Scottish Folksongs

for string quartet (2007)

Score and Parts

by Todd Tarantino


SKU: TT-CM012 Category: Tags: , , ,




12 minutes


I: Locrian Chamber Players
10 February 2012
Riverside Church
New York, New York

II, III: Momenta Quartet
14 October 2007
St. Paul's Chapel
New York, New York


string quartet


How Lang and Dreary is the Night
Of A' the Airts
Oh, My Love is like a Red, Red Rose

Program Notes

Ancestry is a funny thing. Though it’s not evident from my surname, part of me is a Burns. Sometime in the 1800s, a distant ancestor named Blair Alexander Burns married one Mary Tomson in Dublin. Their ancestors would eventually come to America, marry Germans who would marry mid-American English who would marry 100% Italian-American, and here I am.

Inspired by our shared love of the Scottish fiddler Bonnie Rideout, my settings of Scottish Folksongs began as a wedding gift to my wife. Composed in the early fall of 2007, they recast two of Burns’s love songs – ‘Major Graham’, selected by Burns for his ‘O my luve is like a red, red rose’; and ‘Miss Admiral Gordon’s Strathspey’, Burns’s ‘Of a’ the airts’ – for string quartet.

Shortly thereafter I began teaching music theory. On the advice of my then-teacher Stephen Siegel, himself of mixed Romanian-Scottish ancestry, I turned to Burns’s collection, using his melodies for sight-singing, dictation, and harmonization exercises. ‘How Lang and Dreary is the Night’ (Burns’s ‘A Galick Air’) grew out of these explorations. It was written during the cold, dark winter nights of 2009.

The settings are richly contrapuntal, at times lush, at times dreamy, but always honest.

My settings of Scottish songs is an ongoing project. They may be performed in any order, individually or collectively.
– TT, Nelsonville, February 2022