A new publication containing all of Pipe Major Donald MacLeod’s piobaireachd compositions is to be published in time for this year’s Piping Live! festival.

In the late 1970s, the legendary piper from the Isle of Lewis published Book 1 of his compositions. Sadly, there was to be no follow up as he died in June 1982. As Donald’s daughters, Susan and Fiona put it, “Tragically, we will never know the volume and quality of what might have followed, but it would, no doubt, have been significant, given his work ethic.” A few tunes had been published elsewhere.

Earlier this year, Susan and Fiona approached John Wilson (a long-term pupil of MacLeod’s), Roddy MacLeod and Alan Forbes with the idea of bringing all their father’s piobaireachd compositions together in one place. The extra tunes are: Sandy MacPherson’s Salute, Peter James MacInnes’s Lullaby, Lament for John Morrison of Assynt House, MacMhurich’s Salute, Queen Elizabeth the Second’s Salute, Cabar Feidh Gu Brath and Lament for John MacDonald, Inverness.

John Wilson with Fiona and Susan at the 2016 College of Piping Lecture held in Birnam.
John Wilson with Fiona and Susan at the 2016 College of Piping Lecture held in Birnam.

The resultant publication will be launched during Piping Live! Wilson is to play one of the tunes at his Piobaireachd of the Day recital at The National Piping Centre Otago Street at 3.30pm on Tuesday, August 13.

Pipe Major Donald MacLeod MBE is considered to be one of the greatest pipers of the 20th century and a complete all-rounder. He was tutored by John Morrison of Assynt House in Stornoway then by Pipe Major Willie Ross, and then John MacDonald of Inverness.

He joined the British Army in 1937, and went to France in 1940 with the 2nd Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders in the British Expeditionary Force. Captured as a prisoner of war during the surrender at St. Valery-en-Caux, he escaped during the march to Germany and returned to France in 1944 as Pipe Major of the 7th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders.

MacLeod won the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in Inverness in 1947 and at the Argyllshire Gathering in Oban in 1954. After leaving the British Army in 1963, he moved to Glasgow and became a partner in Grainger and Campbell, a Glasgow bagpipe-manufacturing firm of the time. He published six volumes of light music.

He was made Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1978. With his wife Winnie he had two daughters, Susan and Fiona.

The Donald MacLeod Memorial Competition is an invitational piping competition held in his memory on Lewis since 1994. It is organised by the Lewis & Harris Piping Society and the Point and Sandwick Trust, both of whom have made a financial contribution towards the cost of the new book’s publication.

In recent years, MacLeod’s piobaireachd compositions have been set by the Piobaireachd Society for competition.