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James Oswald was a Scottish composer and publisher. Oswald was born in Crail, Scotland in 1710, being baptised on March 21, and died in Knebworth, Hertfordshire on January 2, 1769.



He worked as a dancing master in Dunfermline until 1736 but, realising that it was poorly paid moved to Edinburgh. Oswald set up as a publisher. He published a collection of minuets in 1736 and a Curious Collection of Scots Tunes in 1740. He also composed fiddle variations on Scottish folk tunes. Much of his output was under the pen name 'David Rizzio.' It is believed that the classic reel Flowers of Edinburgh is his composition although he never claimed it.

Flowers of Edinburgh on Baroque Violin


In 1741, Oswald moved to London. He became a composer for the publisher John Simpson until the latter's death in 1747. Oswald then established his own publishing firm producing mostly popular music and variations on popular tunes. The Caledonian Pocket Companion, a collection of Scottish folk tunes, counts 15 volumes and went through many editions.

His music shows a comfortable familiarity with a wide range of styles. The Italian cantata gets ridiculed in his Dustcart cantata, he wrote a fair number of songs for the London theatres, including the catalogue of insults Ballance a Straw, the French ballet makes an appearance in the Allegro of The Almond, which could easily be mistaken for a tambourin by Rameau, and he wrote comfortably in the very English style of the trio sonatas of Boyce, in his 12 Serenatas. Since Oswald used various pen names, not all of his works have been identified. The Airs for the Four Seasons is a collection of four suites of twelve trio sonatas, each titled with the name of a flower and is possibly his most famous work.

Twelve Divertimentis for Guittar (1 hour)

The Hawthorn Sonata

He was a member of "The Temple of Apollo", a secret musical society of composers in London along with Thomas Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie, John Reid, Charles Burney and others. He was appointed Chamber Composer to George III in 1761.
 
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I had to google Alan Cumming - but he is Scottish-American, so perhaps the resemblance isn't surprising.
Here is another version of one of Oswald's sonatas.
He is a real find for me, combining my love of Scottish fiddle music and my love for baroque violin.

 
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