David Charles (“D.C.”) Mather

(1870-1943)

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played on three cylindrical recordings that have long since disappeared (the only recordings he ever made) were as yet unpublished D. C. Mather tunes.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.

4 Comments

  • Hi
    David Mather was my great great uncle. I am also a professional musician as is my partner and my son is a composer. Do you know who his publisher is or can you tell me any more about him. He was the brother of my great grandmother Louisa Mather
    Thanks
    Jenny UK

    • I know nothing more about David Mather than what is in the bio. Not sure he would have had a publisher. He had a small output of tunes that eventually found their way into books of pipe music. JM

  • Anne VanHouten Craig

    David Mather was a friend of my mothers. Her father had a ranch on the Madison Range in Montana. Mr Mather had a mine there and lived near his mines. During the summer months my mother had to tend her father’s sheep. The grazing spot was near Mr Mathers home. She said she would often visit him. He called her Bo Peep. He would always open a can of salmon and serve her lunch with tea, real canned milk and biscuits— the English kind.
    She knew him to be a kind a prosperous man, as it was during the depression years and all she had for lunch was a chokecherry jelly sandwich. She would tell us many stories of Mr Mather. Once in a letter to her, he told her that if anyone ever tried to give her any trouble,, she was to tell them that “Davy Mather was a frind of mine”.

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