Obituary: P/M Angus MacDonald

ANGUS MacDONALD was a gifted piper and teacher who, in always giving more generously of himself than most, became larger than life. He was one of the best known and most colourful characters of the piping world.

Born in Cardonald, Glasgow, in 1938, he was introduced to the bagpipes by his father, Alexander ("Alick") MacDonald, a former Cameron Highlander and a well-known piper with the Glasgow Police Pipe Band. In the military atmosphere of Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, Angus had further instruction from Pipe Major George Sanderson, and became Boy Pipe Major in the school's pipe band.

In 1953, at the age of 15, he joined the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and was soon receiving his piping tuition from some of the leading military pipers of the day: the brothers K.G. and J.S. Roe, both Scots Guards' Pipe Majors in their time, Pipe Major Alexander MacDonald, who was the Sovereign's personal piper, and Captain John MacLellan.

Angus MacDonald's 27-year military career would take him to France, Borneo, Malaya, Sharjah, Germany, Kenya and Northern Ireland and to the pinnacles of piping. From 1960, he became increasingly prominent on the solo piping competitions circuit, going on to win all of piping's major prizes, some of them several times over. By 1965, he had been promoted to Pipe Major and Household Piper to the Queen.

In 1980, he was promoted WO1 and posted as the senior instructor to the Army School of Bagpipe Music and personal piper to the GOC and Governor, Edinburgh Castle. So well liked was he in the Scots Guards that, despite the regiment's strict traditions of correctness, formality and discipline, officers routinely called and referred to him by his first name.

From 1974, he piped with the widely touring and highly regarded civilian British Caledonian Airways Pipe Band (now the ScottishPower Pipe Band), and in 1983 was appointed MBE for services to piping.

When Lismor Records of Glasgow brought out its first World's Greatest Pipers album, the featured piper was P/M Angus MacDonald, and the groundbreaking album - rated the best piping recording to have been released to that time - opened the door, and an international market, to further recordings of solo pipe music at the highest of performance levels.

After leaving the British army in 1983, MacDonald instructed in Oman and the United States, then joined the teaching staff of the College of Piping, Glasgow. In 1996 he joined the Piping Centre as its senior instructor with a reputation as a popular but demanding and meticulous teacher. An admired composer, he published two collections of pipe music and was preparing a third at the time of his death. He was involved in compiling and editing the Scots Guards Collection - a very popular source of tunes.

In recent years, MacDonald was in growing demand as a piping judge at the highest levels of competition including Scotland's premier events: the Glenfiddich Piping Championships, the Northern Meeting and the Argyllshire Gathering. His abilities as a piper were already well respected; as a judge, he gave good, concise, constructive comment. He listened very closely to the piper on the competition boards, but would also have some sharp quip for his fellow judges. "You had to watch yourself," said a fellow judge. "You can't be seen laughing as a competitor is just starting up."

Whatever he did was total immersion. There were no half measures. As an instructor, he expected and got the highest of standards through his strength of character - "When he said this was what he wanted, there was no way you could do it any other way." He was, too, a repository of stories and piping wisdom. Wherever pipers meet, said a leading figure in Scottish piping, "sooner or later the conversations get around to Angus - the most talked about piper in the world. He'd done it all, he was involved in everything."

He met his terminal illness with strength, courage and indefatigable humour. On his last visit to the Army School of Bagpipe Music at Edinburgh Castle, he looked around the school and, in conversation with the Pipe Major, said with a twinkle: "We're all in the queue - I've always been greedy and I'm at the front." All the world loves a winner, he once wrote: "I remember winning a premier prize late on in my piping career and an old man shook my hand and said: `Congratulations, I won't keep you any longer because you'll have plenty of friends tonight.' "

Angus MacDonald, piper: born Glasgow 20 October 1938; MBE 1983; married (one daughter); died Edinburgh 25 June 1999.

News

literature

News
Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.

television

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss