edinburgh, he trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London before returning to Scotland to earn his living as a composer, conductor and teacher. His sudden death in 1909, at the age of 42, occurred just as he was reaching the peak of his creativity. Although respected by many leading musical figures of his time, poor self-promotion and a corresponding lack of published work led to his music falling into obscurity. Today, Drysdale and his works are visually unknown. Despite the fact that the majority of Drysdale's compositions survive (albeit in manuscript) and considerable documentation concerning him is extant, there is neither an objective account of his life and work, nor an accurate list of his works This situation is remedied by the present study which is divided into two main sections. The first establishes a biography drawn almost entirely from primary source material and includes an examination of the promotion of Drysdale's work by his sister and others following his death. The second deals with Drysdale's compositions, beginning with a general survey of his oeuvre, before discussing each genre - orchestral and instrumental pieces, vocal music and theatrical works - in turn. This generic approach places Drysdale's works in their historical and biographical contexts, isolates stylistic models from both contemporary and previous generations of composers, and examines more general trends in his music. Numerous musical illustrations are provided to illuminate his compositional style, while insight into the reception of his music is drawn from contemporary press reports and correspondence. The lack of an accurate and comprehensive survey of Drysdale's compositions is addressed in Appendix I. This exhaustive catalogue of works includes the location of autograph sources, dates of composition and, where appropriate, the date and place of first performance. By drawing on unpublished primary sources and publications written during Drysdale's life, this thesis provides an objective evaluation of the character and worth of this forgotten Scottish composer.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts
Supervisor's Name: Campbell, Dr. Stuart
Date of Award: 2006
Depositing User: Leigh Bunton
Unique ID: glathesis:2006-75110
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2019 08:58
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2019 08:58
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.75110

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