BURNS, Robert, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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BURNS, Robert (1759-1796). Scottish national poet.
Autograph Musical Manuscript of 'The German Lairdie', 16 bars on oblong slip, c. 1787-1796. With an accompanying identifying note stating that the piece was written by Burns and given to James Johnson.
When James Johnson, an Edinburgh engraver, conceived the idea of publishing the comprehensive collection of Scottish songs which was to become the six-volume Scots Musical Museum, he enlisted the help of Burns who enthusiastically collected the works of others and provided many new songs of his own. Virtually all the poetry Burns wrote between 1787-1792 was sent to his friend Johnson for inclusion in the Museum. His contribution totalled over two hundred songs.
 The first volume of the Museum appeared in May 1787 and by the end of that year, Burns had become the unacknowledged literary editor (he wrote the prefaces for volumes II-IV), with Stephen Clark as musical editor. Although the idea had been Johnson's, Burns was the driving force behind the project. The first four volumes appeared in his lifetime (volume II in March 1788, III in February 1790, and IV in August 1792). Just weeks before his death, Burns was writing words of encouragement to Johnson and asking for the proofs of the fifth volume. However, Burns did not live to see it completed; volume V was published in December 1796, followed by volume VI in 1803.

[No: 4314]

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