George McBain Farquarson Davie (1879-1950) was born at Breda House, Alford, on 1 March 1879 and baptized at Alford on 11 April. He was named after the owner of Breda, a 54-year-old retired officer in the Indian Army, for whom his father was working as gamekeeper.
Very shortly after his birth, the family, which now numbered seven, moved to the rather cramped gamekeeper’s lodge at Roseacre House in Portsoy. It was here that George attended school, and here that he learned to enjoy swimming in the sea. By far the greatest influence in his life, though, was the violinist, composer and dancing master, James Scott Skinner (1843-1927), who was a great friend of the family and used to stay with them at Roseacre. George had violin lessons from Scott Skinner at the age of four, and was playing at concerts when he was nine.
He left school early, and when he was fourteen moved to Aberdeen, where he trained as a piano tuner with J. Marr, Wood and Co. Ltd. (John Marr had turned from cabinet-making to piano building in the 1820s, and had established himself in business in Union Street. His firm had been taken over Selby, Wood and Co. around 1890. Marr, Wood suppied music and pianos to Balmoral, and described themselves as ‘musical instrument makers by appointment’). He qualified at fifteen and became their head tuner. He is said to have tuned all the Royal pianos at Balmoral, and the Duke of Fife’s at Mar Lodge, and all the gentry’s on Donside and Deeside.
In 1920 George left Marr, Wood to set up in business on his own, taking the clientele he had built up with him. He was particularly well-known in Strathdon. In 1927 he opened a musicseller’s shop at 9 Rose Street (his neighbours were a milliner and a tobacconist) – after 1934 at 9 Rosemount Viaduct, but after 1937 he operated from home. He described himself in 1932 as a maker of musical instruments. As well as tuning pianos and organs, and selling music and instruments, he also taught the violin.
In addition he was a member of a sextet, which broadcast a lot on Scottish programmes. For example, on 28 January 1938, listeners to the Scottish Home Service could have tuned into half an hour of Scottish dance music from “George Davie’s Sextet” at 9.20 p.m. The sextet was led by Mrs Annie Shand, who played the piano. Before the war, they performed regularly at Balmoral Castle, and provided music for the Scottish dances at the Ghillies’ Ball. The band undertook a number of London engagements, and had frequent bookings for making gramophone records. These were used extensively by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society for rehearsals.
The above information and image is from George’s grandson Hector Davie who has provided a link to other information here.
From 78 rpm record [Beltona 6142 M551] Recorded Kintore Rooms, 74 Queen Street, Edinburgh, c. July 1936. With Annie Shand, piano.
From 78 rpm record [Beltona 6142 M552] Recorded Kintore Rooms, 74 Queen Street, Edinburgh, c July 1936. With Annie Shand, piano.
Mrs Grant’s Fancy
From 78 rpm record [Beltona 6136 M359] Recorded Kintore Rooms, 74 Queen Street, Edinburgh, c. late 1934. With Annie Shand, piano.
From 78 rpm record [Beltona 6136 B360] Recorded Kintore Rooms, 74 Queen Street, Edinburgh, c. late 1934. With Annie Shand, piano.