Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Monday, 26 October 2009

Preserving Scotland's heritage (part 2)

The Whittaker Library at RSAMD recently purchased two rare old Scottish printed music scores - the first volume of R. A. Smith's Scotish Minstrel, and Niel Gow's Complete Repository of Original Scots Tunes Part 2. Both books were in a sorry state when we bought them, but they have been expertly restored by Scottish bookbinders Riley, Dunn and Wilson. Come and ask to see them - they are truly fantastic! Robert Archibald Smith published a number of songs by Lady Carolina Nairne in his Scotish Minstrel (note the spelling - someone else published a different collection with the modern spelling of 'Scottish'). He was condemned by fussy antiquarians for 'inventing' Scottish songs and passing them off as traditional. Nonetheless, some of his songs became part of the Scottish repertoire in their turn. (He also published an Irish Minstrel, itself a controversial publication because of copyright issues, but that's another story.) The Gow family were famed fiddlers, and no self-respecting Scottish music library would turn up the chance to buy one of their publications. Niel Gow (1720-1807) was a seriously big name in his day.

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