Songs I Love: Neil Gow’s Lament for his Second Wife

This is a tune that love rather than a song. It is a tune that has been in the repertoire of almost every Scottish fiddle player since the beginning of the nineteenth century. First a bit of the history of the tune.

Neil Gow was the most famous Scottish fiddle player and composer of the eighteenth century. His first wife, as often happened at that time died young, and in 1768 he married for a second time, to Margaret Urquhart. They had a long and happy marriage until she died in 1805. After she died, according to the story, Neil Gow was so devastated that he stopped playing the fiddle for a time. The first tune that he played on picking up his fiddle again was this one.

I chose Sir Yehudi Menuhin’s version for two reasons;

  1. it is a pretty good version and
  2. the finest version I ever heard of the tune was as far as I know never recorded.

Bob Hopkirk the guy who performed that version, did, however play with Yehudi Menuhin on one occasion, and may even have taught him how to play it.

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