James Wilson

Born in London in 1922, he studied composition with Alec Rowley at the Trinity College of Music. He moved to Ireland in 1948 after wartime service in the Royal Navy, and became an Irish citizen. For many years, he was professor of composition at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and a director of the Ennis IMRO Composition Summer School. He also served as a consultant director of the Performing Rights Society and the Irish Music Rights Organisation. His works include three symphonies, numerous concerti, ballet music, song cycles, choral works and chamber music, including three string quartets. Four of his seven operas have been produced in Ireland, one, Letters to Theo (1984), on both stage and television. Another opera, Grinning at the Devil (1989), was produced in Copenhagen, where he worked extensively in writing for the theatre, both opera and incidental music. Longtime collaborator Colman Pearce conducted the premiere of Wilson’s third symphony, which is dedicated to Pearse, in the spring of 2003. Wilson was a founder-member of Aosdána, and president of the association of Irish composers. James Wilson died in 2005.

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