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William Walter Beaton Moonie
|William Walter Beaton||Moonie|
Opera and lyrical music
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- Reverie (1910)
- Coquette (1921)
- Arabesque (1923)
- Perthshire Echoes (1924)
- An lorram (Rowing song) arrangement
- Highland Sketch book: Country of Caberfeidch and The Land of the Stag
- Dances of the Ghillies (also for piano duet)
- The Fiery Cross
- Five Romantic Sketches from a Scottish Chap-book
- The Goblin’ Ha from a Scottish Chap-book 2
- Improvisation no 1 on Fhear a Bhata
- In a quiet strath
- The kind gallows of Crieth from Scottish Chap-book
- Song of Speyside, 10 picturesque Scottish pices
- Suite no. 2
- Two tone pictures: Twilight on the water and Fireside Story
- Variations on La Belle Francaise
- Fantasy March on a melody by General Reid
- Leery-light-the lamps
- Overture Innisgal arrangement
- Ballet from Pan, An Idyll
- Sonata no 2 in D minor
- Six voluntaries
- Chorale and Allegro
- Air from Stratherick (1928)
- Piano Trio in D
- Piano Quintet no. 1 (missing)
- Piano Quintet no. 2
Violin and piano
- Highland Suite no. 1 (1921)
- Burns Suite no. 1
- Song of the Gloaming, also for cello and paino and piano trio
- Suite of three Highland melodies
- Danse de rhapsodie
- Moto perpetuo
- Scottish Dances
Cello and piano
- Rhapsody (Concertstuck)
- Balo, my boy
- Braes of Balquidder
- Busk ye, busk ye
- Silent, oh Moyle
- Stewart’s College Song (1924)
- There was ald was born in Kyle
- Ye banks and braes
- Cadil gu lo
- Te Deum with organ
- Song of Rowland (missing)
- O come to me the auld Scotch sangs
- Woodland Scene
- Lords of the Main for four voices and piano
- Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond
- A wet sheet and a flowing sea
- O come with me (1923)
- A shepherd’s love (1926)
- Bonnie Lesley (1927)
- The Gypsy Man (1927)
- The Gypsy Girl (1927)
- Pibroch of Donuil Dhu (1928)
- Scottish Song sets 1 and 2 (1928–1930)
- Eilean a’Cheo
- Proud Maisie
- Reverie, also arranged for piano and for piano quintet
- Sing, O my heart
- The Woodlands
- At Dawn of May
- All else above
- Song of the west wind
- The Rose Tree
- Glide gentle streams
- Six love lyrics
- Nora’s vow
- The Pool of Columeille
- Edward, Edward
- Jack O’Hazeldean
- When the kye comes home
Chorus and orchestra
- Caledonia, a partriotic ode (1910)
- The ship, a choral epilogue (1931)
- Two short ballads (1933)
- Masque: William Dunbar
- Campbell of Kilmohr
- The Weird of Colbar
- Lucy Ashton (unfinished)
Voice and orchestra
- Allen-a Dale, version also with piano accompnaiment
- King James’s serenade voice with string orchestra
- Alcestis, incidental music
- Innigael incidental music (probably missing)
- Land of Heather suite
- Prelude and Fugue for string orchestra
- Film score The man behind the 45
- Piano Concerto
- Variations on a Scottish Melody Op 4 for string orchestra
- Cromer Suite
- Overture: Lord of the Isles
- Deeside Suite (formerly Symphony)
- O gin my love for string orchestra
- Riders of the Sea
- 1745, A Concert Overture
- Symphony in A flat
- Springtime on Tweed
- Burns Suite (probably lost)
- Four Highland Airs
- Highland Division, grand march
- Perthshire Echoes
- Perthshire Echoes
- 48 Scottish folk song arrangements
William Walter Beaton Moonie
by Dr. David C.F. Wright
There is a danger that Edinburgh composer, William Walter Beaton Moonie, will only be remembered, if remembered at all, by his many works based on Scottish melodies, but he wrote three operas, a piano concerto, a symphony, an organ sonata, a piano trio, a piano quintet and many songs.
He was born prematurely at a Station Master’s House in Stobo, Peebleshire while the family were on holiday. His father, James A. Moonie was a musical teacher in Edinburgh who married Clementina Greenaway who was a secretary in Edinburgh. He founded what was to become known as Mr. Moonie’s Choir in 1896 which choir brightened the city of Edinburgh. He had three brothers, John, James and Charles and a sister Esme. None had any musical ability as such, but James helped his brother with the choir.
