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Alexander Mackenzie

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Sir Alexander Campbell Mackenzie (22 August 1847 – 28 April 1935) was a Scottish composer best known for his oratorios, violin and piano pieces and works for the stage.

Mackenzie was the son of an eminent Edinburgh violinist and conductor. On the advice of a member of Gungls band who had taken up his residence in Edinburgh, Mackenzie was sent for his musical education to Sondershausen, Germany, where he entered the conservatorium under Ulrich and Stein, remaining there from 1857 to 1861, when he entered the ducal orchestra as a violinist. At this time he made Liszt’s acquaintance.

On his return to Edinburgh in 1865, he won the King’s Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, London, and studied with Prosper Sainton (violin), Charles Lucas (composition) and Frederick Jewson (piano). He then established himself as a teacher of the piano in Edinburgh. He also performed as a violinist, taking part in Chappells quartette concerts and starting a set of classical concerts.

Mackenzie was appointed precentor of St. George’s Church in 1870, and conductor of the Scottish vocal music association in 1873, at the same time undertaking a prodigious amount of teaching. He kept in touch with his old friends by playing in the orchestras of the Birmingham Festivals from 1864 to 1873. The most important compositions of this period of Mackenzie’s life were the Quartette in E flat for piano and strings, and an overture, Cervantes, which owed its first performance to the encouragement and help of the pianist Hans von Bülow.

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