Skip to main content

Tovey, Sir Donald Francis, 1875-1940 (Reid Professor of Music, University of Edinburgh)



  • Existence: 1875 - 1940


Donald Francis Tovey was born at Eton on 17 July 1875. His father was an Assistant Master at Eton College. He was educated privately by the music and general teacher Miss Sophie Weisse (1851-1945) and later on studied under Sir Walter Parratt (1841-1924) and Sir C. H. Parry (1848-1918). Tovey then won a music scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, graduating with a BA, Classical honours, in 1898. As a pianist, a series of chamber music concerts followed in London, Berlin and Vienna where he played with Halle, Joachim, Hausmann, Casals, and other artists. He also composed. In 1914 he was appointed to the Reid Chair of Music at Edinburgh University in succession to Professor Niecks (1845-1924). As Professor he broadened the music curriculum by instituting classes in musical interpretation, orchestration, history and analysis, thorough-bass, score reading, and advanced counter-point and composition. Tovey also established and conducted the Reid Orchestra and organised an annual series of concerts. His musical compositions were in many forms including chamber music, symphony, grand opera and concerto, and probably the most famous was his opera The bride of Dionysus produced in Edinburgh in 1929. His literary publications include the six volumes of Essays in musical analysis (1935-1939), and A musician talks (1941). Tovey was knighted in 1935. Sir Donald Francis Tovey died on 10 July 1940.

Found in 2127 Collections and/or Records:

Card to Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan from Miss. Wallace, c 29 December 1914

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2569
Scope and Contents

Card, 29 December [n.y], Miss. Wallace to Robert and Elizabeth Trevelyan. Inviting the Trevelyan's to a celebration on the occasion of the forthcoming marriage between Clara Wallace and Donald Francis Tovey. Typescript.

Dates: c 29 December 1914

Envelope with clippings of obituaries for two of Joachim's friends: Sir Donald Tovey and Mrs Edward Speyer, 12 July 1940; October 1939

Identifier: Coll-1711/3/8
Scope and Contents From the Series:

This series comprises newspaper clippings in German and in English dating from 1874 to 1989, on various subjects and events relating to Joachim such as celebrations in his honour, Jubilee concerts, obituaries after his death, anniversary events, etc.

Dates: Majority of material found within 12 July 1940; October 1939

Letter ( post script) to Sophie Weisse from Sir Donald Francis Tovey, c1922

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L670
Scope and Contents

Letter ( post script), [1922], Canstatt, Donald Tovey to Sophie Weisse. Description of a production of Salome and a Roger concert, and news of Swoboda. Holograph signed, post-script of L669.

Dates: c1922

Letter to 'a Professor ' from Sir Hugh Percy Allen, 17 January 1943

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2002
Scope and Contents

Letter, 17 January 1943, Oxford, Hugh Allen to ' a Professor '. Regret that the recipient will not join the Tovey memorial committee, and a discussion of Tovey's written works. Holograph signed.

Dates: 17 January 1943

Letter to 'a Professor' from Sir Hugh Percy Allen, c 04 January 1940

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2001
Scope and Contents

Letter, 4 January [n.y], Chichester, Hugh Allen to 'a Professor'. Inviting the recipient to join the committee of the Tovey memorial fund. Holograph signed.

Dates: c 04 January 1940

Letter to Adolf Busch from Sir Donald Francis Tovey, c1900

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L20
Scope and Contents

Letter, [n.d], Sir Donald Francis Tovey to Adolf Busch. Discussion of string quartet variations in B Opus II, working methods and the loneliness of the profession. Ms. transcript by Hubert Foss.

Dates: c1900

Letter to Albert Schweitzer from Sir Donald Francis Tovey, c1935

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L136
Scope and Contents

Letter, 1935, Suffolk, Sir Donald Francis Tovey to Albert Schweitzer. Discussions of Tovey's speech with Casals and Schweitzer and informing Schweitzer that Tovey has received a knighthood. Holograph signed, photocopy.

Dates: c1935

Letter to Albert Schweitzer from Sir Donald Francis Tovey, 01 June 1928

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L130
Scope and Contents

Letter, June 1928, Sir Donald Francis Tovey to Albert Schweitzer. Discussing plans to give Schweitzer an honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh. Holograph signed, photocopy.

Dates: 01 June 1928

Letter to Albert Schweitzer from Sir Donald Francis Tovey, 13 August 1929

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L131
Scope and Contents

Letter, 13 August 1928, Suffolk, Sir Donald Francis Tovey to Albert Schweitzer. Informing Schweitzer that Tovey plans to dedicate his ' Kunst der Fugue' to him. Holograph signed, photocopy.

Dates: 13 August 1929

Letter to Albert Schweitzer from Sir Donald Francis Tovey, 09 April 1929

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L132
Scope and Contents

Letter, 9 April 1929, Edinburgh, Sir Donald Francis Tovey to Albert Schweitzer. Covering letter for the score of "The Bride of Dionysus". Holograph signed, photocopy.

Dates: 09 April 1929