Welcome to the Erik Chisholm web site. The Erik Chisholm Trust established in 2001 is working hard to achieve recognition of his dramatic influence on British music in the 1930s and beyond. Above all its aim is to "let his music be heard". These pages tell you more about the man and his music. The Trust welcomes interest and support in reviving his music.

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Biography Links

  • Portrait of Erik Chisholm

    Erik Chisholm (1904 - 1965)

  • Picture of Erik with daughter Shelia

    Erik with daughter Shelia

  • Picture of Erik Chisholm at Nigara Falls

    Erik at Niagara Falls

  • Picture of Erik conducting in Moscow

    Erik conducting in Moscow

Biography of Erik Chisholm

Chasing A Restless Muse

Chisholm’s astonishing legacy as composer and entrepreneur has never been properly presented, never mind assessed. Published by Boydell and Brewer, the biography by the author of 'Scotland’s Music' is the first full study of the man and his music.

Erik Chisholm was a musician of rare capabilities. He was a pianist and organist, a conductor, a composer, a lecturer on music, an entrepreneur and administrator and to all these he brought a unique blend of originality, flair and energy. After an early start as a performing pianist, Chisholm established himself in Glasgow as an important influence on the progress of music in Scotland and Scottish music in general. He founded the Active Society for the Propagation of Contemporary Music and through this and the Glasgow Grand Opera Society, he brought many first performances to that city. Berlioz's Les Troyens, for example, was first heard in the UK under his baton, as was Beatrice and Benedict and Mozart’s Idomeneo. He formed many other organisations including the Scottish Ballet Society and in the meantime composed prolifically. Chisholm’s passion for traditional Scottish music should also be noted.

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By Dr John Purser

Dr John Purser is a leading Scottish musicologist. He is the author of 'Is The Red Light On?' - a history of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, commissioned by BBC Scotland.

This book is available at a special discounted price of £20.00 inc Postage and Packing (UK) from the Erik Chisholm Trust.

Selection of Music Available on CD

Music Scores

Picture of music score

Scores of Erik Chisholm's works are now available to buy and download from our online shop.

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The Chisholm Sound Archive

Listen to rare and unique recordings of Erik Chisholm and his work, including the 1941 radio broadcast of Babar the Elephant and a talk given by the composer in 1949.

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  • "The most progressive composer that Scotland has produced" Sir Arnold Bax
  • "The most brilliant of Scottish musicians"
    Sir Hugh S Roberton
  • "The forgotten man of 20th Century Scottish Music" Kenneth Walton
  • "Erik Chisholm is the most interesting 20th-century Scots musician you've never heard of" Grant Covell

Erik Chisholm (1904 - 1965)

Erik Chisholm was the leading Scottish modernist composer and a promoter of modernist music of international significance. He was also a vital force in the revival of operas.

He brought Bartók, Hindemith and Casella to Scotland, rescued Walton in a perormance of Facade; and it was for him Sorabji deigned to perform his Opus Clavicembalisticum. He was a founder of the Celtic Ballet.

In his compositions, his knowledge and use of Scottish traditional music remains unsurpassed. He was the first composer to absorb Celtic idioms into his music in form as well as content,his achievement paralleling that of Bartók in its depth of understanding and its daring.

His imaginative fertility and idiomatic adventure chased a restless muse whether in Scotland, the Far East or South Africa.

At a personal level, Chisholm saw himself as a Scot and an internationalist. He had strong left-wing leanings and a mind open to quality. He was reckless in his energies, ruthless in driving others towards achievements they scarcely thought possible, and he paid the price with his early death. His astonishing legacy as a composer and entrepreneur has never been properly presented, never mind assessed.

Listen to Music Clip: 'Scottish Airs'

Morag Chisholm, Chairman

Small Grant Scheme

To this end the trust operates a small grant scheme. Please follow the link for further information.

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