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Donald Francis Tovey

The theory and practice of music.

Sir Donald Francis Tovey (1875-1940) was Reid Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh and a brilliant musicologist and composer.

Tovey was privately educated by music teacher Miss Sophie Weisse (1851-1945) and then at Balliol College Oxford. The young Tovey soon achieved fame as a pianist, scholar, composer and organiser of concerts in Britain and in Europe. This brought into contact with many of the major music figures of the day, with whom he corresponded extensively and who held him in high regard. He was appointed to the Reid Chair of Music at the University of Edinburgh in 1914, in succession to Frederick Niecks, and held the Chair until his death. During his tenure his output of compositions and research publications continued unabated. His opera "The Bride of Dionysius" was produced in Edinburgh in 1929, and his "Cello Concerto" was performed and recorded by Pablo Casals. He created the University's professional Reid Orchestra which brought together orchestral performers from the worlds of the University and professional music. He was knighted in 1935.

He bequeathed to the University his substantial library of printed and manuscript scores and books on music, and a later brought a substantial archive of his correspondence and papers to join them. There are some outstanding items in the collection such as the manuscript of “The Edinburgh Symphony” by Julius Röntgen. The books are arranged alphabetically by composer and are catalogued online up to M (Tov.856).

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Donald Tovey's collection of printed scores is fully catalogued on DiscoverEd. If you would like to browse them, select 'Advanced Search', then search for Tov in the 'Subject' and select Scores in the 'Material Type' drop down menu.

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There are also over 20 metres of archival material, ranging from notes and drafts of lectures to accounts and administrative material, drafts of broadcasts to photographs and diaries, and cuttings and reviews. There is also extensive correspondence between Tovey and Weisse, and other leading musical figures. The correspondence is catalogued online.