Published by Authority, in 1792

Karen has been trawling for digitized copies of Gow strathspey publications, eagerly hunting for more ingratiating dedications.  To no avail, so far – she’ll have to go and look at “real” copies of the books that haven’t been digitized! However, that doesn’t mean she didn’t unearth interesting nuggets of information.

In 1792, Niel Gow published his A Third Collection of Strathspey Reels &c for the Piano-forte, Violin and Violoncello.  Dedicated on the title-page to The Marchioness of Tweeddale, there is no additional prefatory commentary on the first page.  But the first interesting fact is that the harp isn’t listed amongst the instruments.  Indeed, a tiny little footnote on p.1 whispers, ‘NB. The small Notes throughtout the Book shows the Chords for the Piano-Forte.’  (Although the piano was gaining popularity, it wasn’t etirely ‘bye-bye harp’, for it was still being mentioned in the Gows’ Complete Repository books.)

And the second interesting thing is this: apparently for the first time, he made a copyright statement at the bottom of the first page:

“The Author thinks proper to mention, that the Tunes which are not Composed by him are Published by Authority of the Different Composers, which has induced him to secure the Book in Stationers Hall According to Act of Parliament.”

And sure enough, Michael Kassler’s index, Music Entries at Stationers’ Hall 1710-1818 shows the book listed there on 7 March 1792.  The amount of music being submitted had started to rise significantly after 1784, and maybe by this time the Gows had decided it was time to jump on the bandwagon.  However, there isn’t another Gow publication listed until 11 January 1800, when Niel’s son Nathaniel submitted Lady Mary Ramsay’s Strathspey, and the Earl of Dalhousie’s Reel. A new medley, danced at the Edinburgh Assembly, etc., etc., Composed by Nathaniel Gow. To which is added, Three favorite Tunes.  Again, on 3 June 1801, Niel Gow’s A Fourth Collection of Strathspey Reels, etc was listed in the Stationers’ Hall book.

The Gows must have submitted their publications somewhat spasmodically.  Maybe the London brother, John, took a whole bundle at once, for Parts 2 and 3 of the Repository along with the 4th and 5th Collection of Strathspeys were all listed in Stationers’ Hall on 6 October 1815.

Kassler’s listing ends in 1818, because one of his sources was music impresario William Hawes’ manuscript, ‘A List of Music Entered at Stationers’ Hall, from January 1, 1789, to January 1, 1819′. (see Kassler (2004), vii-xxviii)  And this means that the whole Gow publishing history remains, to date, only partially documented.  The Bass Culture project will amplify it to some extent, but the full story remains to be told in future!

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