Sir Jimmy Shand’s songs to go under the hammer

Sir Jimmy Shand, right, was a global celebrity. Picture: TSPL
Sir Jimmy Shand, right, was a global celebrity. Picture: TSPL
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A COLLECTION of music which inspired the late Scottish musician Sir Jimmy Shand is to be sold by his family at auction.

Accordion legend Sir Jimmy, who died in 2000 aged 92, accumulated the antique books, including hundreds of traditional “auld Scots sangs”, over more than 60 years.

He acquired them in book shops between performances and pored over them to find music he could adapt for the accordion and incorporate into his own act. His son, also Jimmy, 76, an accomplished accordionist who played alongside his father many times, said yesterday that he hoped the collection would be “rediscovered” by another music-lover.

Part of his vast library, some 23 historic volumes containing more than 400 tunes dating back to the 18th century, will go under the hammer at Bonhams’ Scottish Sale in Edinburgh next month.

Mr Shand revealed: “My father collected these books over many years. Throughout his career he would hear about a book and go off in the car to find it, or if he was playing somewhere and had an afternoon off he would walk round the shops looking for one.

“He enjoyed collecting them. Some of the melodies he would adapt for the accordion and his own use. He would sit down in his chair and read the music in his head and if he liked something he would play it.”

The books include a 1785 collection of Strathspey reels by fiddler Niel Gow, songs by Robert Burns and compositions by the great pipe major Willie Ross.

The collection includes, some handwritten scores, with reels, strathspeys, marches, laments, pibrochs and even grand sonatas for the harpsichord.

Henry Baggott, Bonhams’ book specialist, said the books would be sought after not only by lovers of traditional Scottish songs, but by admirers of Sir Jimmy.

He said: “I was contacted by Jimmy Shand jnr to have a look at these 23 individual volumes, and it was extraordinary -- these were the traditional Scottish songs from which Sir Jimmy took inspiration.

“It is an important collection. Now somebody else can enjoy them.”

Sir Jimmy, of Auchtermuchty, began working in a mine aged 14, but went on to perform around the world, including Carnegie Hall in New York.

He was first broadcast on the BBC on New Year’s day 1945, and became a household name whose fans included the Queen Mother and the Queen.

In the mid-1950s he released a single every month. His most famous tune, The Bluebell Polka, reached No 20 in the charts in 1955.