December 31, 2009

Updated: Walter Drysdale, 1924-2009

We regret to report the death of Walter Drysdale of Methil, Scotland, on November 27th, age 85, after a lengthy bout with illness.
Drysdale was most known over the last 40 years for his judging around the Scottish games, and for his teaching. His pupils included many successful competitive solo pipers, including Stuart Samson, Allan Russell and Gordon McCready.
His competitive career was most successful during the years following World War II, featuring in the prize lists around the games. His biggest prize was winning the March competition in 1954 at the Argyllshire Gathering.
Stuart Samson, MBE, provided a few thoughts about his teacher, Walter Drysdale:
There is no doubt that Walter will be greatly missed. He was a wealth of musical knowledge. The experience he had gained over his life as a Senior Judge and a highly respected teacher he put to good use, he was only too willing to pass on his knowledge to all his pupils, who were many over the years.
Walter was a very successful solo competitor in his early years and won many prizes against some of the great pipers of that time. He was well known as a great light music player, especially the competition march. But it is also fair to say that he was an excellent piobaireachd player. He let me see a notebook once that has a diary of all the prizes he had won during his short competition span. The names of the other pipers he was beating at these competitions said it all. Walter gave up competing at the age of 35 to concentrate on a responsible manager’s position in Open Cast mining, and was responsible for large numbers of workers in this industry.
I am sure if he continued to compete he would have continued to excel to the top.
Later in his life he started judging and teaching. He was highly respected by his fellow judges and he also was responsible for giving invaluable musical guidance to a number of privileged pipers who were under his instruction. Murray Henderson, Gordon Duncan, Gordon McCready, George Taylor, David Wilton and myself, to name a few. There are many others, and I apologize for any names I have not mentioned.
His knowledge of piobaireachd and the different styles of tunes that one would hear being played was outstanding. He was always studying piobaireachd and listening and marking up his books as to the different styles. No matter who played piobaireachd in front of him in a competition he would be able to relate to the style being played or attempted to being played and this in my opinion made him a very fair and open-minded judge.
He will be sadly missed by all.




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