Weist-Hill, Thomas Henry (DNB00)

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WEIST-HILL, THOMAS HENRY (1828–1891), musician, son of Thomas Hill, goldsmith and freeman of the city, was born in London on 3 Jan. 1828. He showed an early taste for the violin, and, after appearing at Gravesend as an ‘infant prodigy,’ he in 1844 entered the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied under Prosper Philippe Catherine Sainton [q. v.], and in 1845 took the king's scholarship. He was subsequently a professor of the violin at the academy, and conducted its choir and orchestra. On leaving the institution he attached himself to the orchestra of the Princess Theatre, but he soon became known as a concert violinist, and was taken up first by Edward James Loder [q. v.], and then by Louis Antoine Julien or Jullien [q. v.] With the latter he toured in America, where he was the first to make known Mendelssohn's violin concerto, and later visited the principal continental cities. Returning to London, he was engaged as first violin by (Sir) Michael Costa [q. v.], under whom he played for many years in the Opera, Philharmonic, and Sacred Harmonic societies' orchestras. On the opening of the Alexandra Palace in 1873 he was appointed musical director, and in that capacity did good service by bringing forward new compositions by native writers, as well as by reviving forgotten works, such as Handel's ‘Esther’ and ‘Susanna.’ In 1878 he conducted the orchestral concerts of Madame Viard-Louis, at which several important works were heard for the first time in England. He was appointed principal of the Guildhall School of Music in 1880, and held that post till his death at South Kensington on 26 Dec. 1891. He was an admirable violinist and an able administrator. He wrote a few compositions, mostly for violin and 'cello, of which the ‘Pompadour Gavotte’ became popular.

[Musical Opinion, January 1885; Lute, March 1891 (portrait); Musical Herald (portrait) and Musical Times, February 1892; Brown and Stratton's British Musical Biography; information from the son, Ferdinand Weist-Hill, esq.]

J. C. H.