William Thomson (musicologist)

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For other people named William Thomson, see William Thomson (disambiguation).

William Thomson (fl. 1695 - 1753) was a Scottish folk song collector and singer.

He is said to have been the son of Daniel Thomson, one of the king's trumpeters for Scotland. As a boy singer, he sang at a concert - The Feast of St. Cecillia - in 1695. Before 1722, he had settled in London, and according to Charles Burney had a benefit concert that year. He appears to have become a fashionable singer, as his volume, dedicated to Caroline of Ansbach, Princess of Wales, contains a lengthy list of notable persons as subscribers.

He was the editor of the first collection of Scottish folk songs published together with their melodies. This is a folio named Orpheus Caledonius, a collection of the best Scotch songs set to Musick, entered at Stationers' Hall on 5 January 1725. The book consists of 50 songs with their airs, along with a simple accompaniment. A second volume, in two volumes octavo, had another 50 added.

The two editions are interesting and valuable, although Sir John Hawkins described him as a tradesman and said that his collection was injudicious and incorrect. The words of the songs were largely taken from Allan Ramsay's Tea-Table Miscellany, published in 1724.


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