Miss Graham of Gartmore’s Strathspey (2)

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MISS GRAHAM OF GARTMORE'S STRATHSPEY [2]. Scottish, Strathspey. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. A piece by Edinburgh fiddler Robert Mackintosh ('Red Rob') (c. 1745 1807), judged an excellent performer and composer. The nickname presumably was awarded because he had red hair. Mackintosh fathered 13 children, the first three of whom he named Robert, but amongst them was Abraham who also became a renowned fiddler and composer. Gartmore is a village in Stirlingshire, on the edge of the Highlands, abutting the Loch Ard forest. The title refers to one of the daughters of politician and poet Robert Graham (1735-1797) of Gartmore, author of “Cavalier’s Song” who has been called “the last of the Cavalier Poets.” He was a planter in Jamaica in his early years, and his first wife was a Jamaica heiress. Robert Burns commented on it in a letter to an Edinburgh bookseller in 1790:

Does Mr. Graham of Gartmore ever enter your shop now? He is the noblest instance of great talents, good fortune and great worth I ever saw in conjunction.

Gartmore House

The Graham family seat was at Gartmore House [1] near Aberfoyle in Perthshire, an early 18th century mansion, which “became a most civilized country house, its drawing room one of the most elegant north of the Tweed, was hung with paintings by Rubens, Salvator, Berghem, Jean Stern, Hogarth, Claude Lorrain” (Maycock, A Passionate Poet: Susanna Blamire, 2003). The Grahams of the mid-to-late 18th century were very literary. There is an unconfirmed report that Robert Burns visited Gartmore, and Robert Graham’s cousin, the Earl of Glencairn, was Burns’ patron. A letter-poem written in 1773 by Susanna Blamare entitled “An Epistle to Miss Isabella Graham of Gartmore” references one of the two daughters of Robert Graham, Elizabeth and Isabella, both friends of the author since 1768. It is one of these daughters to whom Mackintosh addressed his tune. Elizabeth married Sir Robert Dalyell Bt. Of the Binns in 1773 and became Lady Dalyell, and youngest daughter Isabella a year later, to Professor Robert Ramsay of Blackcraig, the first Professor of Natural History at Edinburgh University.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: S. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician's No. 10: Airs & Melodies of Scotland's Past), 1992 (revised 2001); p. 13. S. Johnson (A Twenty Year Anniversary Collection), 2003; p. 18. Mackintosh (3rd Book of Sixty-Eight New Reels and Strathspeys), 1796; p. 10.

Recorded sources:




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