John Bowie

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John Bowie


 Given name:     John
 Middle name:     
 Family name:     Bowie
 Place of birth:     Tibbermore, Perthshire
 Place of death:     Tibbermore, Perthshire
 Year of birth:     1759
 Year of death:     1815
 Profile:     Composer, Musician, Publisher
 Source of information:     

Biographical notes[edit]

Keith Sanger [1] records:

The musicians John Bowie (1759–1815) and his younger brother Peter/Patrick (1763–1846) were natives of the parish of Tibbermore in Perthshire. The family home was at Huntingtower Mains, midway between the villages of Tibbermore and Huntingtower and about three miles west of Perth. Professionally Peter Bowie seems to have based himself in Perth as a music teacher and tuner, but John remained at Huntingtower, at least that was the address he used for his early publications of sheet music.

The brothers organised annual Dance Assemblies in Perth and following a joint visit to London in April 1803, presumably to contact wholesale suppliers of stock, John Bowie entered into a partnership with Thomas Hill to open a music shop in George Street, Perth, in July of that year; which continued until John’s death in 1815. Although John Bowie produced a number of his own compositions in sheet music form his main work was A Collection of Strathspey Reels & Country Dances; with a bass for the violincello or harpsichord, printed for him by Stewart at Edinburgh in 1789.

Frank Kidson, in his British music publishers, printers and engravers (1900), finds:

Bowie & Hill. The senior partner was John Bowie, a Perth musician, who, as Mr. Glen points out in his "Scottish Dance Music," entered into business with T. Hill, in 1803, at a shop in George Street. John Bowie died in 1815, but Mr. Glen quotes an advertisement showing that Hill continued the business alone. Bowie & Hill do not appear to have published very largely. One sheet in my own library is "Four New Tunes, for the pianoforte or violin, published by John Bowie, with the permission of the different composers, Edinburgh, printed for and sold by Bowie & Hill, mus1c sellers, Perth" ; it contains a waltz, with the statement that it was danced on June 1st, 1803.

Kidson references John Glen's sketch of Bowie, contained in the introduction to his Scottish Dance Music (1891) in a section of "Biographical Sketches of Early Scottish Musicians and Musicsellers"

JOHN BOWIE. John Bowie, Musician, Perth, and for some time musicseller there, is first found advertising in July 1785 as follows:--“John Bowie, Musician, Perth, tunes Harpsichords, Piano Fortes &c.” Nothing more appears until he advertised his collection four years later; and then again, in 1797, he announces a single sheet containing “Four new Tunes composed by John Bowie, Huntingtower, near Perth, one of which is the much admired new Strathspey called the Loyal Farmers, with addition of the Slow Set of the Braes of Mar &c.” In 1801 he issued another single sheet—“Just published and Sold at the Music Shops A New Strathspey called the Perthshire Yeomanry and Lady Herriot Hay’s Reel composed by John Bowie, Author of Miss Murray of Ochtertyre’s Strathspey, and others so much danced of late, to which is added three Favourite New Tunes &c.”

John Bowie commenced business as a Musicseller in 1803, as the following advertisement shews—“Music Shop Perth J. Bowie Musician having entered into Partnership with T. Hill George Street begs leave to inform the Nobility, Gentry and Public, that he and his partner will constantly have on hand an assortment of all kinds of Music and Musical Instruments &c.” The Mr. T. Hill here referred to was the father of Mr. D.O. Hill, R.S.A. Bowie appears also to have been in the habit of giving balls in conjunction with this brother; they advertise on March 16th 1807 “J. & P. Bowie’s Annual Ball on Thursday the 26th current. Tickets 3s each from Mr. Thomas Hill Stationer George Street,” &c. The music shop of Bowie & Hill was next door to that occupied by Thomas Hill (Bowie’s partner), who carried on therein a separate business as a bookseller and stationer. Other advertisements show that the music business was continued by Mr. Hill after Bowie’s death. An advertisement of th date 3rd October 1816 runs as follows:--“T. Hill Bookseller Stationer & Music Seller Perth…a Large assortment of Piano Fortes from the best London Makers, and other Musical Instruments, with Sheet Music in its greatest variety at the lowest prices &c. P.S. Piano Fortes lent out by the month.” Peter Bowie, the brother of John, in the preceding month announces that he “Commences teaching on Monday the 16th current, and that he devotes his whole time to teaching the Piano Forte (having declined to perform at balls &c)…Orders left at his house Atholl Street or at Mr. John Ross junior grocer, &c. N.B. Musical Instruments tuned on reasonable terms.” Peter’s resolution to give up ball playing was doubtless owing to his brother’s death. Bowie died in 1815, in his 56th year, and was buried in Tibber More (his native place), near Perth.