Back to Leno Hornpipe
LENO HORNPIPE. Scottish, Hornpipe (cut time). B Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune is credited to John B. Easton, Edinburgh, by editor W.B. Laybourn in Köhlers’ Violin Repository, Book 3 (1885). The title may refer to English entertainer George Grant, born George Wild Gavin in 1860, who took the stage name Dan Leno early on as a childhood member of "the little Leno's", a family act. Leno was a small man, only 5 ft., 3 in., tall, but became the most popular entertainer in Britain. In the 1880's however, he was best known for his clog-dancing, after winning his first competition in Wakefield (the prize for which was a purse of silver and a leg of mutton). He was encouraged by another comic singer to enter a clog-dancing competition in Leeds for the larger prize of a gold and silver belt, worth ₤50, a huge sum for the times, and the right to the title "Champion Clog-Dancer of the World." Leno entered the competition as a relative unknown, and bested two well-regarded local dancers to take top honors. A biographer, John J. Wood, described one of his performances in the early 1880's:
He danced on the stage, he danced on the pedestal; he danced on a slab of slate; he was encored over and over again; but throughout his performance, he never uttered a word.
Leno went on to have an extremely successful career as a music hall entertainer, even performing for Queen Victoria. c.f. his autobiography, Dan Leno, Hys Book  (1899). In 1897, George E. Belmont of Sadler's Wells Theatre and a former clog dancer himself wrote:
...during the whole of my professional and private career I have seen all sorts and conditions of clog-dance champions: English, Irish, Scotch and American, such as Charles Queen, Billy Welch, W.H. Allen, John Williams &c., but I conscientiously declare that as infinitely the best of the whole bunch of clog-dancers-- old-timers and up-to-daters--and for originality of steps, coupled with extraordinary heel-and-toe execution, I place Dan Leno first, with Tom Leamore a second. ["Clog-Dance Reminiscences", The Era, Oct. 23, 1897].
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Laybourn (Köhlers’ Violin Repository, Book 3), 1885; p. 220.