Hamilton Harty

(1879 - 1940)
Hamilton Harty
David Greer

Sir Herbert Hamilton Harty hailed from the north of Ireland and in 1895 moved to Bray, Co. Wicklow, where he was influenced by Michele Esposito. He soon made a name for himself as an accompanist and went to England in 1901 to pursue a career as pianist and conductor. He developed to become one of the best conductors of his time, especially after he took over the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester (1920-33). Conducting left him little time for composing after 1920. He also conducted in Dublin, London, the United States and Australia.

His music is broadly romantic and often speaks with a clear Irish traditional voice. His Irish Symphony (1904) was very popular, but arguably his best works with orchestra are With the Wild Geese (1912) and The Children of Lir (1938), in both of which he picked up old Irish legends. Harty was knighted in 1925.