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Updated 02/14/2020


Victoria Hornpipe

Victoria Hornpipe was first published in the Skye Collection. The famous Skye Collection, which first appeared in 1887 and was later reprinted in a smaller edition, has been out of print for many years. The title page indicates that it included "the best Reels & Strathspeys extant embracing over four hundred tunes collected from all the best sources, compiled and arranged for violin and piano by Dr. Keith Norman Macdonald."

The history of this great music collection goes back over a hundred years. In the 1880s, Keith Norman MacDonald started to gather tunes, both those that were written down and those that had been passed on by ear.

Dr. Keith Norman Macalister MacDonald was born in Sleat, in the Isle of Skye, on the 23rd of November, 1834. He as the third son of Lieutenance Charles Macdonald of Ord and Ann MacLeod, who was the daughter of Captain Neil MacLeod of Gesto. His family was well placed socially and financially on both sides he was privately tutored as a child but he was reared to have a deep regard for Eileen a Cheo (The Misty Isle) and for Gaelic culture in general.

His early years and adolescence appear to have been spent in Skye, but he left to tudy medicin at the University of Edinburgh in 1854. After graduating, in 1858, he returned to Skye to practice as a physician for two years, and then, from 1860, spent the enxt decade balancing work and further medical studies in Lochaber, Wales, Bath, and Prome. In Prome, he was appointed by the Burmese government as a Civil Surgeon, and he took charge of a hospital, a dispensary, and three hundred convicts. He was a prolific writer in medicine.

He married Eliza Mary Niblett in 1872, with whom he had two sons and three daughters. As time went on, his attention turned increasingly to his native culture, language and music. In 1887, while living in Cupar, Fife, he published The Skye Collection. He provided pianoforte arrangements for all of the tunes, which was resumably to make the collection accessible and acceptable to the drawing rooms of the Day. He utilized a range of sources, including well-known fiddle collections, pipe collections, and his own memory of melodies that had been popular on the Isle of Skye.

As a musical editor, he attracted a certain amount of criticism, posthumously at least, due to his not always being a careful proof-reader, and failing to acknowledge consistently the contributions of his contributors.

He died on November 1, 1913 at the age of 78.