Our Highland Queen

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OUR HIGHLAND QUEEN. AKA - "Oor Highland Queen." Scottish, "Pastoral Air" or Strathspey. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. One of the six hundred or so compositions by the great Scottish fiddler-composer James Scott Skinner (1843-1927). Composed in honor of Queen Victoria and her love for the Scottish Highlands, it originally appeared in his Miller o' Hirn collection. In 1858 Skinner, a fifteen-year-old violinist with the boy-troupe Dr. Mark's Little Men, performed before the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and ten years later he was a dancing master to the children of her tenants in her Highland vacation manor, Balmoral, Scotland. He included it as one of the tunes in his 1921 concert set romantically entitled "Warblings from the Hills." Skinner's directions say it should be played with "grandeur and expression."

A young Queen Victoria wearing a tartan sash.
J. Scott Skinner

The manuscript copy by Gavin Grieg, prepared for Skinner's publication, has the following couplet pasted to the page:

The blue bell may forget to spring,
The Cold cease to blow;
But Deeside men can ne'er forget
The loyalty they owe.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 156. Skinner (The Scottish Violinist), 1900; p. 37. Skinner (Harp and Claymore), 1904; p. 14.

Recorded sources: Barra Music Co., The Barra MacNeils & Symphony Nova Scotia - "Live in Concert" (2012). Celtic Records CX-1, Little Jack MacDonald - "Cape Breton Violins" (various artists). Edison Bell Winner 5430 (78 RPM), William Cameron (v) with John Reid Jr. (p) (1931). Lochshore Records, Ian Powrie - "Legend of the Fiddle - The Ian Powrie Story" (1996). K-Tel Records, Andrew Rankine - "Scottish Accordion Dance Music - The Ceilidh Collection" (2009). Parlophone R 4466 (45 RPM), Jimmy Shand (1942). Topic 12TS267, "Morpeth Rant: Northumbrian Country Music" (1975. Various artists).

See also listing at:
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [1]
See/hear the Strathspey & Reel Society play the tune at youtube.com [2]
See Gavin Grieg's manuscript copy for Skinner's publication at the Univ. of Aberdeen's Skinner site [3]
Hear Cape Breton fiddler Little Jack MacDonald's 78 RPM recording at Juneberry 78's [4] and download [5]




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