Donald Morrison Archive: A Final Look at His Music, Newspaper Clippings and Letters

This will be our final instalment from Donald’s archive for now. It ties in neatly with the publication of his book of tunes announced last week (above). For earlier articles in this series type ‘Donald Morrison’ in our search field.

We begin with another letter from Seton Gordon, the piping judge, naturalist and friend of royalty. It is dated November 6, 1973 and he writes to Donald from Upper Duntuilm, Skye: ‘Dear Donald Morrison, That is a rare feat to win the Feadan at Dunvegan [the Silver Chanter] and the Bratach Gorm in London in two months. Well done indeed!

‘I am not surprised after hearing you at Dunvegan, for, as I told you, I got that very beautiful piobaireachd ‘Donald Duaghal’ very carefully from John MacDonald [Inverness], so it was a happy experience to listen to you at Dunvegan.

The start of the letter

‘What did you play in London? I congratulate the judges also. I am sure Bob Nicol is delighted at your success.

‘I have not played this year, but I am glad Angus MacPherson [Invershin], who is nine years my senior, writes that he played a piob last week, the first since his long illness.

‘We had an exceptionally wild day yesterday but less snow than during the strange mid-October fall.

‘Best wishes to you and you will now have just that little bit of confidence that I got when the King gave me the CBE long ago! Yours sincerely, Seton Gordon.’

Two newspaper clippings from the Oban Times dated 1965:

South Uist games report and results – no date given but believed to be the late 1950s. Note the presence of Allan Dodd, New Zealand, and also a young John MacDougall and Iain MacFadyen:

‘South Uist Games; Piping Shows a Big Improvement; Although it rained for days before and later, the weather on Tuesday was ideal for the South Uist Games. As usual they were held on Askernish Machair, and there was a big improvement in the public attendance as well as in the various competitions especially the piping and piobaireachd.

Pipe Major Donald Morrison won five cups…The judges were Sheriff Grant, Rothiemurchus, Dr Simpson and Pipe Major John MacDonald [S Uist].

Donald at the games

Piobaireachd: 1 RU Brown 2 John MacDougall 3 Donald Morrison 4 Donald MacLean 5 Ian Fraser
March: 1 John MacDougall 2 RU Brown 3 Donald Morrison 4 Allan Dodd [NZ] 5 L/Cpl Iain MacFadyen
S&R: 1 Donald Morrison 2 John MacDougall 3 Iain MacFadyen 4 RU Brown 5 Alfred Morrison
Jigs: 1 Donald Morrison 2 Allan Dodd 3 John MacDougall 4 Andrew MacKillop

Donald’s copies of the tunes The Vaunting and The Unjust Incarceration with the prizes they gained him, and some timings, noted:

Top left there is the inscription ‘Very nearly as Brown taught’. The results are 1st N Uist 1959, 1st Mull 1958, 1st Aboyne 1964, 2nd Oban 1965 and 1st Aberdeen 1967
The inscription top left reads, ‘Wild tune!! to be played fast’. Prizes noted are 1st Braemar, 3rd Clasp, Inverness 1965, 1st North Uist 1969, 1st Aberdeen 1971

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