29 August 2019, The Tablet

Scottish Renaissance man


Scottish Renaissance man
 

A Scots Song: A Life of Music
JAMES MacMILLAN
(BIRLINN, 96 PP, £7.99)
Tablet bookshop price £7.19 • Tel 020 7799 4064

The two indefinite articles in the title, the absence of first-person pronouns or qualifiers, and a preference for “of” instead of “in”, all give clues to the modesty, but not the profundity, of Sir James MacMillan’s (pictured) first essay in autobiography.

In fewer that 100 pages, MacMillan delivers what is essentially an extended programme note, something to be read alongside his ­sixtieth birthday retrospectives on BBC?Radio 3 and at the Edinburgh Festival, where I am sure it will have sold like hot cakes. And yet there is something expansive and infinitely generous in his account of teachers like John Casken, of contemporaries and collaborators, of the older composers he has championed as conductor, of poet Michael Symmons Roberts, percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who premiered his still-astonishing Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, and Mstislav Rostropovich, for whom he wrote a cello concerto.

Get Instant Access

Continue Reading


Register for free to read this article in full


Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £21.50 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login