Alexander Mackenzie

August 18, 2010

Alexander Mackenzie

Alexander Campbell Mackenzie was born in Edinburgh on 22 Aug 1847.

He came from a musical family – his father was the conductor of the Orchestra at the Theatre Royal Edinburgh, and Mackenzie was playing violin in it aged 8 years old – and was sent to Germany’s Sondershausen Conservatory (1857 – 62) to continue his education. In 1862 he won the King’s scholarship in 1862 to the Royal Academy of Music.

By 1865 he was back in Edinburgh and he began teaching at local colleges. He done this for several years until 1879 when he went to Florence, Italy staying there till 1888, when he was awarded the position of Principal at the RAM, a post he held till 1924.

His music merges Scottish themes with German Romanticism. He is regarded as the founder of the Renaissance of classical music in England, together with the younger duo Irishman Charles Villiers Stanford and Englishman Hubert Parry. (Stanford regarded Parry as the first English composer of note since Henry Purcell who died in 1695.)

Mackenzie was the most senior of the three, the first to be knighted for his contribution to music in 1895 (Stanford was knighted in 1902, Parry was not knighted but was given the lower ranks of a Knights Bachelor in 1898 and then a baronet in 1902).

Where Mackenzie led, others followed. Elgar followed his example and held him in high regard, he noted Mackenzie’s ‘masterly orchestration’ and said of him : ‘Here was a man fully equipped in every department of musical knowledge.’

Alexander Mackenzie died in 1935, 28 April.

Several of his works are available :-

His Violin Concerto and Pibroch Suite :
His Orchestral music :
His Britannia :
His Scottish Concerto :
Various Piano works by Murray McLachlan :
Piano Quartet :
His String Quartet in G :