Daniel Dow

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Daniel Dow


 Given name:     Daniel
 Middle name:     
 Family name:     Dow
 Place of birth:     Kirkmichael??, Perthshire
 Place of death:     Edinburgh
 Year of birth:     1732
 Year of death:     1783
 Profile:     Collector, Composer, Musician
 Source of information:     

Biographical notes[edit]

"Biographical Sketches of Early Scottish Musicians and Musicsellers", by John Glen, from a forward to The Glen Collection of Scottish Dance Music, Edinburgh, 1891:

DANIEL DOW. Daniel, or Donald, Dow first comes under our notice in connection with a series of concerts (probably annual) which he was in the habit of giving. The earliest advertisement discovered appears under date 30th March 1765,--“Mr. Dow’s Concert of Vocal and Instrumental Music on 2nd April. Tickets to be had at the Old Coffee House, and at Mr. Dow’s rooms, first Turnpike within the head of Blackfriars Wynd left hand and second door.” In an announcement in 1768, his address is given as, “Mrs. Low’s, inside of the Entry opposite to the Meeting House within the foot of Blackfriar’s Wynd.” In 1771, his address is “Mr. Dow’s lodgings, first scale stair within the head of the Fleshmarket Close, fifth door upstairs.” In the year following he moves to the fourth door; in 1774, he returns to Mrs. Low’s; and in 1777, his house is situated in the middle of “Todrick’s Wynd.” Dow was no doubt a teacher of music, although no advertisement to that effect has been discovered.. Dr. David Laing was informed by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, who had it from his mother, that when she was a young girl, Dow taught music, particularly the guitar. Joshua Campbell of Glasgow, who advertises that he “proposes to teach the guitar having returned from Edinburgh where he had been at some expense in perfecting himself under the best masters,” may possibly have been one of Dow’s pupils.

Dow appears to have been a man of considerable energy and attainments. His concerts were usually held in St. Mary’s Hall, Niddry’s Wynd, Edinburgh.

Of the several books which he published no advertisements appear in the newspapers, but a notice appears in the November and December numbers of the Edinburgh Magazine and Review for 1773, which contains the tunes “Athol House and Ossian’s Hall,--a New Reel,” In a foot note appended to this reel is found, “Inscribed to Sir James Clerk of Pennycuick ‘Ossian’s Hall’ a new country dance composed by Mr. Dow. This piece and the former by the same composer are inserted at his desire.” His various publications of Strathspeys, Reels, Jigs, and Minuets. &c., probably did not appear until after his marriage, which took place in December 1774, to Susanna Small, from Kirkmichael, Perthshire, of which place he himself is believed to have been a native. Dow died from fever, at the age of 51, in January 1783, and is buried in the Canongate Churchyard, Edinburgh. He was survived by his widow and four children, for whose benefit a concert was given, shortly after his death, in St. Cecelia’s Hall.

Regarding the dubiety attaching to his Christian name, it may be pointed out that in the Marriage Register for 1774 he is called “Donald,” but on all his books, as well as in the Recorder’s entry relating to his death, he is named “Daniel.” Many of his tunes are excellent and great favourites, such as “Athol House,” “Bonnie Annie,” “Comely Garden,” “Donald'' ''Dow,” and “Monymusk.” The two latter he named respectively “Lady Charlot Murray’s Reel” and “Sir Archibald Grant'' ''of Monemusk’s Reel.” It is important to observe that Nathaniel Gow and others changed the names of several of Dow’s tunes, when including them in their own collections.

Dow's given name was entered as Daniel due to the Presbyterian ministers habit of substituting Biblical equivalents to Gaelic names in written records. Keith Sanger(in his article on General Reid and Danile Dow, "The Elephant in the Room" [1]) writes that the oft-repeated assumption that Kirkmichael, Perthshire, was Dow's birthplace may be in error. He notes that there is no record of the name of Dow (birth or marriage) in the parish records (which are intact), until Daniel's name is recorded in 1774 in relationship to his marriage in Edinburgh in December of that year to Susan Small from Kirkmichael, daughter of Peter (or Patrick) Small. After his death in Edinburgh his family returned to Strathardle. However, Sanger believes Dow was a native of Perthshire. Sanger also uncovers a connection with the soldier and composer General John Reid and Dow's wife's brother John Small, who both served in America in the French and Indian Wars in the 42nd Regiment (The Black Watch) as Captain and Lieutenant, respectively. Reid later described Small as a 'childhood friend'.