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William Wallace

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Not to be confused with the Irish Romantic-era composer William Vincent Wallace

William Wallace (3 July 1860 - 16 December 1940) was a Scottish classical composer.

Born at Greenock, he studied ophthalmology at the University of Glasgow, and in Vienna and Paris becoming a qualified ophthalmic surgeon, before deciding to study music at the Royal Academy in London in 1889.

Wallace was greatly influenced by Liszt, and was an early (though not the first) composer of symphonic poems in Britain. His compositions include the symphonic poem, Sir William Wallace (1905; based on his namesake, the freedom fighter William Wallace, one of Scotland’s national heroes), a cantata, The Massacre of the Macphersons, and an overture, In Praise of Scottish Poesie (1894). He also wrote a Creation Symphony (1899), influenced by numerology.

He also wrote several books on music, including The Musical Faculty (1914), The Threshold of Music (1908) and biographies on Wagner and Liszt. He was secretary of the Royal Philharmonic Society from 1911 to 1913, during which time the society received its royal appointment. He later served as Dean of the Faculty of Music in the University of London.

During the First World War he served as inspector of ophthalmic units in Eastern Command, at the rank of Captain.

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