Newly discovered piobaireachd by Peter R. MacLeod Snr
A piobaireachd composed by Peter R. MacLeod Snr. has been discovered and published in this month’s Piping Times. The tune, A Tribute to the Memory of the late Pipe Major William Fergusson, was found in a box along with scores of unpublished handwritten compositions submitted by many of the leading pipers of the 1950 and 60s to the Piping Times and to composing competitions.
Piping historian, Jeannie Campbell, stumbled on the tune whilst undertaking research at the College of Piping museum (now The National Piping Centre Otago Street) earlier this year. Said Jeannie: “In the box were many light music tunes sent in for composing competitions and many others that had been sent to the College over the years. Included were two pieces of ceòl mòr by the great Pipe Major Peter R. MacLeod Snr. MacLeod, of course, was a superb – and prolific – composer of light music:
Said Jeannie: “In the box were many light music tunes sent in for composing competitions and many others that had been sent to the College over the years. Included were two pieces of ceòl mòr by the great Pipe Major Peter R. MacLeod Snr. MacLeod, of course, was a superb – and prolific – composer of light music: Hugh Kennedy, The Conundrum, John Morrison of Assynt House etc.
“Checking through the published books and the Piping Times, I found that part of Peter’s tune, Salute to Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod had been included in an article by Andrew Wright in the June 2014 Piping Times.
“Andrew, who received tuition from MacLeod as well as his son, stated that as far as he knew this was the only piobaireachd composed by Peter R. MacLeod Snr. … Hidden amongst all the other tunes was this tune entitled, A Tribute to the Memory of Pipe Major William Fergusson.
“As Willie Fergusson died in 1949 the tune must have been composed or at least named after that date.”
William Fergusson was a leading piper of the first half of the 20th century. He joined the 7th Highland Light Infantry in 1901 and was appointed Pipe Major in 1914. Later, he became Pipe Major of the City of Glasgow Pipe Band (which was later renamed the Clan MacRae Pipe Band in 1924) from 1920-1929, winning the World Pipe Band Championships in 1921, 1922, 1923 and 1925.
His compositions include Kantara to El Arish, Clan MacRae Society, Atholl and Breadalbane Gathering and Australian Ladies. He died in Glasgow on July 3, 1949, aged 64.
• Full story in the July Piping Times. Digital subscribers can listen to a recording of the ground.