Nicol - Brown Amateur Invitational


Pipe Major William Ross (1879-1965) learned his early piping from his father, mother, and his uncle, Aeneas Ross, who guided his early steps in Piobaireachd. By his own great musical ability, Pipe Major Ross rose to the top of his profession. Music flowed from William Ross's pipe and fingers with no apparent effort: "the mighty frame seemed hardly to need to blow". It was the simplicity of the true expert "like the golf swing of a master" making it look easy until we try to do it ourselves. Unlike so many pipers, success never spoiled him, and if ever one needed a tonic, an hour in the company of the illustrious Pipe Major would assure a cure for the ailment. He was peerless in conversation, a Prince of Storytellers. He loved human beings and was loved by them in return. In his life and work, Willie Ross was a delightful example of the perfect gentleman. By his courtesy, his modesty and his professional ability he left an indelible, honoured name that will live down through the ages and cheer the hearts of those who listen to the recordings of his lovely music.

He joined the Scots Guards in 1896 and from that date until his retirement in 1957 he served piping and pipers. In 1920 he was appointed Principal of the new Army School of Piping at Edinburgh Castle. After his retirement from the Army, it was in 1921 that he became the Piobaireachd Society's tutor, and through his appointment, pipers both military and civilian were able to benefit from his tuition. His pupils are scattered throughout the world and always provided the cream of the piping world with many champions amongst them. The world of pipers has not only been made up of players, teachers, and composers; there have been those who worked to make the music of the pipe available to the piper, and those who worked to ensure that the great heritage was passed on. William Ross's collection of pipe music remains the mainstay and guide of many pipers.

Excerpted from Piping Times, June 1966; A Highlander Looks Back by Angus MacPherson; Scots Guards Book 1; and Piper's Handbook by J. A. MacLellan.