The ‘Ossian’ ballad, said to be by Ossian, the semi-legendary Gaelic poet and warrior ‘discovered’ and ‘translated’ by the Scottish poet James Macpherson (1736–1796), was published to great acclaim in 1762. When asked to produce the originals, however, Macpherson was unable to do so and it seems that he himself wrote most of the fabled epic of Ossian. (Unsurprisingly, he became an MP and was buried, at his own request and expense, in Westminster Abbey.) These early works by Gottschalk take their inspiration from Ossian-Macpherson, and the two Ballades
are prefaced with passages from the poem in French. The pseudo-Scottish element was another string in the young pianist-composer’s bow to set alongside his Creole-inspired works, opera fantasies and salon morceaux, and he soon added Le lai du dernier ménestrel
and a Danse ossianique
Op 12 (a re-working of his Polka de salon
, Op 1).
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2000