Robert Mackintosh

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Robert Mackintosh


 Given name:     Robert
 Middle name:     "Red Rob"
 Family name:     Mackintosh
 Place of birth:     Tullymet, Perthshire
 Place of death:     London
 Year of birth:     c. 1745
 Year of death:     1807
 Profile:     Composer, Musician
 Source of information:     John Glen

Biographical notes[edit]

From John Glen's "Biographical Sketches of Early Scottish Musicians and Musicsellers" from the forward to The Glen Collection of Scottish Dance Music, Edinburgh, 1891)

The earliest notice of Robert Mackintosh, alias “Red Rob,” is to be found in Peter Williamson’s Directory ofr 1773-74, where his profession and address are given as “Musician, Skinner’s Close.” He removed in 1774 to Trunk Close. In February 1775, in conjunction with Mr. Muschet, he gave a concert of vocal and instrumental music. In 1780, he announces a concert, for which tickets were to be had at his house in Barranger’s Close. Shortly afterwards, he advertises a public class for the violin, stating his terms, &c., as follows:—“Admittance to the public class one guinea per quarter only. Any gentleman may have a private hour, either at his own lodging or at Mr. Mackintosh’s house in Barranger’s Close, at one guinea per month.” His residence in 1782 is in Burnet’s Close. In 1783 he gave a concert of vocal and instrumental music, at which Mr. Salomon, a celebrated musician of his time, performed several favourite pieces. “Tickets 3/- each at Mr. Mackintosh’s lodgings Advocate’s Close.” Before the close of the year he published his first book, which, along with airs, minuets, and gavottes, contains some excellent reels. In December 1788, he advertises as follows:--“Music Teaching, Robert Mackintosh begs leave most respectfully to inform his friends and the public, that he has again taken up his residence in Edinburgh after an absence of three years during which period he led the band in the Gentlemen’s Concerts at Aberdeen.” “Apply at Bremner and Stewart’s Music Shops.” It was probably while residing in Aberdeen that he became acquainted with Andrew Sherrefs, the author of “Jamie and Bess,” &c., and to whose song, “A cogie o’ ale and a pickle ait-meal,” he composed the air. Mackintosh announced his second book of reels, &c., in February 1793, and the work appeared about two months later, under dedication to Mrs. Campbell of Lochnell; “to be had at his house in Skinner’s Close.” Towards the end of 1794 he advertises a new march, dedicated to Sir Robert Stirling, “to be had at his house head of Skinner’s Close and at Mr. Stewart’s Music shop,” where is is also announced that several other pieces by him are to be had. In 1796, he advertises a third book, which appeared in April of that year, dedicated to Mrs. Oswald of Auchencruive. Whether Mackintosh gave annual concerts has not been ascertained, but in 1798 he advertises that “his ball (in place of a concert) is fixed for Tuesday the 13th in Bernard’s Room Thistle Street &c; Tickets 5/ each at Hyndford’s Close and Stewart & Co. Tea will be provided.” In 1796, he set the music to a song called “Athol Brose,” written by a young Edinburgh gentleman; and in the following year he conducted the orchestra of the Theatre Royal, on the occasion of the performance of “Jamie and Bess,” for the benefit of Andrew Sherrefs, M.A. Mackintosh left Edinburgh about 1803 and went to London, where he resided in Little Vine Street, Piccadilly, and published his fourth book. According to Stenhouse, he died in London in February 1807. Stenhouse states that he was an excellent performer on the violin. However that may be, his numerous compositions stamp him as a musician of the first order in Scottish music.

In his Memoir of Nathaniel Gow, prefixed to the posthumous collection of Niel Gow, Junior, issued in 1837, Joseph M’Gregor has seriously erred regarding certain of his dates: these inaccuracies we desire to set to rights. To quote M’Gregor’s own words:--“At an early age he (i.e. Nathaniel Gow) was sent to Edinburgh, where he continued the study of the violin, first under Robert M’Intosh, or Red Rob, as he was called, until the latter, from his celebrity, was called up to London. He next took lessons from M’Glashan….who was in high estimation as an excellent composer of Scottish airs, and an able and spirited leader of the fashionable bands…Gow’s first professional appearance, it is believed, was in the band conducted by King M’Glashan, in which he played the violincello. After the death of M’Glashan, he continued under his elder brother William Gow, who succeeded as leader,--a situation for which he was well fitted by his bold and spirited style.”

Mackintosh, as previously stated, left Edinburgh for London in 1803, where he resided till his death in 1807.

That Gow could have taken lessons from M’Glashan after 1803 was an impossibility, as the latter died in 1797; neither could William Gow have succeeded M’Glashan after his death as William Gow died in 1791, but it is probable that M’Glashan retired from the leadership about the last mentioned date, and that William Gow held it for a short time.

Instead of Nathaniel Gow being taught my M’Glashan after Mackintosh went to London, it is more than likely to have been after he went to Aberdeen.

By his wife, Margaret Mill, Mackintosh had 13 children, born between 1767 and 1797. Three of these were named Robert, the first being born in 1771, the second in 1774, and the third in 1797. The second and third Roberts were alive at the same time. The former (who followed the musical profession) married an “Edward” Johnston, and on 18th January 1799 a son was born to them, named James.

The Editor ascertains from Mr. James M’Intosh, of Boatlands, near Coupar-Angus, Forfarshire, that he is the great-grandson of James M’Intosh (a brother of Red Rob), who followed the vocation of blacksmith at Tinereoch, in the Vale of Athole (near Tullymet), and had five sons, all of whom were violin players. Of these, John was at one time bandmaster to the 42nd Highlanders (Black Watch), and afterwards settled as a musicseller in Dublin. Another, David, was pipe-major to the 93rd Highlanders; he died in Portugal. The other three nephews did not follow the profession of music.

In Music and Society in Lowland Scotland in the Eighteenth Century (1972), Scottish music historian David Johnson described Robert Mackintosh as "a red-headed, bad-tempered violinist and composer from Perthshire, who habitually gave offence to people he came in contact with." Charles Gore notes that Mackintosh's name is spelled 'Macintosh' only in Book 1 of his four collections, and 'Mackintosh' at all other times.