Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gunn, John

GUNN, JOHN (fl. 1790), writer on music and professor, was born in Edinburgh about 1765, taught violoncello and flute in Cambridge, and was from 1789 in London for several years, making studies in languages and history in his leisure moments. He wrote at Cambridge his 'Treatise on the Origin of Stringed Instruments,' and published it with his 'Theory and Practice of Fingering the Violoncello, with Examples,' about 1789. (Forty favourite Scotch Airs adapted for Violin, Violoncello, or Flute,' followed as a supplement to that work. In 1790 Gunn translated from the Italian A. D. R. Borghese's 'New and General System of Music' (originally published in French, 1788, Paris). 'An Essay on Harmony … adapted to the Violoncello,' was brought out at Edinburgh, 1801. About this time Gunn married Ann Young, a pianist, and authoress of 'Elements of Music,' 'An Introduction to Music,' and some ingenious musical games. In 1805 Gunn read before the Highland Society a paper on the harp, which was printed by their desire in 1807 as 'An Historical Enquiry respecting the performances of the Harp in the Highlands of Scotland, from the earliest times till it was discontinued about 1734,' &c., 4to, Edinburgh. This is a valuable contribution to the history of music, and it is unfortunate that the author did not carry out his intention of writing an inquiry into the antiquity of the harp. Other works by Gunn were 'The Art of Playing the Flute,' and 'The School for the German Flute.'

[Works by Gunn and Ann Gunn; Grove's Dict. i. 641: Brown's Dict. p. 294; Baptie's Handbook, p. 89.]

L. M. M.