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Peter Milne

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Last update: 17th July 2012

Peter Milne (1824-1908)

Peter Milne (1824-1908), the "Tarland Minstrel" began teaching himself the fiddle at the age of about seventeen. Soon he was playing at The Theatre Royal in Aberdeen and in his mid-twenties became leader of the band. He befriended the young James Scott Skinner and employed him as a cello player.

After Skinner's stint with Dr Mark's "Little Men" Milne took him to Edinburgh, and although Skinner left after a few months, Milne stayed to become leader of the band at several Edinburgh theatres. While touring in England, Peter started taking opium to help his rheumatism.

Back in Scotland, Milne started playing on the Forth ferries, and this provided him with a living until the Forth Bridge was finished in 1890. He returned to Aberdeen. playing in theatres, teaching violin, and playing for dancing, although it appeared to be a precarious existence. He spent the last ten years of his life in hospital in Aberdeen after an accident.

There are not many of Peter Milne's compositions in existence, but those that we do have are superior. It's a mark of their popularity that some are still played around the world today' e.g. John McNeill's Reel (better known as Big John McNeill) and Gillan's Reel (often called Gillian's Reel).

Some of Peter Milne's compositions are listed below. (I have not verified some of these as being by Milne. When I do I'll update the page. Any information would be gratefully received (email me).


Aboyne Castle
Bonnie Glen Tanar
Brig O' Boyne1
Brig o' Feugh
Countess of Crawford, The
Cropies Strathspey
Dean Brig Reel
Deveron Side
Dunnecht House
Earl of Crawford's Reel
Frank Gilruth (strathspey)
Frank Gilruth (reel)
Garden's Strathspey
Gillan's Reel
James O Forbes Esq., of Corse
John MacNeil (slow strathspey)
John MacNeil's Reel
Marquis of Huntly's Reel, The
Marchioness of Huntly, The
Mrs. Greig's Reel
Mrs. Greig's Strathspey2
Muir O' Gellan
Pride of the Dee Waltzes, The
Pride of the Don Waltzes, The
Reel o' Corse
Shakin's o' the Pocky, The3
Tarland Memories
1 = Published as Brig o' Aboyne 2 = by association, but not claimed
3 = with Scott Skinner

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