This tune gets played in Cape Breton a fair bit and is a favourite of Troy MacGillivray. It’s actually a hornpipe but only gets played as a reel, as it usually goes in Cape Breton. Usually played fast which makes all the third position stuff rather difficult at first. A very fun tune though.
This is what Don Meade said about this tune, and its composer, a few years ago:
"Really a hornpipe. Louis Ostinelli was an Italian violinist who settled in Boston in 1818. "He was keenly aware of the reputation the violin had as a vernacular instrument in New England. According to several anecdotes, he was furious when his violin was referred to as a fiddle or when he was requested to play dance music. Once when asked by a lady if he was to play for a dance following a concert, he deliberately cut his violin strings and said ‘Veree story, veree story, madam, you see I can no play.’" (Michael Broyles, Music of the Highest Class: Elitism and Populism in Antebellum Boston). Ostinelli may have gotten his revenge on dance fiddlers with this challenging tune!"
Ostinelli’s Reel can be found in the seminal Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883 Boston), and it also turns up in Luke O’Malley’s 1976 collection (he learned it from his great mentor John McGrath), and it has been recorded by the Irish American button boxer Timmy Cronin under the title "Austin’s Hornpipe" on his 1950s Avoca recording ‘Irish Accordion’.
It should also be remarked that the tune was recorded by Luke O’Malley with a nicely revised second part. He did not make it easier.
His teacher, John McGrath, seemed to have an ace up his sleeve. W.P. Quinn stopped into a venue where John was playing. He asked to sit in & play a few tunes. His box was pitched in F — yes, F. John never batted an eye but switched into a position (?) and played along without a problem. He said if you can play a tune without any open strings you should be able to do what he did. I have never seen or heard anyone else ever do this.
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