Biography:Alexander Leburn

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Alexander Leburn

 Given name:     Alexander
 Middle name:     
 Family name:     Leburn
 Place of birth:     Auchtermuchty, Fife
 Place of death:     Auchtermuchty, Fife
 Year of birth:     1767
 Year of death:     1836
 Profile:     Composer, Musician
 Source of information:     

Biographical notes

From John Glen (Glen Collection of Scottish Dance Music, vol. 2, pp. xv-xvi) : Alexander Leburn, a native [and life-long resident of Auchtermuchty], followed the profession of musician in the good old town in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and is found as a subscriber to Charles Duff's Collection 1790, also in Gow's Third, M'Donald's Third, and James Walker's First Collections, in some of which he is styled a musician. In May, 1793, he published a collection of tunes, which was advertised in March of that year as follows:-- “ About the end of May will be published (by subscription) a Collection of New Strathspey Reels &c. with a Bass for the Violincello or Harpsichord Dedicated by permission to Mrs Moncriefif of Reedie by Alex. Leyburn Auchtermuchty. Those who have not had an opportunity of subscribing and wishes to favour the Publisher, will find Subscription papers with Robert Ross Carrubber’s Close, James Johnson and Co. Lawnmarket, Nathaniel Gow Baillie Fyffe’s Close Edinburgh, or send their names to the Publisher at Auchtermuchty as soon as possible March 27th 1793.” For his Collection he received subscriptions to the number of 231 copies; the book is now somewhat scarce. Leburn’s Collection contains 36 tunes, ten of which he qualifies as the compositions of other individuals. He claims “ Mrs Duncan’s Reel,” and judging from his style, and from the fact that he Calls himself author, and no other, unqualified tune could be challenged in his collection, we are inclined to think it is his composition, although Nathaniel Gow also lays claim to it.

What position Leburn attained as a player we have been unable to ascertain, but the editor has seen an old Italian violin which was presented to him by the Earl of Leven, no doubt for his performances. We are unable to say how long Alexander Leburn continued his musical career. Whoever wrote the following in the Fifeshire Journal either despised the musical profession or considered it beneath his notice, as he omits any reference to it:—“ The death of Mr Leburn, one of the magistrates of this burgh, has made a deep impression on the inhabitants of this town and neighbourhood. After a period of useful and laborious duty, he had settled into comparative retirement, when he was suddenly cut off by apoplexy. Mr Leburn was no ordinary man. Without the advantage of any better education than is usually obtained in a country school, he acquired considerable proficiency in mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, and general science. But mathematics was his forte, and in it he became so eminent as frequently to solve problems which few others could master. His desire for knowledge was so intense, that much of his time was devoted to reading, nothing delighting him more than a new book on any of his favourite studies. Whether sitting at home, or walking along the high road, his mind was absorbed in one study or another. Mr Leburn was therefore a self-taught philosopher of no mean order, considering the advantages he enjoyed. His manners were unostentatious, his habits so temperate as almost to amount to abstinence, his heart kind, his piety sincere without ostentation, his integrity incorruptible, and as he was much respected by all ranks, he is now universally regretted.—Auchtermuchty, 12th March 1836.”

Alexander Leburn was born 1767, and died 1836.