Dan R. MacDonald

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Dan R. MacDonald

Dan Rory MacDonald.jpg

 Given name:     Dan
 Middle name:     Rory
 Family name:     MacDonald
 Place of birth:     Port Hood
 Place of death:     Inverness, Nova Scotia
 Year of birth:     1911
 Year of death:     1976
 Profile:     Musician
 Source of information:     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan R. MacDonald

Biographical notes[edit]

Dan Rory MacDonald (1911 - 1976) was born February 2, 1911 in southwest Port Hood, at the home of Angus MacDonald (Angus the Carpenter). Raised in Judique, Inverness County on Cape Breton Island, he was a composer of fiddle tunes.

Usually known as "Dan R.", MacDonald took an early interest in music, encouraged by his fiddle-playing father. His father took him to the home of Hugh A. O’Hanley in Judique south in 1921, where Angus A. MacDougall and Allan MacDougall would go to play the fiddle. At this time MacDonald's interest in playing the violin took root. Hugh O'Hanley got a violin from his brother Allan O’Hanley, MacDonald's grandfather, in Port Hastings, for MacDonald to play. As the violin had no strings, Alexander MacDonnell strung the fiddle for MacDonald who then began learning to play. In 1930, MacDonald went to Glendale and learned to read music from John Willie MacEachern.

MacDonald made his first radio appearance in 1935 on station CJCB in Sydney. The next year he composed his first tune - a reel called The Red Shoes. He made his first recording in 1939, including one of his own compositions called Lassies of Campbell Street. MacDonald enlisted in the army in 1940, and saw service in Britain, France, Germany, and Belgium. While stationed at Abergeldie Castle in Scotland he played regularly on the BBC. He also met J. Murdoch Henderson, a Scottish composer and music critic who taught MacDonald. During his time in Scotland MacDonald composed Heather Hill.

After his discharge in 1946, MacDonald moved first briefly to Boston, and then to Hamilton, Ontario, before spending eleven years in Windsor working in automotive plants. He became part of the group the Five MacDonald Fiddlers, organized by a fiddler named Johnnie Archie MacDonald. The group recorded two LPs.

In 1957, MacDonald left Windsor and moved to the mining town of Elliot Lake. However, he soon had to give up his job due to failing eyesight, and he moved back to Nova Scotia in 1959. He first settled in Sydney, where he recorded four LPs for Rodeo Records. He spent his remaining years living in various parts of Cape Breton. During the 1970s, he became a regular performer on the CBC Television program Ceilidh. MacDonald was a fluent speaker of Scottish Gaelic and was recorded, playing and discussing his music in his native language, for Scotland's BBC Radio nan Gàidheal in 1972. He made his final public performance in July 1976 at a concert at Broad Cove. He died on September 20, 1976 at Inverness, Nova Scotia.

MacDonald estimated in the early 1970s that he had written over two thousand tunes which other musicians have recorded. In addition to the ones already mentioned, MacDonald wrote Lime Hill, Tom Rae, The Boys of the Lake, The Trip to Windsor, and Reichwall Forest. Two published volumes of his compositions exist: The Heather Hill Collection and The Trip To Windsor Collection.