Rent A Cottage In Scotland

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Niel Gow Scottish Fiddler

Niel Gow, who was born in Inver, near Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland, and spent most of his life there, is perhaps the most famous of Scottish fiddlers. His father was a weaver, and destined his son to the same trade, but Gow early proved his musical talents, and was given lessons by Sir William Stewart’s fiddler. In the ‘45 he followed Prince Charlie for a short way, but became discouraged and turned back at Stirling. Later in the year he won a prize at a public fiddling contest and began to make his name. The Duke of Atholl took him up, and his fame spread even to London, to which he was sometimes summoned to give command performances. He was thought to be incomparable for the livelier airs, though his youngest son Nathaniel excelled him in slow and pathetic music. About a hundred of his airs have survived, the most famous being the Farewell to Whisky. He was a character as well as a musician, and many of his pawky sayings are remembered. He founded a tradition of music at Inver. His son Nathaniel wrote and published much music equal to his father’s and his grandson Niel wrote the air of the well-known song Cam ye by Atholl? These two sought their fortunes further afield, but the native tradition of Inver was long maintained. John Crerar, one of Niel’s pupils, left some compositions behind him: McKerchar, the Atholl Paganini, retired to Niel Gow’s cottage; Willie Duff, or Beardie Willie, was a noted fiddler as well as a local character, and Charles Mcintosh of Inver was a musician as well as a naturalist. Even as late as the 1920s John Scott, the Postman at Tnver, was the judge of reels and strathspeys at the Perth Festival. Niel Gow’s cottage and his oak are still to be seen at Inver. Many of his airs were composed under his oak, and it was also a kind of school from which he taught John Crerer, who sat the other side of the Tay.

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