William was born on 29 May 1883 and, as a boy, enjoyed seeing Paderewski and Patti perform in his home city before stepping out into the gas-lit George Street for a horse drawn cab. W.B., as he was known to his fanmily and many friends, achieved his Bachelor of Music in Edinburgh in 1902 having studied with professor Niecks and winning a Bucher scholarship to study in Frankfurt from 1905 with Professor Iwann Knorr (1853–1916) whose other pupils included Pfitzner, Toch and the English composers Roger Quilter, Cyril Scott, Balfour Gardiner and Norman O’Neill, known as the Frankfurt group. William’s other teachers in Germany were Uzielli for piano and Rehberg. Moonie returned to Scotland in 1908 and began to teach at Daniel Stewart School, where had been a pupil himself. He also undertook some further study with Tovey and it was Tovey who put on the first professional performances of Moonie’s work. One of Moonie’s most popular works, Springtime on Tweed, is a tone poem written in honour of the Stobo district where he was born. W.B. said of Tovey that he was a remarkable musical genius whom Scotland did not really appreciate. Moonie had a teaching appointment at the Edinburgh Provincial training College at Moray House. During the war Moonie served with the Cameronians in a non-combative role. In 1919 he had a teaching appointment at George Herriott School and later at Watson’s College and then Queen Street Ladies’s College. On the death of his father in 1923, W.B. took over his father’s choir with performances of Messiah, Judas Macabbaeus, Coleridge Taylor’s Hiawatha, Verdi’s Requiem and Franck’s Beatitudes and many other works including masses set in Latin. He also conducted the Edinburgh Catholic Choir for ten years which included performances in the Usher hall. The Second World War took a toll on choir membership and in 1948 he had to abandon his choir. In 1945 he was awarded a doctorate in music from Edinburgh, and, from 1948, taught music at Dean College and this was probably singing as it was a training school for hurses.
He met and was known by many other musicians including Francis George Scott, Ian Whyte and Erik Chisholm, who was a very generous, large-hearted and modest man. It was he who was the driving force behind the production of Moonie’s opera the Weird of Colbar in 1937. It was a labour of love for W B taking about ten years to compose. Chisholm said to Moonie on one occasion, “If you want to make your name, don’t attempt it in Scotland. Work abroad first, then you’ll be accepted as a success.” In 1930 a radio station in Toronto broadcast his Deeside Suite although it was originally called a symphony.
As well as a musician, William Moonie was a voracious reader with a tremendous memory and had never considered anything but a musical career. When he was only seven he has composed a Denner March to accompany the family coming to the dinner table.
He married Janet Glegg in 1924 who was born in 1896. She was a very beautiful woman and an artist of great talent who exhibited her watercolours frequently at the Royal Scottish Academy. They had two children Alan Graham born 23 May 1925, who died in August 2008, and Annot Lyle, born 20 June 1929, who married William Lightheart, who was also a music teacher and an organist in Hawick. He died in 1969.
Moonie did not have any political or religious views. He was not a smoker and only a moderate drinker. He was not a sporty type, although he enjoyed golf and hill walking. He loved the music of Chopin and the works of Anton Bruckner for their spiritual grandeur.
As we have seen, throughout his life, W.B. was a teacher of singing and piano, both privately and in schools, an organist and choirmaster. He was the organist at the Grange Parish Church, now known as Marchment St Giles. He was always in demand as a after-dinner speaker particularly on Burns’ night.
He was also appointed as a music examiner for the London College in 1945 which took him south of the border to many English locations.
Moonie’s ancestors came from County Cork in Ireland and his grandfather was known as the Bandmaster of County Cork. William had an Irish sense of humour and he would cause people to double up with laughter at his incredible wit. He was very popular among people but he did envy the success of other composers like Cedric Thorpe Davie when all his efforts to promote his own work were not very successful and his strong letters did not help. Incidentally, in Ireland the surname would have been spelt Mooney but the Scots way is Moonie.
He composed a lot of music and his Perthshire Echoes is possibly his most well-known and admired piece. There are versions of this suite for piano, wind septet and for orchestra.
His orchestral overture Lord Of the Isles shows an excellent command of the orchestra and is a very attractive piece on the same level as Hamish MacCunn’s Land of the Mountain and the Flood of 1897.
He many many arrangements of Scottish songs with excellent harmonies and wrote some exquisite original songs including a setting of Pittendriech MacGillivray’s O Come with Me published by Bruce, Clements & Co in Edinburgh in 1923, and Songs of the Caravan to words by W.F. Paul published in 1927. In 1928 he set the Highland Rallying Song, Pibroch of Donuil Dhu, to words by Sir Walter Scott for voice and orchestra. The piano reduction of the orchestral part calls for a fine pianist.
There is no doubt that he was admired and loved in Scotland for ahis fine musicianship. He could have taken Chisholm‛s advice and gone abroad and made his name, but he was true to Scotland and served his country as well as anyone could.
He was adverse to contemporary music and commented that there was no music in rock’n’roll and that music must have melody, such as is found in Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Rimsky Korsakov. Of English composers of his day, W.B. preferred Delius.
He had his first stroke in 1959 which resulted in losing the use of his left arm and hand.
He died on 8 December 1961, and his widow died in February 1977.
Charles O’Brien’s obituary referred to W.B. excelling as a composer of originality and imagination.