Mary MacLean

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MARY MACLEAN. Canadian, Hornpipe. Canada, Cape Breton. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Composed by Cape Breton fiddler and composer Dan R. MacDonald (1911-1976). Mary MacLean Gillis was a performing pianist and piano teacher from North Sydney, Cape Breton.

Dan R. MacDonald

Her obituary, printed in the July 3rd edition of the Halifax Herald, reads:

GILLIS (MacLean), Mary Georgina - 88, Archibald Avenue, North Sydney, passed away during a "Ceilidh" weekend in Iona. Born in North Sydney, she was a daughter of the late Hector and Catherine (Nicholson) MacLean. Mary graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University in 1938 with a bachelor of music degree. She was an accomplished "Celtic" piano player and over the years built a reputation as one of the most technically advanced accompanists on the island. In the company of Winston Fitzgerald, Angus Chisholm, and other noted fiddlers, she was a frequent guest on local radio and television programs during the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s. For a period of 30 years, following the sudden death of her husband in 1957, she taught hundreds of young people and adults the basic rudiments of playing the piano. She also served for a number of years as the choir director at St. Joseph Church in North Sydney and was an active member of the Catholic Women's League. She treasured her many visits to Scotland and Ireland, and was one of the founding members of the Cape Breton branch of the Clan MacLean Society. For several years she was president of the Clan MacLean Society of Nova Scotia. A passionate reader, especially with regard to Celtic music, history and genealogy, she remained physically active and alert right up until her untimely death. The night before, she played the piano at a Ceilidh at the Highland Heights Inn in Iona. Although a classically trained pianist, she loved all types of music, from the rhythm-an-blues baritone of Elvis Presley, to the operatic tenor of Luciano Pavarotti. She was also a founding member of the Community Concerts Association of Sydney.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Cameron (Trip to Windsor: The Music of Dan R. MacDonald, vol. 2), 1994; p. 71.

Recorded sources:




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