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Sunday, December 15, 2019 @ 14:00 - 15:00

£10 – £12

Cellist Alice Allen and violinist Katrina Lee have been playing together since they met in their early twenties in Glasgow. Their experiences as professional classical musicians led them to question whether the patriarchal conventions of their industry deny women creative privilege, and to look back at the history of these traditions. Working with a researcher through National Libraries of Scotland resources, the duo have found a rich seam of music believed to have been written by women in 18th-century Scotland, many of which are simply credited to anonymous ‘young ladies’. They are now arranging and performing this music, giving these composers’ lives and works the attention they deserve.






Catherine E. White; A New Sonata for the Piano Forte, Violin or German Flute arranged for cello and violin (for more information about Catherine see below)

Maconchy; Duo – theme and variations for violin and cello

Rebecca Clarke; Lullaby and Grotesque

Kodaly; cello and violin duo op.7


Tickets are £12 (£10 for PCAA members) from the cafe at 4 West Street or on line by clicking HERE


Supported by






Female tune composers during the Golden Age of Scottish Fiddle Music


Part One: Catherine E. White’s ‘Collection of Original Strathspey Reels’ and sonata.


Amongst the most impressive of several tune collections by female musicians from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Scotland is a volume composed by an anonymous ‘Young Lady’, published by Urbani and Liston in Edinburgh in 1804:


A Collection of Original Strathspey Reels, with Variations, Waltzes, Marches, Irish Airs & Co. and A New Sonata for the Piano Forte, Violin or German Flute[1]


A perusal of the contents of this volume shows that the anonymous ‘young lady’ was no mere dilettante, but a talented composer of sophisticated music. The collection shows an

impressive scope of contemporary traditional styles, including variation sets on Scottish tunes – often incorporating difficult pianistic writing – a skilfully-handled range of dance forms and military pieces, and tunes in the style of Scottish and Irish national airs. The collection opens with a three-movement ‘Sonata’ which effectively merges ideas from classical-era sonata form and idioms popular in vernacular collection. An opening march marked Maestoso is in rondo form, returning to iterations of a melody evoking the sound of trumpet calls. The second movement is opens with a song-like Andantino, based on a theme in the style of a Scots tune, followed by ten art-music style variations, variously setting the tune with different accompaniments, rhythmic figuration, melodic divisions, and a shift to the minor key. The Finale is thematically related to the slow movement, but in a faster Allegretto, evoking the feel of a country dance or reel.


Female musicians have been largely ignored in the written history of Scottish fiddle music, particularly during its ‘Golden Age’ of c. 1770-1830. Along with several other volumes, this publication offers a highly significant insight into little-explored fiddle music by female composers. A revival of this repertoire and a greater exploration of the lives of its composers will encourage a reconsideration of the place of women within the history of Scottish Fiddle repertoire and the canon of Scottish traditional music.


One of the reasons women have not been accepted into the narrative of ‘Golden Age’ Scottish fiddle music is due to their anonymity, with the majority of tunes and collections being published by unnamed ‘ladies’.


In the case of the above collection, a slightly more concrete biography is possible. As noted on the title page, the volume was ‘entered into Stationers Hall’, the legal deposit libraries that functioned as the copyright of the day. Whilst many publishers made this claim without entering a copy of their book, fortunately this volume was entered, on 17 August 1804 by one Catherine E. White, presumably the anonymous ‘Young Lady’ composer.[2]


[1] Digital copy available from National Library of Scotland online collections: https://digital.nls.uk/specialcollectionsofprintedmusic/archive/104408113.

[2] Michael Kassler, Music Entries at Stationers’ Hall, 1710–1818: From Lists Prepared for William Hawes, D.W. Krummel and Alan Tyson and from Other Sources. (London and New York: Taylor & Francis, 2016), 529.


Sunday, December 15, 2019
14:00 - 15:00
£10 – £12




West St Arts Centre
4 West Street
Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 9DL United Kingdom
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