Papers of Cedric Thorpe Davie

Scope and Content

The collection includes manuscript scores, sketches, working scripts, miscellaneous items and correspondence between Cedric Thorpe Davie and publishers, broadcasters, performers, other composers, friends, fellow academics, family and acquaintances. The most significant letters are those from the composers Gerald Finzi and Howard Ferguson who were lifelong friends and correspondents. There are also lectures and speeches by Davie and FH Sawyer, scripts for plays for which Davie wrote music and programmes.

The manuscript music includes orchestral works, chamber music, miscellaneous instrumental music, opera and operetta, choral works, Scottish songs, other vocal music, part songs, and incidental music for films, stage plays, radio plays and features and television programmes. There are also two volumes of early music on which Thorpe Davie was working at the time of his death, one of lute music and one of lute music, songs, dances and poems which seem to have belonged to Margaret Wemyss (1630-48) whose sister became Countess of Sutherland.

Administrative / Biographical History

Cedric Thorpe Davie (1913-1983) was born in London, the son of famous voice teacher, Thorpe Davie. Cedric studied at the Scottish National Academy of Music in Glasgow and a Caird scholarship enabled him to move to the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1932 where he studied piano with Egon Petri and Harold Craxton and horn with Aubrey Brain. In 1933 he moved to the Royal College of Music where he principally studied composition under Ralph Vaughan Williams and Dr RO Morris. He won several prizes for composition including, in 1935, the prestigious Cobbett prize. He spent 1935 abroad in Budapest and Helsinki, studying with Kodaly, Finnish composer Yryo Kilpinen and visiting Sibelius. A number of early works date from this period. He returned to Scotland in 1936 and took up a post at the Scottish National Academy of Music, teaching theory and composition, supplementing his income as a church organist.

In 1945 he was invited to become Master of Music at the University of St Andrews and during the next thirty years he directed choirs and orchestras, gave recitals, taught and composed and built up the Department of Music. He arranged and edited works for performance by the students he directed as well as composing works for the forces at his disposal. He produced a steady stream of compositions, many commissioned, for film, theatre, youth orchestras and education departments as well as for the young and growing Edinburgh Festival. The second festival of 1948 saw the beginning of his partnership with director Tyrone Guthrie and dramatist Robert Kemp in the production of Lindsay's Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaites.

Much of Thorpe Davie's work reflected his interest in drama and he produced much incidental music for stage plays, radio programmes and films, many with a Scottish theme. He was awarded an OBE in 1954 and became a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 1955 and of the Royal Society in 1978. He was Professor of Music from 1973 until he retired in 1978. He died in 1983.


The arrangement for the music follows the creator's practice of numbering his compositions in roughly chronological order. The correspondence is also arranged according to the composer's own arrangement, that is alphabetically by name of author, but with groupings of letters relating to particular shows held together.

Access Information

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted.


CT Davie bequeathed his performing scores to the Scottish Music Information Centre, Glasgow.

Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Hand list to the papers was published in 1988. Additional deposits after this date are briefly listed but not incorporated in the indices within the published volume. The scripts for plays are listed in the original index. The lecture notes and programmes are not listed.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Custodial History

The bulk of the papers were bequeathed to the University of St Andrews and were accessioned in 1983 as ms37754-37757. 9 boxes of correspondence were originally deposited on loan and allocated the reference msdep63. In 1998 these were gifted to the University of St Andrews by the sons of CT Davie and they were renumbered as ms37758. Additional gifts were accessioned in 2002 and 2003.

Related Material

Two additional scores from a different source are held at GB 227 ms38432.

Two volumes of lute music are catalogued as GB 227 ms38470.


CM Gascoigne, Cedric Thorpe Davie, 1913-1983, Catalogue of Works and Index to Correspondence (St Andrews, 1988)

Additional Information

This material is original.

Geographical Names