Dutchess of Bedford's Strathspey (The)

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DUCHESS OF BEDFORD'S STRATHSPEY, THE. Scottish, Strathspey. B Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. "Slow when not danced." Composed by William Marshall (1748-1833), who worked for the Duke of Gordon as Steward of the Household; the Duke was an enthusiastic supporter of Marshall's music. Hunter (1979) identifies the duchess as Georgiana, fifth and youngest daughter of Alexander (1743-1827), the 4th Duke of Gordon, who wed the John Russell, the Duke of Beford in June, 1803. He was a widower with three sons and much older than his second wife. The Duke's first wife also had been named Georgiana, and the second of that name was much resented by her stepchildren. Ormond described her as "a large and exhuberent character, doted on by her husband." Their wedding festivities lasted an entire week, and one night the couple danced until six o'clock in the morning.

Despite the numerous dwellings owned by the Duke, Georgianna and her husband loved the Highlands and built two hunting huts (bothies) there so they could hunt and fish. One of the huts was also employed by the Duchess for her reputed passionate affair with the famous artist Edwin Landseer. The Duke was a friend and patron of Landseer's, who drew and painted Georgiana numerous times, and although Russell must have known about the depths of their affection for one another he remained tolerant and overlooked his wife's many lapses. The Duchess and Landseer, according to contemporary gossip, had a daughter together, who was given the Russell name (see note for "Lady Rachael Russell"). The intimate friendship between the artist and the Duchess continued from the 1820's to the Duchess's death in 1853, at Nice.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Henderson (Flowers of Scottish Melody), 1935. Hunter (The Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 50. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 163. Marshall, Fiddlecase Edition, 1978; 1822 Collection, p. 5.

Recorded sources:




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