Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Monday, 28 November 2011

On this day in 1853: Finlay Dun

On 28th November 1853
Scottish musician Finlay Dun died aged 58.

"I've never even HEARD of Finlay Dun!", I hear you cry.

Why he matters? 

Although he's now largely forgotten, Dun was much respected in his time, as performer, scholar and arranger.  It's interesting to see what activities occupied a Scottish Victorian musician's career - and find out more about the circles in which he moved.

Finlay Dun (1795-1853) was born in Aberdeen, attended grammar school in Perth, and spent most of his adult life in Edinburgh.  His father was a dancing master, and the young violinist Finlay joined his father in this.  He attended Edinburgh University from 1815-16 and is on record as having taught dancing to Elizabeth Grant of Rochiemurchus in December 1816.  He studied violin in Paris and then in Milan (1820-25), where he also learned counterpoint, composition and singing, and played viola in the royal theatre of San Carlo.

Back in Edinburgh, he became leader of the Edinburgh Professional Society of Musicians’ concerts in 1827, and worked as a music teacher.  Although Dun applied for the Reid Chair at Edinburgh University in 1841, he was unsuccessful. 

Dun married in 1828.  In 1829, Mendelssohn dined with the Duns on 28 July, and went to the triennial highland pipers’ competition with Dun the next day.

Amongst other works, his notable output in the field of Scottish music includes:-
  • 1830   A Selection of Celtic Melodies
  • 1836-8 Vocal Melodies of Scotland
  • 1838   Appendix no.1 in William Dauney’s Ancient Scotish Melodies.  (Dun was encouraged to write this Appendix, on the grounds it would be good for his CV.)
  • 1846   Oliphant, Carolina (Lady Nairne), Lays of Strathearn: arranged with symphonies and accompaniments for the piano-forte by Finlay Dun. 
  • 1848   Orain na h-Albam: a Collection of Gaelic songs
  • 1848-9 George Farquhar Graham, Songs of Scotland. Edinburgh: Wood, 1848-9.  (Dun contributed 26 arrangements – only two less than Graham himself.)
Check the Whittaker Library catalogue to see what the Royal Conservatoire of Library has available.

Visit Copac (the union catalogue of British university and national libraries) for a more comprehensive list.

This blogpost is one of Whittaker Live's On this day series of Scottish musical history posts.

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