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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.

University of Edinburgh, Reid School of Music, Teviot Row, EdinburghReference: LB27995

Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 14/07/1966
  • Last Date Amended: 17/07/2015


  • Local Authority: Edinburgh
  • Planning Authority: Edinburgh
  • Burgh: Edinburgh

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNT 25819 73066
  • Coordinates325819, 673066


David Cousin, dated 1858. Tall, classical, 2-storey, with basement, 7-bay, rectangular-plan, Italianate former music school building, (now in use as a concert hall), prominently sited on sloping ground within a group of university buildings at Teviot Row. Symmetrical entrance (W) elevation with central bay with bracketed and hoodmoulded tripartite windows flanked by paired, single storey entrances with classical columned porticos and entrance steps. Single storey section to N elevation housing museum, 1st floor behind with 5 windows flanked by shell-headed niches. Smooth sandstone ashlar. Base course, ground floor string course, 1st floor cill and lintel courses with ornate, dentilled, heavy bracketed eaves over band course with inscriptions. Bracketted cills and hoodmoulds. Plainer elevation in coursed rubble to S.

INTERIOR: main concert hall space with outstanding classical decorative scheme with coffered semi-elliptical tunnel vault ceiling, grand dentilled cornice, cornice bands to mid height and plain pilasters between windows. Raked floor to W and piano lift to basement. Organ by Jorgen Ahrend 1978 in a case by James Haig Marshall of Ian G Lindsay and Partners. Classical architraves, timber dado panelling and panelled shutters. Plain stair to basement.

Statement of Special Interest

An outstanding, prominently sited, 19th century classical building commissioned by the University of Edinburgh and by a noted Scottish architect, surviving in near its original form. The building demonstrates fine classical Italian detailing to both the elevations and the interior and the main performance space is on a grand scale.

The foundation stone was laid 13 February 1858 and the building was opened the following year on 14 February 1859. When built the Reid School of Music was used as a classroom rather than a performance space as it is used today. The building was funded by General Reid (1733-1815) who bequeathed money for its construction.

David Cousin (1809-1878) was one of the most outstanding architects of his generation but his recurrent faltering health and interest in civic duties resulted in a limited body of work. He gained renown for designing planned cemeteries in the 1840s at the start of his career such as Dalry and Warriston Cemeteries in Edinburgh. He became a member of the new Free Church, building several provincial churches for them before his major commission for them in 1853: the neo Norman style St Georges Church on the Mound in Edinburgh with its paired spires standing prominent on the city's skyline. Cousin became architect to the British Linen Bank in 1845, an institution for whom he worked extensively during the latter part of his career. He produced some very fine examples of Italianate palazzo style architecture for the bank such as the British Linen Bank in Dundee. On 1st June 1847 he was appointed Edinburgh s Superintendent of Public Works and his first major work in that capacity was the Mannerist palazzo of the Corn Exchange in the Grassmarket (1848) and the abattoirs (1851-52) for which he made a study visit to Paris. The appointment as Superintendent brought with it responsibility for the University of Edinburgh which was then still municipally-owned, hence the reason he came to carry out the commission for the Reid School of Music.

The Reid was designed as a dry acoustic with little reverberation and the 1978 organ was designed to complement the building to create a fine acoustic clarity, in contrast to the adjacent McEwan Hall and organ with high reverberation and much grander sound. A classical style inscription is carved into frieze below the cornice: Endowed by General Reid. School of the Theory of Music, University of Edinburgh The North Room was built as a museum and now houses part of the University of Edinburgh s Musical Museums and the John Donaldson Collection of over 1000 musical instruments. It is thought to be the oldest purpose-built musical museum in Europe. John Donaldson (1789-1865) was Professor of Music from 1845-1865.

(List description updated at re-survey 2011-12.)

Statutory address updated (2015). Previously listed as 'Teviot Row, University of Edinburgh, Reid School of Music'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 74111

J Gifford, C McWilliam and D Walker Buildings of Scotland Edinburgh (1984) p186.

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, (accessed 2012).

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

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