Fortunate is the man who has been able to realise his childhood dreams. This beautiful book is the result of Andrew Winton’s long cherished dream – “to pass on some of the pleasures I got from Burns’ songs.”
As a child, he had the North Lanarkshire moors as a playground, listening to the calls and singing of the birds, lying in beds of wild thyme and heathers beside cool, clear burns – while at school, he was taught to recite the poems of Robert Burns, finding that “old Scottish airs came naturally to me.”
Andrew Winton describes his emotions while playing the simple melodies on his violin. “I had a great desire to pass on some of the pleasure I got from his songs. To do this, I would lay aside the cold hard print of the many books of his works and I would try to develop a hand of write to suit the subjects.”
There is an uncanny resemblance about the way Burns went about composing his songs (revealed in a letter from Burns included in the book) and the manner in which Andrew Winton was inspired to present his book. Burns describes how he would “look out for objects in Nature around me that are in unison and harmony with the cogitations of my fancy and workings of my bosom”.
One has only to observe the harmony between the words and the watercolours to appreciate how similar was the creative process working through Andrew Winton as he painted the illustrations and penned the words, veritably “the beauty of speech made visible by the art of the hand”.
In addition to the words and music, there are notes on the lasses to whom the songs were written, and the pages are decorated with delicate watercolours of the countryside flowers and grasses which inspired Burns.
Among the favourite songs included are Ae Fond Kiss, Afton Water, Green Grows the Rushes O, Johnny Anderson My Jo, The Red Red Rose, Mary Morrison and Auld Lang Syne.
Not only is the music included but the book is designed to open out flat so that it may be played as Andrew Winton has done so many times. His careful research and dedicated craftsmanship have produced a book no true lover of Burns can resist.
Andrew Winton was born in Lanarkshire in 1917. He attended the Edinburgh College of Art where he studied calligraphy and after the war received his Diploma in Typography and Textile Design. During the war he spent many years as a POW, had several escapes, and between times entertained fellow prisoners. He subsequently had a distinguished career as a teacher of Art in secondary schools. For over fifty years he has been in demand at Burns gatherings.
Keywords: Robert Burns, Scotland, Songs