Hamish MacCunn lived from 22 March 1868 to 2 August 1916. He was a Scottish romantic composer. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Hamish MacCunn was born in Greenock, the son of a wealthy shipowner. He showed considerable talent as a musician as a child and at the age of 15 won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London. During his four years there, his teachers included Hubert Parry and Charles Villiers Stanford. After completing his studies, MacCunn turned his hand to teaching. Between 1888 and 1894 he held a post as a professor at the Royal College of Music.
Meanwhile, he was also composing. MacCunn's first success was with The Land of the Mountain and the Flood which was performed in 1887 at the Crystal Palace. His subsequent works were very popular at the time and said to show a strongly Scottish character. Two of Hamish MacCunn's operas, Jeanie Deans and Diarmid, were produced with moderate success, the latter being performed at Covent Garden in 1897. MacCunn went on to become conductor of the Carl Rosa Opera company for some years. During his musical career, he also composed cantatas, overtures, songs and instrumental works, and was known as a champion of Scottish music.
In 1888, MacCunn married Alison Pettie, the daughter of the artist John Pettie, RA. The two had met while Hamish MacCunn was sitting for a portrait. They subsequently had one son. Hamish MacCunn died in London in 1916 at the age of just 48.