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Nathaniel Gow

 

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(1764-1831)

Nathaniel GowNathaniel Gow was the fourth son of Niel Gow, the famous Scottish fiddler. He was born in Niel's home town of Inver, Perthshire and, like his three elder brothers he chose to follow his father into the music profession. He was involved with performing at many assemblies throughout Scotland, notably with the Caledonian Hunt Balls.

Nathaniel went into partnership with William Shepherd, with whom he established a music selling business, and it is as a prolific publisher of Scottish music, particularly the repertoire and compositions of his father, that he will be remembered for. He has also gained a reputation for publishing other people's compositions, deliberately changing their names and occasionally claiming authorship. Just how much of this is unclear, and there are opinions that too much is made of these assertions [1]. This aspect of Nathaniel Gow is unfortunate, because his place in the history of Scottish music is hugely important in my opinion, firstly as the publisher of much of the day's repertoire, and secondly as a genuine composer in his own right. Many of his tunes are still widely played today, including The Fairy Dance (known in Ireland as The Fairy Reel and the US as Old Molly Hare), Coilsfield House, The Miller of Drone (played in Ireland as The Miller of Draughin and in the US as Grey Eagle), Lady Mary Hay's Scotch Measure, Lament for the Death of his Brother (played as a jig in Ireland under the name The Gallowglass), Master Francis Sitwell, Captain Byng, Niel Gow's Fiddle, Margaret Brown's Favourite, Sally Hunter, etc.

[1] = see Mary Ann Alburger, 'Scottish Fiddlers and Their Music' (Hardie Press)


Nathaniel Gow tunes
Fairy Dance, The [ABC]
Lady Elizabeth Lindsay [ABC]
Miss Baird of Saughtonhall [ABC]
Niel Gow's Fiddle [ABC]

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