Castle Recordings

Captain John A. MacLellan MBE

From 1964 to 1968, the legendary piper, composer, leader and teacher Captain John A. MacLellan MBE diligently captured his renditions of some 120 piobaireachds at his offices at the Army School of Piping at Edinburgh Castle.

Using a reel-to-reel Ferrograph tape recorder, MacLellan prioritized what he considered to be the most important tunes in his expansive repertoire. His interpretations are very much his own, but with the firm grounding he received from countless hours of instruction from Pipe-Major Willie Ross, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards.

Ross preceded MacLellan as director of the Army School of Piping and the prestigious title of Senior Pipe-Major of the British Army.

Before running the Army School from 1959 to 1974, teaching and training dozens of regimental pipers in the famed Pipe-Majors’ Course at the Castle, MacLellan made his mark as one of history’s greatest solo competition pipers.

At the Northern Meeting, he won the Clasp twice and the Silver Star Former Winners MSR four times. He won the Bratach Gorm and the Former Winners MSR five times at London. At the Argyllshire Gathering, he captured two Senior/Open Piobaireachd and four Former Winners MSR titles.

The reel-to-reel Ferrograph recorder Captain MacLellan used to make the recordings between 1964 and 1968.

In 1958, MacLellan was the first and so far, only piper to gain the Grand Slam of solo piping by winning the Inverness Clasp and Silver Star and the Senior Piobaireachd and Former Winners MSR at Oban.

He published six collections of music and instruction texts and founded and edited the important International Piper magazine for 10 years. Since he died in 1991, MacLellan’s piobaireachd compositions have taken their rightful place alongside the greatest works of ceol mor, and are now heard regularly in competitions and recitals worldwide.

Captain MacLellan’s equally famous son, Colin Roy MacLellan, inherited his father’s piping estate. Among the historically essential pieces are the magnetic tapes of the 120 piobaireachds Captain MacLellan recorded, which Colin MacLellan had digitized to ensure their preservation.

pipes|drums is honoured to maintain this sensational archive, making the audio files available to all who wish to enjoy and learn from them.


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