James Stewart Robertson

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From: [Nigel Gatherer]


(1823-1896)

James Stewart Robertson was from Edradynate, Perthshire. He was born in 1823, and studied fiddle under Duncan McKercher (The Athole Paganini), John McAlpine and William McLeish (The Aberfeldy Paganini).
Robertson was a founding member of the Edinburgh Highland Reel and Strathspey Society in 1881. He became the Society's first President, and it was said that "no more suitable gentleman could be got in Scotland for the post". Robertson died during the 1895-96 session of the Society, which also saw the death of its Vice-President, Robert Watson, ("the Society's Bard").
The newspapers, at the time of his death, celebrated his fame as lawyer, philanthropist, and politician, but nothing was said of him as a musician. His most memorable and lasting contribution to Scottish fiddle music was certainly his publishing The Athole Collection. Concerned that public interest in Scottish fiddle music was waning, he set about compiling and editing this important work (referred to by Francis Collinson as "an Encyclopædia of Scottish Dance Music") in 1884. A new edition of the collection was published in 1961, and another edition in 1996 published by Balnain House Trust.
The Athole Collection remains one of the standard books to which almost all Scottish fiddlers refer.