Alec Sim

1870 – 1954



From ‘Piping and Fiddling’ BBC Radio Times for broadcast on 31 May 1935:

Alec Sim has spent most of his life in Aberdeen. At first taught by his father to play the violin, he studied under foreign teachers and has had the honour of playing before Their Majesties at Balmoral. He was violinist in Miss Lena Ashwell ‘s first Scottish Firing Line Concert Party which toured the North of France for two months during the Great War. He is the author of a number of popular compositions, such as ‘Wind on the Heath ‘ and The Laverock’s Nest

From ‘Scottish Dance Music’ BBC Radio Times for 7 August 1939:

Alec Sim’s Scottish Septet
Alec Sim has lived in his native Aberdeen for the greater part of his life and has been playing the violin for as long as he can remember. He disagrees with advocates of the bagpipe, claiming that the fiddle is the true national instrument of Scotland. He has played his own violin before the King and Queen at Balmoral, has appeared at Queen’s Hall, London, was violinist in Lena Ashwell’s first Scottish Firing-Line Concert Party which toured the North of France for two months during the Great War, was for several years leader of the now defunct Aberdeen University Orchestra, and is now conductor of the Aberdeen Strathspey and Reel Society. His Septet is a permanent combination consisting entirely of strings. Sim is critical of the older generation of Scottish fiddlers. “You know how the old fiddler sawed up and murdered our music”, he says. “We are trying to get away from this and to play it with the same care that one would play Bach or Beethoven.

Aberdeen Strathspey and Reel Society
This Society was founded in January, 1928, by Alec Sim , a distinguished Aberdeen violinist. He has played annually at the ghillies’ ball held in Balmoral for the past thirty-seven years.
Edinburgh and Glasgow have had societies for over fifty years, and Alec Sim felt that he would be fulfilling a much-needed want in the North-East by establishing a similar society there. Such a revival of interest in Scottish country dance music has been created that similar organisations are now springing up all over the North-East and as far South as Perthshire.
The Aberdeen Strathspey and Reel Society has been broadcasting for ten years, almost ever since it was founded.’ It makes public appearances in Aberdeen and the surrounding districts, and its popularity would seem to be increasing steadily. Its list of patrons is a distinguished one, and has included the Duke of Atholl, the late Duke of Richmond and Gordon, the late Mr. J. Ramsay Macdonald, and Kreisler, the violinist.

Alec Sim recorded a number of sides for the Belton label in Peckham in mid October 1928. He recorded four more in the ballroom of Aberdeen Music Hall, probably in November 1932 at the same time as the six sides recorded by Aberdeen Strathspey and Reel Society. In these session piano was most likely played by Annie Shand.

It is interesting to note his playing fiddle with the miniature Scottish bagpipes of Pipe-Major Charles Smith in a radio concert from BBC Aberdeen in December 1934.

The Auld House / The Miller of Drone / The Mason’s Apron

From Beltona 78 rpm record 1411 M11875.

The Flowers of the Forest / The Miller o’ Hirn / The Fairy Dance

From Beltona 78 rpm record 1411 M11876.

The Music of Spey / The Banks of Spey / Tullybardines Reel

From Beltona 78 rpm record 1410 M11877.

The Braes o’ Auchtertyre / Monymusk / Merry May the Pair Be

From Beltona 78 rpm record 1410 M11886.