OVER THE YEARS THE COLLEGE HAS RECEIVED AND COLLECTED MANY SIGNIFICANT SOUND RECORDINGS. TO ADD TO THESE WE HAVE HAD IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE GENTLEMEN LISTED BELOW. THE COLLEGE IS EXTREMELY GRATEFUL FOR THEIR INPUT INTO OUR CATALOGUE.
Alexander John Haddow
Alexander John Haddow graduated from Glasgow University in 1934, with first class honours in zoology. He then decided to devote his life to medicine, and after qualifying he concentrated his research in the field of tropical medicine. At the beginning of the war he was working on the problems of malaria mosquitoes in Kenya, and then in 1942 he joined the Yellow Fever Research Institute of Entassa, Uganda, where he stayed for 23 years. During this time he gained the degrees of D.Sc. and MD with honours, together with the Bellahouston Medal and other medals and prizes. In 1953 he was appointed Director of the East African Virus Research Institute, and in 1959 was honoured with the CMG.
During all this time he kept alive his keen interest in piping, but it was not until he returned to Glasgow in the mid 1960s and joined the staff of Glasgow University that he was able to begin his researches into piobaireachd history. At his suggestion classes were held by the Extra-Mural Department of the University on this subject, and during the vacation periods he began to spend a lot of his time travelling the country in search of the sites commemorated by the various tunes.
In 1973 he was awarded the highest degree which a scientist can attain, Fellowship of the Royal Society, and it is a measure of his enthusiasm for piping that he travelled overnight from London after receiving the degree in order to attend the Piobaireachd Society Conference at Minard.
The following year he read an outstanding paper at the Piobaireachd Society Conference, on ‘The MacKay Tunes- the story of some Sutherland Piobaireachd’. He became a member of the committee for running the Silver Chanter competition in Dunvegan Castle, which he attended until the year before his death. He was Chairman on one occasion, and was the first Fear an Tighe at Grants’ Whisky Championship in Blair Castle. On both occasions his erudition and vast knowledge of the historical background of ceol mor adding greatly to the pleasure of audience and competitors alike.
During his last two years, in association with John MacFadyen and J A (Jake) MacDonald, he was actively engaged in the preparation of a monumental treatise, ‘The Importance of Ceol Mor in the Historical Study of Highland History’. Unfortunately he was not able to complete it before his untimely death. At the time of his death on 26th December 1978 he was emeritus professor of Administrative Medicine at Glasgow University. Alec, as he preferred to be known in the piping world, had been seriously ill for some time, but with indomitable will he continued his research into piobaireachd history until the very end. He was a highly respected and well-loved character in the piping world. His knowledge of obscure tunes and his ability to make the past seem part of the present gained him the admiration of all. But it was his ability to mix freely and equally with the pipers that especially endeared him to that close-knit body of men. His authoritative pronouncements on malt whiskies, his happy and unusual turns of phrase, and his at times somewhat unconventional approach made him a unique and splendid person.
Just before he died Professor Haddow left his papers on Ceol Mor to the University of Glasgow under the car of his friend Mr J. A. MacDonald. It was felt that this work should be made available to a wider audience, and that this could best be done by bringing the papers together in a book form. Mr MacDonald enlisted the help of co-editors A. I. MacInnes and Dr David R. Hannay and although Mr MacDonald was tragically killed before the editing was completed the book The History and Structure of Ceol Mor was published in 1982.
Professor Haddow’s collection of cassette tapes was left in the care of Dr Hannay and we hope to obtain copies for the Museum of Piping sound archive.
Kenneth A MacKay was born at the turn of the century at Alness in Ross-shire and educated at Tain Academy and Glasgow University. In the First World War he served with the Seaforths and with the Fife and Forfarshire Yeomanry as a musketry instructor. After the war, and having graduated in medicine, his deep religious beliefs inspired him to attend the Free Church College in Edinburgh during 1925 and 1926. At the end of that time he went off to Peru as a medical missionary where he again studied at the San Marcos University in order to validate his degrees. In 1938 he returned to Glasgow and while working as a doctor in general practice began to take piping seriously with Hugh Kennedy as his instructor.
He became an active member of the Glasgow Highland Club and the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society but perhaps his biggest effort for piping was his attempt to establish a system of certification which would be acceptable not only in Scotland but throughout the World. To this end he invited representatives of all piping societies and organisations to a meeting in Glasgow. It was a measure of his popularity that every organisation sent a representative and great enthusiasm was evinced for the scheme. Although things did not go exactly as Kenneth planned, the result was that the Pipe Band Association decided to go it alone and so the College of Piping, of which Kenneth was at that time Chairman, continued to carry out the scheme until, with the support of the Piobaireachd Society and the Army School of Piping, the Institute of Piping was set up and the Syllabus and tests established. At the Silver Jubilee Dinner of the College of Piping Dr MacKay, then a Vice President of the College, in one of those splendid speeches which had made him renowned among piping societies in Scotland and beyond traced the development of the college from its humble beginnings to the proud position it then occupied. He looked on it as a continuation of the glorious tradition of the MacCrimmon College at Boreraig and listed in some detail the achievements made in many aspects of piping over the past twenty-five years.
Dr Kenneth MacKay moved from Glasgow to Laggan where he continued in practice and also organised and taught a piping class. During this time he was responsible for getting some of the best tapes we have of Robert U Brown’s teaching as he got Bob to tape many of the great tunes ‘for the boys at Laggan’. He retired to Newtonmore where he died in 1988 at the age of 88. After his death his family set up a fund to establish a substantial money prize, administered by the College of Piping, the award being made to the person considered to have given the best performance on the pipes in the practical section of the Scottish Education Department’s Higher Music examination. His collection of tapes has been deposited in the Museum of Piping.
He started piping with the Dalmuir Pipe Band under P/M George Shearer. During World War 2 he served with the Royal Navy and was able to do some piping during this time. After the War he played with the Bonhill Pipe Band.
Maurice and his family went to South Africa in 1952.
Maurice played with success in solo competitions in South Africa and won the 100 guineas two years in succession. He played with Boksburg Caledonian Pipe Band.
Many pipers visited or stayed with the Forsyths in Durban, John and Bunty MacLellan, R.U. Brown, John MacFadyen and others. Maurice would ask them to play and made recordings.
Maurice composed many tunes. His jig The Pony Gallop is published in John MacLellan’s More Music for the Highland Bagpipe. Over the years Maurice wrote many letters to the Piping Times. The Forsyths returned to Scotland in 1988. Maurice died on his birthday in 2004. Maurice wanted his tapes to be used to benefit students of piping, therefore he had asked his wife to bring them to the Museum of Piping.
PM Brian MacRae
Brian MacRae was born on the 27 March 1942 in Aberdeen but had Ross-shire family connections and was brought up in Rothesay. He had piping tuition from Alex MacIntyre, Donald MacLeod and Bob Nicol. He was a member of the TA in Rothesay and started his working life an apprentice at John Brown’s. In about 1963 he joined the Ordnance Corps of the regular army before joining the Gordon Highlanders in 1966. He took the Pipe Major’s course in 1969 and afterwards became the Pipe Major at the Army Apprentices’ College in Harrogate. In 1975 he was appointed Pipe Major of the Gordon Highlanders and in 1980 he became the Queen’s Piper. He retired in 1995 and became a judge’s clerk to Sir William MacPherson of Cluny. Brian was the compiler of the two volumes of the Gordon Highlanders Collection of Pipe Music.
Brian died on the 3rd September 2000 while on holiday in France. Due to the kind efforts of Dr. Bruce Thomson all his books, music and tapes were secured for the College of Piping.