25. Thomas Erskine – 6th Earl of Kellie [365 Composers for 2013]


25th January – Thomas Erskine – 6th Earl of Kellie


Thomas Erskine (1st September 1732 ‚Äď 9th October 1781)¬†is our composer for 25th January, to celebrate Burn’s Night
Nationality: Scottish
Lifespan: 49 years
Genre: Classical
Education: with private tutors in Mannheim
Fame Ranking: 5

Thomas Erskine, the Sixth Earl of Kellie, was a contemporary of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet and lyricist after whom “Burn’s Night” is named, and hence our choice of composers for today. Erskine is considered by some to be a musical genius, and it is certain that he devoted himself to the subject.¬†

Erskine travelled to Germany in his youth, where he studied composition and violin with Stamitz with much seriousness. On his return to Edinburgh, however, Erskine began to spend a considerable amount of time frequenting drinking houses and unfortunately gained a reputation for being something of a “rake” (a¬†fashionable or wealthy man of dissolute or promiscuous habits). Despite this, he produced many compositions, often almost spontaneously, and gave away many manuscripts freely. Much of his music is assumed lost.

Erskine wrote in the Classical style and favoured the symphony, although other types of composition also survive. One writer says of him “Loudness, rapidity, enthusiasm, announced the Earl of Kellie. His harmonies are acknowledged to be accurate and ingenious,”(1)

Erskine died young, not surprisingly, given his lifestyle. 


Here is Erskine’s Trio Sonata no.4 in G major::

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(1) http://www.electricscotland.com/history/other/erskine_ta.htm


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