Queen Victoria's Visit, 1842

George IV stayed at Dalkeith Palace during his visit in 1822, but the bulk of the musical entertainment for him took place in Edinburgh. One of these events was described:

On one occasion Neil Gow's band of Scottish musicians was summoned to attend his Majesty during dinner. The young Duke, who was present with Lord Montagu, Sir Walter Scott, and a select company of gentlemen, was frequently employed by his Majesty in carrying requests for the execution of certain airs, and the King on one occasion, slapping him on the shoulder, said, "Come, Buccleuch, you are the youngest man in the company, and must make yourself useful".

The one mention of music at Dalkeith in the official book of his visit was for the 28th of August, and doesn't say what tunes he heard:

The remainder of the day his Majesty spent at Dalkeith; and in the course of the evening entertained a select party, who were amused with the presence of twelve Highlanders, who danced strathspeys and reels to the bagpipes, with which his Majesty appeared highly delighted.

But we do know what was played at Queen Victoria's first visit in 1842. She kept well away from Holyrood because of a recent death from scarlet fever there; it was surrounded by irrigated ponds of raw sewage at the time. Disaster and farce followed anyway. The arrival was bungled, when the Provost and Council of Edinburgh didn't realize when she was arriving and missed her entrance. The Earl of Errol was nearly run over by the Queen's carriage, and her bodyguard mistook the city's honour guard for a gang of assassins, leading to a near-fatal brawl. All of this mess was marked by satirical ballads in Edinburgh, like the satire Jemmie Forrest on Lord Provost James Forrest, which ends with him on his way to Dalkeith to apologize to the Queen.

And two people were killed and 50 injured in a stand collapse in Edinburgh. But everything seems to have gone smoothly once she got to Dalkeith, and later when she travelled onwards with the Buccleuchs.

Six Scottish Reels Danced at Dalkeith Palace and Taymouth Castle is a sheet of simple piano arrangements of Scottish tunes. Four of them are familiar old tunes. One was a few decades old: The Duchess of Sutherland's Reel was called The Countess of Sutherland's Reel by its composer Daniel Dow; it must have been written before 1784 when the Gows reprinted it. The Duchess of Sutherland was, in real terms, the richest woman in Scottish history, and probably the most-hated since Mary Queen of Scots, as a result of her vicious role in the Highland Clearances. From Queen Victoria's journals it seems that she was not present at Dalkeith, only joining the Queen later in the tour. The Duchess of Buccleuch's Reel, in a more modern style, was probably written for the occasion; it was later used for the song Donal Don ("May you never lack a scone"). I've left the tunes in the original keys; these are usually too high for the fiddle but work on the flute.

The Dalkeith Palace Waltzes are by Joseph Labitzky (1802-1881), a composer who spent most of his career conducting the orchestra at Europe's poshest spa town, Karlsbad (now Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic). Between 1840 and 1850 he shadowed every move of the British Royal Family with waltzes. His catalogue for those years includes Jubelklänge aus Albion, on the birth of the Princess Royal; Albert-Walzer; Sutherland-Walzer; Eduard-Walzer, on the birth of the Prince of Wales; Homage to the British Nation; Montrose-Walzer; Bedford Waltzes; Liverpool-Walzer; Victoria-Walzer; Balmoral Waltzes on Victoria's first visit there; and Royal Exhibition Waltzes. Poor Victoria couldn't go to the loo without Labitzky writing a waltz about it. This particular set, which in its piano version had a prelude based on Scots Wha Hae, seems to have caught on; a flute transcription of three waltzes from it was published by John Cameron in Glasgow about 1880, and that's the version I've included here.

The Queen returned to Dalkeith in 1859 and 1872, but there is no record of what music she heard then.

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Music of Dalkeith
Copyright © 2001, Jack Campin