William Mackenzie Murdoch

b. 1871    d. 1923

The son of the minor Glasgow poet and historian of the fiddle in Scotland, Alexander G. Murdoch, he had a background in the Glasgow Good Templars Harmonic Association and studied under the Dutch musician Herr Sons, leader of the Scottish Orchestra. A noted composer and arranger of songs and airs he was known for his brilliant and emotive playing in the modern tradition of James Scott Skinner and attracted the name “The Scotch Paganini”. A highly popular concert performer he toured with various concert parties and Scottish character performers such as William Frame and, from 1896, with Harry Lauder who was to become a close friends and musical partner. He made a number of gramophone records. Lauder wrote of him in 1919:

I’ll always swear by Murdoch as the best violinist Scotland ever produced. Maybe Ysaye and some of the boys with the unpronounceable Russian names can play better than he. I’ll no be saying as to that. But I know that he could win the tears from your een when he played the old Scots melodies; I know that his bow was dipped in magic before he drew it across the strings, and that he played on the strings of your heart the while he scraped that old fiddle of his.

Drunken Piper

From 78 rpm disk Regal G6753 matrix 28936.