OT: 10 April 1948 – Herbert Wiseman “The B.B.C. Piping Broadcast”

The Oban Times, 10 April, 1948

The B.B.C. Piping Broadcast

British Broadcasting Corporation. Glasgow, W. 2.

5 April, 1948

Sir,–My attention has been drawn to Colonel Grant’s letter which appeared in your issue of April 3. As head of the B.B.C.s’ Scottish music, I hasten to assure your readers that I assume full responsibility for the broadcast of two compositions for bagpipes by Mr. Donald Main. Colonel Grant is a member of our “Piping Panel” to which he alludes and, as such, was present, as I was I, at the meeting which was held in January. The panel was then informed, as a matter of courtesy, that Mr. Main was to be asked contribute to a series which our music department is running on Modern Scottish Composers, and that an opportunity would be given in “Arts Review” for a critic, known to the piping panel, to express the views of the traditional pipers. Could anything be fairer?

The immediate reaction on the part of the panel was one of condemnation. We were assured (1) that Mr. Main could not play the pipes, and (2) that his compositions were without merit. This, it will be evident, absolves Colonel Grant and his fellow members.

As, however, the series on Modern Scots Composers is broadcasting, without prejudice, works for piano, violin and other musical instruments, the B.B.C. judged that the bagpipe was worthy of being included. Mr. Main was not presented in one of our piping periods which are reserved for players approved by the panel, but as one who is endeavouring, as a contemporary composer, to make his own contribution to the musical culture of Scotland. He has theories on the Piobaireachd as a particular art form and we felt that, in all justice, he should be given a chance to demonstrate these.

We hope, in spite of what Colonel Grant says, that there are many pipers who listen to a series dealing with contemporary Scots music because their primary interest is in music as an art, not confined to any single instrument.

I am, etc.,

Herbert Wiseman
Head of Scottish Music.