The Land of the Mountain and the Flood

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The Land of the Mountain and the Flood is a concert overture for orchestra, composed by Hamish MacCunn in 1887. Often cited as the archetypal Scottish overture, it is frequently likened to the works of Sir Walter Scott in its unashamedly lyrical, romantic view of the Scottish landscape. The title is in fact taken from Scott's The Lay of the Last Minstrel, canto vi, stanza 2:

O Caledonia! stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child!
Land of the heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e'er untie the filial band
That knits me to thy rugged strand!

After its first performance at Crystal Palace, George Bernard Shaw said witheringly of it:

Mr MacCunn’s Land of the Mountain and the Flood, a charming Scotch overture that carries you over the hills and far away, was much applauded. I object, by the bye, to the “working out” section, which Mr MacCunn would never have written if his tutors had not put it into his head. I know a lady who keeps a typewriting establishment. Under my advice she is completing arrangements for supplying middle sections and recapitulations for overtures and symphonies at twopence a bar, on being supplied with the first section and coda.[1]

In 1968 the overture came to renewed attention when EMI included it on an LP 'Music of the Four Countries' (ASD 2400), played by the Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Alexander Gibson. From there it gained wider familiarity by being used from 1973 to 1976 as the theme for the BBC television series Sutherland's Law.[2]


The Land of the Mountain and the Flood and excerpts from MacCunn's opera Jeanie Deans were recorded in Govan Town Hall in June 1995 by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins and released by Hyperion Records the same year.[3]


  1. ^ Shaw, George Bernard (1981). Shaw's Music. Volume One (1876-1890). London: Bodley Head. p. 950.
  2. ^ Ruggeri, Roger (2011). "Program Notes: The Land of the Mountain and the Flood". 2011 Grand Teton Music Festival. pp. 67–68.
  3. ^ Steane, J. B. (February 1996). "Review: Jeanie Deans, The Land of the Mountain and the Flood (Hyperion CDA66815])". Gramophone: 102. Retrieved 24 August 2018.