Margaret Wilson and David Griffith: Thomas Wilson – Introit: Towards the Light
Born in the United States and raised in Scotland, Thomas Wilson rose from modest beginnings to a position of international recognition as one of the leading composers to come from Britain in the latter half of the Twentieth Century. From his earliest years music was central to his life.
‘Tom not only wanted to be a composer, he felt that he had to be one. There was an inner compulsion – he felt as though he had no choice in the matter. Composition was something that gave him great satisfaction. He said that when it went right there was no feeling like it in the world. Tom believed that it was the composer’s duty to continually stretch his horizons since the process of composition did not stop with putting notes on paper. For him music was an act of communication, and no work was truly realised until it had reached an audience through performance.’
Thomas Wilson was, of course, also a man – a husband for 49 years, the father of three sons, a friend to many, a colleague and a much admired teacher. The disciplined and focused composer who worked with complex rhythms was also a dancer handicapped with ‘two left feet’ who hated new shoes and going to the barber. Celebrated for his music, he remained modest and unpretentious. He delighted in simple pleasures – being home with his family, visiting with friends, savouring a cup of tea, smoking his pipe.
The story of Wilson’s life as a composer and a man is told by his wife Margaret, who was with him day by day, throughout his career. She shared the early years of privation as Wilson strove to develop his unique voice and was also able to share in his later success that included important commissions and prestigious awards. She knew Thomas Wilson as no other person could, and the story she tells concerns a marriage as well as a musical career.
Published by Queensgate Music, Glasgow, 2011.