The Glenfiddich Solo Piping Championship was established in 1974 to “inspire and stimulate the world’s finest individual pipers and to seek the best overall exponents of ceòl mòr and ceòl beag.”
From the start, the event was a success and it remains the last supreme solo piping championship of the season. Regarding the ceòl mòr competition, Seumas MacNeill noted in the August 1977 Piping Times, shortly before the fourth championship took place, “a thing which has impressed many observers is the continual repetition of several favourite pieces. 50 years ago, for example, it is unlikely that the 12 best players would have produced more than about 20 tunes between them … the total number of tunes put forward by these 12 champions last year  was 47.”
Seumas went on to note that the favourite tune for the last couple of years had been Lament for Mary MacLeod with five of the 12 pipers submitting it. In second place came four tunes, each submitted three times. These were Lament for the Earl of Antrim, Lament for Donald Duaghal MacKay, Lament for MacSwan of Roaig and Scarce of Fishing.
The last time the tunes submitted at the Glenfiddich were analysed was in the August 1985 Piping Times in an article that looked at the 1984 event. That year, ten competitors each submitted six piobaireachds. The relative popularity worked out as follows:
The top tune, with six submissions out of a possible ten, was Lament for the Earl of Antrim. This was followed closely by In Praise of Morag, offered by five pipers, and The Lament for the Children which was put in four times.
The order of popularity was:
1. Lament for the Earl of Antrim (6)
2. In Praise of Morag (5)
3. Lament for the Children (4)
4.= The Unjust Incarceration, Rory MacLeod’s Lament and The Old Men of the Shells (3)
7.= I Got a Kiss of the King’s Hand, Lord Lovat’s Lament, MacDougalls’ Gathering, MacLeod of Colbecks Lament, MacSwan of Roaig, Lament for Mary MacLeod and Ronald MacDonald of Morar (2)
As we see, by 1984, Lament for Mary MacLeod, had slipped in popularity. In addition, 22 tunes were submitted once only, making the total of 60 altogether.
Fast forward 35 years and at the 2019 Glenfiddich ten competitors each submitted six piobaireachds. A total of 38 tunes were submitted with Donald Gruamach’s March the most popular tune. Four competitors submitted it. Mary MacLeod had now fallen off the list completely.
The relative popularity worked out as follows:
1. Donald Gruamach’s March (4)
2.= The Daughter’s Lament, Lachlan MacNeill Campbell of Kintarbert’s Fancy, The Old Men of the Shells, The Edinburgh Piobaireachd and The Lament for Ronald MacDonald of Morar (3).
7.= Craigellachie, Lament for the Children, The Earl of Ross’s March, Lament for Donald Duaghal MacKay, MacLeod of Colbecks’ Lament, Lament for the Earl of Antrim, Scarce of Fishing, Rory MacLoude’s Lament, The End of the Great Bridge (2).
16.= MacLeod of MacLeod’s Lament, The Battle of Auldearn (No 1), Lament for the Union, The Stewart’s White Banner, The Blind Piper’s Obstinacy, I Got a Kiss of the King’s Hand, Nameless (Cherede Darievea), Lament for the Laird of Anapool, Lament for John MacDonald, Inverness, Lament for Colin Roy MacKenzie, Lament for the Viscount of Dundee, Battle of Bealach nam Bròg, Battle of Auldearn No. 2, Lady Margaret MacDonald’s Salute, The Big Spree, The Battle of the Pass of Crieff, Lord Lovat’s Lament, The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute, Farewell to the Queen’s Ferry, Lament for Patrick Òg MacCrimmon, The Unjust Incarceration, In Praise of Morag, Lament for the Duke of Hamilton (1).
* This year’s Glenfiddich takes place on October 31. The online ticket price is £15.00. Go online to www.thepipingcentre.co.uk/glenfiddich
• Callum Beaumont plays Lament for Ronald MacDonald of Morar at the 2015 Glenfiddich.