David Charles (“D.C.”) Mather


Known to pipers as “D.C. Mather,” this prolific composer of bagpipe music was born in London, where he attended  the London Caledonian School being taught by John MacKenzie (c. 1831-1904), who was a nephew of John Ban MacKenzie and who won the Prize Pipe at Inverness in 1874 and the Gold Medal there in 1876.

Mather was later taught by Robert Meldrum and John MacDougall Gillies. He served at various times as piper to MacDougall of Lunga, Admiral Campbell of Craignish and the Murrays of Lochcarron.

He died in Montana, having moved to the U.S. by way of Canada in 1901 to prospect for gold.

Thought of usually as a composer, he was a superb player, a successful competitor and all-rounder as well, competing in Highland dancing and athletic events. He won the Gold Medal at Oban in 1891 and at the Prize Pipe at Inverness in 1899. He continued to compete in North America well into his 60s, and the photo shows him at his mining claim in Montana bedecked in awards in 1936.

Among his most popular compositions are the reelsLoch Carron, Willie Cummings Rant and The Man from Glengarry, the strathspey Climbing Dunaquaich and the competition march The Stornoway Highland Gathering.

D.C. MatherIn the April 1969 issue of the Piping Times, D.R. MacLennan, half-brother to G.S. McLennan recalled these words G.S. had shared with him about the playing of D. C. Mather:

George had always a great regard for D. C. Mather and often told me that “David Mather never really got justice when competing at the Games in Scotland.”

The two were quite close before Mather left for the US. Two of the 8 tunes G.S. played on three cylindrical recordings that have long since disappeared (the only recordings he ever made) were as yet unpublished D. C. Mather tunes.

JM, October 2006, December 2014.
-with notes from ‘Piping Times’, April 1969, January 1974, February 2005, August 2005, and private communication with Dr. William Donaldson.

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