Thomas Dunhill

Thomas Frederick Dunhill (1877 – 1946)
‘Maker of Music’

Born in Hampstead on February 1 1877, Dunhill’s name lives on as the author of Chamber Music: A Treatise for Students, a pioneering work on the subject published in 1911. Dunhill studied at the Royal College of Music 1893 – 97 then spent the years from 1899 to 1908 as Assistant Music Master at Eton, concurrently teaching harmony and counterpoint at the RCM where he returned later in his life as a professor in 1942. He composed music for the stage, the ballets Dick Whittington (1935) and Gallimaufry (premiered in Hamburg 1937). Three light operas from 1925 and 1933 – The Enchanted Garden, Happy Families and the best known and most successful of the three Tantivy Towers. He also scored a Symphony, in A Major in 1922 and also at least 5 works were premiered at the Henry Wood Proms. Dunhill’s piano music was a fruitful source for the Associated Board set pieces (as I can well testify!) and his books of graded studies became well known to young players. Solo songs, Quintets, Choral works and his work as a teacher and administrator kept Dunhill busy although he still found time to keep a day to day diary of everything he did. Indeed, his son – David, has been able to compile a full and gripping account of his fathers’ life from these notes. Even though much of Dunhill’s music remains unpublished and inaccessible he played a fundamental role in the music life of this country for more than four decades and we should be inspired by the achievements of this composer who led such a fulfilling life.

Dunhill married Molly Arnold, great-great granddaughter of the famous Dr Thomas Arnold, in 1914. They had two sons – Robin b.1915 and David b.1917 and a daughter, Barbara b.1921. Molly sadly died in 1929. He brought up his three young children with the help of Wendy Moon, a remarkable nanny who was with the family for 18 years. Dunhill met Isobel Featonby, a piano teacher, at an examination in Scunthorpe, and they married soon after in 1942. She was 38, he already 65, they spent a wonderfully happy four years together.
Thomas F Dunhill died suddenly at Scunthorpe on March 13 1946 and his grave, the headstone is pictured below, may be found in the Churchyard at St Bartholomew’s Church, Appleby.

Visit www.thomasdunhill.com for further information

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Dunhill Gravestone