Niel Gow’s Music

[Old Scottish Music Contents]

Here we have some excellent examples from Paul Burns of Niel Gow’s music.

Firstly, Paul has for us, Coilsfield House, for which he gives some background, “Coilsfield House, Ayrshire – The estate was acquired circa 1640 by the 6th Earl of Eglinton for his fourth son, the Honourable Colonel James Montgomerie. Sadly the estate was lost to a fire in the 1960’s.”

About this particular song, he says, “The tune Incidentally was composed by Niel Gow the fourth son of Nathaniel Gow who was a friend of Rabbie Burns. The Gow family set many of the poet’s words to music. This one though is just melodic.”

Niel Gow (1727-1807) composed Farewell to Whisky in 1799, during a failure in the Scottish barley crop. Because of the poor harvest that year, Highlanders were prohibited from ‘wasting’ barley by making whisky. This song is his Lament to a beloved drink.

“You’ve surely heard o’ famous Niel,
The man that play’d the fiddle weel.
I wat he was a canty chiel,
⁠And dearly lo’ed the whisky, O!
And, aye sin he wore the tartan trews,
He dearly lo’ed the Athole brose.
And wae was he, you may suppose,
⁠To play fareweel to whisky, O.”

Sometime later Niel managed to get his beloved dram back and another tune was written to mark the occasion:

Whisky Welcome Back Again!  Hooray!

Paul says; “Niel Gow is one of my favourite fiddle composers and this tune is in my opinion a masterpiece of his.”

The tune is filled with emotion, and this comes from deep in his own heart. Niel composed the tune sometime after the death of his second wife Margaret Urquhart in 1805.

After her death Niel put his fiddle aside but was encouraged to play again by his family and here we have his ‘Lament for The Death of His Second Wife.’

Please Thank Paul for his Contribution to the preservation of Scottish History by

Buying Him a Coffee ☕

4 thoughts on “Niel Gow’s Music

  1. Ah, I was thinking recently about Neil Gow, because, in my younger care free days, I used to frequent the Antiquary pub in Edinburgh, especially to go to the traditional music night. Neil Gow’s portrait hung on the wall which I always liked to see. Lovely to hear his tunes here, and learn about him. Thank you.

    Jenny, books in box, to be sent very soon. 😌 H.

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