Road to the Isles, The

John McLellan
Slow Air

One of the most popular pipe tunes ever, and long a staple of massed bands at Highland Games throughout North America. It began as “The Bens of Jura,” written in Malta in the mid-1890s. According to Seumas MacNeill’s in “Masters of Piping (2007), it subsequently became “The 71st’s Farewell to Dover” but soon returned to its original name. Later it was “The Highland Brigade’s March to Heilbron,” then “The Burning Sands of Egypt.” These titles were all stuck to it by pipers, with whom the tune was immediately popular. But the composer referred to it always as “The Bens of Jura.”



1 Comment

  • That was very beautifully played, and he only breathed in three times. My dad played The Road to the Isles quite nicely, too. He taught himself for 20 years, then went to the College of Piping in Glasgow, where he was politely told he’d have to start from scratch if he wanted to become a decent piper. Being an ex-military man he did just that, and played in the New Year at his local pub only two years before he died at age 87.

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