John Peter MacLeod


J. P. MacLeod at The Argyllshire Gathering in Oban around 1906.

Very little public information exists on this composer. J.D. Ross Watt wrote this appreciation in the Oban Times at the time of J. P. MacLeod’s death:

The deceased was a chemist in Tain. Besides being a performer upon several instruments, he was well known as a piper of great merit, being a gold medallist of Inverness. His knowledge of pibroch music was profound, as also was his deep knowledge of canntaireachd, which he could read very well indeed, and had been making a deeper study of during recent years… a genial and unselfish man… Mr. MacLeod had in view the possible publishing of an original work of his to be called the “Anthology of the Pipe and its Music,” and from his knowledge of harp music, violin and Scots music, as well as pipe music of all kinds, this would have proved most interesting to the piping fraternity at large.

Mr. MacLeod had an idea that pibroch would be restored when modern pipers regained a knowledge of the old modes of music, and it was his ambition to guide pibroch players into this knowledge which he claimed had become lost owing to the modern ear having changed by listening to modern music so much, and to become a good player one had to create one’s atmosphere to a great extent. Mr. MacLeod once told the writer he knew a player who could compose pibroch right off the ree, so to speak. Others hold that piboch composition has died out simply from being out of fashion, but if asked for them it can be got.

J.P. MacLeod won the Gold Medal at Inverness in 1907. His chemist’s shop was in Tain. In her 1998 publication Piping Traditions of the North of Scotland, Bridget MacKenzie reports:

He had a marked resemblance to King Edward VII, and believed himself to be the king’s natural son. This was probably so: his mother was a maid at Pitcalnie, one of the big houses in Easter Ross, where Edward, as Prince of Wales, used to stay. A number of the Prince’s natural children, associated with different big houses in the Highlands, can be identified.

It is believed that Angus MacPherson was his teacher while Angus was piper to Andrew Carnegie at the Skibo estate prior to 1905.

JM, 2007
-‘Oban Times’ reference provided by Dr. William Donaldson


  • Dave Rischmiller

    Hi Jim, I have an old copy of Donald McPhees Book 1 of Piobaireachd, owned (signature) by Donald MacLeod of Tain 1890. As you surely know Donald was a Pipemaker in Tain, succeeded by his son Torquil, I don’t believe Donald and John Peter were directly related however, although both MacLeods and both shopkeepers in Tain, which is a small place now let alone at the end of the 19th C.

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *