We are not sure if another Grand Master Masons have composed music and which is available on CD but we have our doubts.
Thomas Alexander Erskine was Grand Master Mason 1763 - 1765. He was known as Fiddler Tam because he was an enthusiastic violinist. Although he was an amateur his music is recognised as being extremely important of its type and period. He studied under Johann Stamitz in Mannheim about 1753. He was a member and perfomer of the Edinburgh Musical society perfoming his own work on a regular basis. Unforntunately, he was not concerned with posterity and much of his music was written impromptu and disposed of after preforming the composition. Fortunately for us a little of his work survives especially some of his chamber music discovered in 1971 in what are known as the Kilavrock part books (which are in private hands).
We are even more fortunate in that Concerto Caledonia have recorded his work on CD. The sound of his music might sound a wee bitty strange to ouir modern ear but for those who are into classical music will be sure to find this of interested and appreciation will grow with repeated listening.
The tracks on the CD are:
- Overture in C op. 1 No. 2
- Death Is Now My Only Treasure
- Quartet In C Minor (Kilravock No. 8)
- The Lover's Message
- Overture in B Flat (The Maid Of The Mill)
- Quartet in A (Kilravock No. 9)
- Trio Sonata No. 5 in E
- Lord Kelly's Reel
- Trio Sonata No. 6 in G.
Of particular interest to Freemasons will the second track: Death Is Now My Only Treasure. This is Erskine's personal interpretation of the third or Masoter Mason's degree. It is very rare for an individual to express opinions was to what Freemasonry meant to them personally (the late Brother Robert Burns being an isolated exception). It is even rarer for a Freemason to provide a musical interpretation of Masonic ritual and what it meant to him. For that reason, at least, this music is extremely important for our understanding of 18th centry Scottish Freemasonry.