The Francis George Scott Collection

A collection of material relating to the Scottish composer Francis George ('F.G.') Scott.

About Francis George Scott

Francis George (‘F.G.’) Scott (1880-1958) was born in Hawick, Roxburghshire. He shared his birthday with Robert Burns and this connection remained important to Scott, evidenced by his setting of some of Burns’s poems.

Scott studied English at Edinburgh University and then teacher-training at Moray House. At Langholm Academy in 1905, one of Scott’s pupils was Christopher Grieve, better known as Hugh MacDairmid. Nearly 20 years passed before the two were in contact again.

In 1914, Scott married Burges Gray, a mezzo-soprano with whom he had four children. From 1924 to 1946, he was music lecturer at Jordanhill College in Glasgow.

Scott was essentially a songwriter and miniaturist. He published his first song in 1899 and composed over 200 songs, half of which were published. He was a committed Nationalist and the sources of his art lay in Scottish speech rhythm, folk song, fiddle music and the music of the Highland bagpipe. He developed a Scottish art-song style from these disparate elements. He believed that the stropic song (where every verse of text is sung to the same tune) was inevitable in folksong-settings and ignored the drama so often implied in, for example, Burns’s lyrics.

Scott’s own settings often varied melody and accompaniment throughout the song. Hugh MacDairmid’s blending of Scottish dialects was also to provide him with ideal literary material, resulting in settings of The Watergaw, Crowdieknowe and The Eemis Stane. Their collaboration greatly developed Scott as a composer.

During the 1930s he set works of William Dunbar (1460?-1513), court poet to King James IV. Later he became interested in Gaelic poetry and set material by George Campbell Hay. His best-known work is the five volume set, Scottish Lyrics (1921-39). His unpublished songs include settings of Scots, English, French and German poetry. F.G. Scott manuscripts are also held at the Scottish Music Centre.

About the collection

The collection includes a number of manuscripts which were purchased by The Mitchell Library in 1964. These represent about 70 songs, 66 of which have been published. In addition, there are 55 miscellaneous sketch manuscripts.

Many of the songs are based on works by Scottish poets such as Robert Burns, Hugh MacDiarmid and William Dunbar. The manuscript collection also includes research notes by authors, press cuttings and correspondence from Maurice Lindsay for a book he was writing on Scott.

There is also a collection of more than 120 items of which the majority are unpublished. This consists of compositions in manuscript, mainly songs, choral works with and without accompaniment, piano and organ works and orchestral pieces.

Finding aid

Francis George Scott Collection listing (182KB)

Further reading

Lindsay, Maurice (1980). Francis George Scott and the Scottish Renaissance. Edinburgh: Paul Harris. (Edwin Morgan Library)

MacDiarmid, Hugh (1955). Francis George Scott: an essay on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday, 25th January 1955. Edinburgh: M. Macdonald. (Edwin Morgan Library)

Scottish Music Centre.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

SCRAN Pathfinder

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