Biography:John Hall

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John Hall

 Given name:     John
 Middle name:     
 Family name:     Hall
 Place of birth:     Ayr
 Place of death:     Glasgow, Scotland
 Year of birth:     1788
 Year of death:     1862
 Profile:     Collector, Composer, Editor, Musician, Publisher
 Source of information:     

Biographical notes

John Hall (1788-1862) was a musician and dancing master in Ayr who had his own music shop. His c. 1818 music collection (A Selection of Strathspeys Reels, Waltzes & Irish Jigs) contains some thirty of his own compositions as well as popular dance tunes and a number of Irish tunes, including many attributed to Jackson ("Jackson's Admired Airs"). Several of his manuscripts used in his teaching have been preserved, along with his 'kit', a small fiddle used by dancing masters to accompany their dance instruction (it was small enough to be able to slip into the tails of the dancing master's coat). The instrument can be seen in the Kelvingrove Museum. One of his manuscripts contains some 300 tunes in his own hand. Hall's passing was noted by The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle for the year 1863 (p. 131):

At Glasgow, Mr. John Hall, the celebrated Ayrshire violinist. During a long life he had been prominently before not only Ayrshire and Wigtownshire, but even Scotland, as a violinist who had few, if any, equals in the style of music he chiefly cultivated. Like others of similar tastes, Hall's love of music was born in him, and from an early period he devoted himself with close attention to obtain a mastery over the very difficult instrument which he afterwards came to manage with such remarkable skill. Born in the humbler walks of life, he was put at an early age to work at the trade of a tailor. While thus engaged, he wrought in every interval of leisure at this chosen labour of love, and when he managed to scrape together a few pounds, started for Edinburgh--the distance between Ayr and the capital being traversed on foot,--and expanded his hard-won earnings on music lessons. Having spent his little all, he used the return home again on foot, and work his trade till the acquisition of a few pounds again enabled him to set forth in search of instruction. He was a man of too thorough independence of nature to humble himself to ask assistance from any one; and after a time he was able to dispense with the help he got from working at his first trade, and devoted all his energies to his violin. His two brothers and he together came into repute, and by-and-by every ball and large gathering, where dancing music was needed, sought "Hall's band." But Mr. Hall's skill and reputation extended beyond the bounds of Ayrshire, and were recognized by the first musicians of his day in Edinburgh. When George IV paid his well-remembered visit to the capital in 1822 Nathaniel Gow, the celebrated violinist, sent for Mr. Hall to take part in the orchestra at the Peers' ball given at Edinburgh on that occasion . His peculiar forte lay in Scottish music, especially strathspeys and reels, in playing which he had a style all his own, which few, if any, of his brother artists could equal. Mr. Hall's musical abilities were not confined to his performance on the violin; he was also well known as a composer: among a host of other compositions of his, the "Newfield Beauties," the "Ayrshire Quadrilles", the "Kilmarnock Quadrilles", and the "Linfairn Quadrilles", are still popular. For some time past Mr. Hall had, however, retired from all active labours, and enjoyed the quied of an advanced and hale old age, after having amassed a good deal of money.