Biography:Joseph Lowe

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Joseph Lowe

 Given name:     Joseph
 Middle name:     
 Family name:     Lowe
 Place of birth:     
 Place of death:     
 Year of birth:     1796
 Year of death:     1866
 Profile:     Collector, Composer, Musician, Publisher
 Source of information:     

Biographical notes

Dancing master and musician Joseph Lowe was born into a musical family. His father, John Low (who did not use an 'e' at the end of his name), was a fiddler-composer who lived in Marykirk (see his most famous compositions, "Archie Menzies" and "Rachel Rae"). John, who was a master shoe-maker in addition to his musical avocation, apprenticed Joseph to a saddle-maker, but the son found music too compelling, and it had become a family trade. Joseph's siblings distributed themselves around Scotland to teach music and dance: John (Jr.) in Perth, Arbroath and Elgin; Robert in Glasgow, Montrose and Brechin; and James in Dundee and Fifeshire. Joseph, fleeing the saddle-maker, joined his brother Robert in Brechin, but eventually established himself and in Edinburgh and Inverness as a teacher of violin and dancing (The eldest Low sibling, Ann, married one David Alexander). The family even published a treatise, called Lowes' Ball Conductor and Assembly Guide.

His success among the Highland lairds (to whose families he taught music and dancing) was enhanced by his skills as a wrestler and boxer, and by his fly-fishing acumen--they "would wager upon his head against some of their gillies (young men) on one hand, and ask for some of his nicely-dressed flies on the other" (Baptie Musical Scotland, 1894). Lowe married one of the daughters of John Eager, an English composer, organist and violinist, who had moved to Edinburgh around 1836. He published, in six volumes, Lowe's Collection of Strathspeys, Jigs and Reels (1844-45), which is still referred to today, as well as a few similar collections of music. His most prestigious assignment, however, was as a teacher of music and dancing to the Royal Family at Balmoral and Windsor, in the 1850's.

See also A New Most Excellent Dancing Master, the journal of Josephy Lowe's visits to Balmoral and Windsor (1852-1860) to teach dance to the family of Queen Victoria [Ed. Allan Thomas, 1992, ISBN 0-945193-30-0].