William Hume Lithgow (1806-74) Composer and Teacher

Lithgow taught Vocal Music at The Athenaeum, and is referred to on page 92 of James Lauder’s 1895 book about the institution’s first fifty years. He is described as “then, and for many years subsequently, … well known as one of the foremost choir-masters, or, as they were then designated, leaders of psalmody, in the city.” In the seventeenth chapter of the publication, on page 122, Lauder comments:


“Before leaving the old building, proposals for the extension of the educational work of the Institution had been engaging the attention of the authorities, and some of those proposals had been forthwith carried out in connection with the Commercial College. Impressed also with the knowledge that there existed in the city a pressing necessity for more systematic organisation of musical instruction, special consideration was given to this branch of education. Vocal music had been taught in the Athenaeum from the very beginning of the Institution’s career, but only in connection with its evening classes; and, indeed, it could not be said to have formed to any degree a part of the syllabus. Mr. Lithgow had conducted a class for Music for many years, and he was succeeded by Mr. John Fulcher.”


He died at 9 Victoria Place on the 22nd of August, 1874, according to the Herald’s notice, published on the 24th, whereas David Baptie has it as the 23rd, in his Musical Scotland, Past and Present, 1894, page 101. Baptie makes no mention of the Athenaeum, but does state that, from 1842 to 1874, Lithgow was music master at the High School and precentor of St. Enoch’s Church. The author also refers to some of Lithgow’s musical works.