Thomas, (1799—1873) writer and musical
composer, was born 25 December 1799 at Condie, Strathearn, Perthshire, in
the house of his father, Ebenezer Oliphant; his mother was Mary, the third
daughter of Sir William Stirling. Bt., of Ardoch, Perthshire.
After being educated at
Winchester College and by private tutors, he became for a short time a
member of the Stock Exchange, London, but soon relinquished commerce to
devote himself to literature and music.
In 1830 lie was admitted a
member of the Madrigal Society, of which he afterwards became honorary
secretary, and, for the use of its members, he adapted English words to a
considerable number of Italian madrigals, in some cases writing original
verses, in others by merely translating.
In 1834 he took part in the
chorus, as a base vocalist, in the great Handel festival in Westminster
Abbey, and in the same year published, under the pseudonym "Saloman
Sackbut" "Comments of a Chorus Singer at the Royal Musical Festival in
Westminster Abbey". He also published in 1835 "A Brief Account of the
Madrigal Society"; in 1836 "A Short Account of Madrigals"; in 1837 "La
Musa Madrigalesca". a volume containing the words of nearly four hundred
"madrigals, ballets and roundelays, chiefly of the Elizabethan age with
remarks and annotations". In 1837 he composed the words and music of a
madrigal, "Stay one moment, gentle Sires" which he produced as the work of
an unknown seventeenth century composer Blasio Tomasi and as such it was
performed at the anniversary festival of the Madrigal Society. He wrote
English versions of Beethoven’s "Fidelio" and the "Mount of Olives", and
the words for numerous songs of Hatton and
other composers. By desire of the directors of
the Philharmonic Society he translated
portions of Wagner’s Opera "Lohengrin" which were performed by the
Society’s orchestra and chorus, the composer conducting at the Hanover
Square Rooms in March
He was engaged for some years
in cataloguing the music in the British
Museum and he occasionally lectured in public on musical subjects. In 1871
he was elected President of the Madrigal Society.
He died unmarried on 9
March 1873 in Great Marlborough Street,
and in the following April his valuable collection of ancient music was
sold by Messrs. Patrick and Simpson.
Diet, of Nat. Biog. Vol. 42
Prof. W. H. Cummins 1895.