Thomas Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie

Thomas Erskine, 6th Earl Of Kellie

Thomas Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie

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Thomas Alexander Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie (1 September 1732 – 9 October 1781), styled Viscount Fentoun and Lord Pittenweem until 1756, was a British musician and composer whose considerable talent brought him international fame and his rakish habits notoriety, but nowadays is little known. Recent recordings of his surviving compositions have led to him being re-evaluated as one of the most important British composers of the 18th century, as well as a prime example of Scotland's music.

His mother, Janet Pitcairn, was the daughter of a celebrated physician and poet. His father Alexander Erskine, the 5th Earl of Kellie, was incarcerated in Edinburgh castle for supporting the Jacobites in the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Thomas attended the Royal High School, Edinburgh, and around 1752 left for Mannheim in Germany to study under the elder Johann Stamitz and returned to Scotland in 1756 as a virtuoso violinist and composer, nicknamed "fiddler Tam". He began propagating the modern Mannheim style, of which he was to become widely acknowledged as the leading British exponent. Six of his three-movement "Overtures" (Symphonies) were published in Edinburgh in 1761. James Boswell borrowed five guineas from Erskine on 20 October 1762, and on 26 May 1763 took him on a visit to Lord Eglinton's in London, where the overture the Earl composed for the popular pastiche The Maid of the Mill (at Covent Garden in 1765) became exceptionally popular. In 1767 the Earl returned to...
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