PJ: 22 May 1908 – Unsigned “The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd” [Review]

The People’s Journal, 22nd May 1908

Mr. John Grant, Edinburgh, sends me a copy of his work “The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd.” The book though small in bulk, represents a good deal of thought and work, and there is no doubt that its production is a true contribution to the revival of the theory and practice of the ancient art of Piobaireachd. John Grant was born on his Grace the Duke of Fife’s estates in Morayshire, and in 1893 he joined the 3rd Battalion (Volunteer) Seaforth Highlanders, shortly afterwards going into the pipe band. His instructor was Pipe Major Ronald McKenzie of the 3rd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, and now piper to his Grace the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, Gordon Castle, Lochabers. John used to walk over twenty miles twice a week for his lessons on the pipes. He always took a keen interest in the welfare of piping, and local men, and the year before he left Elgin he got up a competition for the encouragement of local players. He collected something like £ 20 from the Officers of the Battalion to allow local pipers to have prizes at the Highland games held annually at Elgin, as at that time they only provided prizes for open competition. From the date of his first lesson he collected and copied every pipe tune he could lay hands on, and in 1904 he presented three volumes of M.S.S. to the Highland Society of London for exhibition to the president Lord Tullarbardine, M.V.O., D.S.O. and all the contained a total of about eight hundred tunes in piobaireachd, marches, strathspeys and reels, which were copied by his own hand from the year 1898 to 1904.

An Enthusiastic Piper

From all this it can be seen that John Grant was an enthusiast in everything pertaining to bagpipe music, but his labours did not end with the production of his three volumes of M.S. pipe music. His work in pipe music in illuminated Celtic design has been accepted in book form and in form for framing by his Majesty the King, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Connaught, and the Duke of Fife. Mr. Grant’s idea in doing up piobaireachd in form for framing was that tunes associated with the ancient chiefs of the clans ought to be framed and hung on the walls of the castles to which they belong in beautifully illuminated design instead of being consigned to a covered where they are seldom or ever seen. Mr. Grant it will be admitted is the right man to produce “the Royal Collection of Piobaireachd,” and I have to state that it is dedicated by special permission to the President and members of the Piobaireachd Society. The subscription list is headed by the Duke of Connaught, the Duke of Fife, and many members of the Scottish nobility, and I have no fear it will find its way into the hands of every piper in the country.