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On Saturday 17 June Dr Sarah McCleave and Dr Tríona O’Hanlon presented the plenary lecture at the 2017 SMI Conference, Queen’s University Belfast. The title of the lecture is Project ERIN and the Response of European Composers to Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh. The lecture provides a case study of Spontini’s Lalla Rookh, an overview of Project ERIN and its outputs. You may listen to the second part of the lecture, delivered by Dr Sarah McCleave, here.

 

On Saturday 17 June Dr Sarah McCleave and Dr Tríona O’Hanlon presented the plenary lecture at the 2017 SMI Conference, Queen’s University Belfast. The title of the lecture is Project ERIN and the Response of European Composers to Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh. The lecture provides a case study of Spontini’s Lalla Rookh, an overview of Project ERIN and its outputs. You may listen to the first part of the lecture, delivered by Dr Tríona O’Hanlon, here. The second part, delivered by Dr Sarah McCleave, will be uploaded in our next blog on 8 October.

 

 

The ERIN radio documentary “An oriental romance: Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh” will be broadcast on the Lyric Feature on Sunday 10 September at 6pm on RTÉ Lyric fm. The documentary outlines the story of Moore’s Lalla Rookh and focuses on the variety of musical works it inspired. The documentary, which was produced in collaboration with Dublin-based Rockfinch Ltd., has been in preparation since June 2016. Contributors to the programme include the following:

Spoken Contributors: Dr Daniel Roberts (QUB), Dr Sarah McCleave (QUB), Dr Tríona O’Hanlon (QUB), Siobhán Fitzpatrick (RIA Library), Gerry Long (National Library of Ireland), Aoife O’Sullivan (DIT), Martha O’Brien (DIT), Sinéad Campbell-Wallace (DIT), Helen Aiken (QUB), Anja Bunzel (NUIM)

Artistic Contributors: Dr Sarah McCleave (QUB), Dr Tríona O’Hanlon (QUB), Sinéad Campbell-Wallace (DIT)

Performers: Aoife O’ Sullivan (DIT), Martha O’Brien (DIT), Helen Aiken (QUB)

Technician & Technical Assistant: Dr David Bird (QUB), Oisín Hughes (QUB)

Producer & Narrator: Claire Cunningham (Rockfinch Ltd.)

Image courtesy of pixabay.com.

 

Lalla Rookh with Feramorz in the Vale of Cashmere

Lalla Rookh and Feramorz in the Vale of Cashmere

Image courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, Queen’s University Belfast

A collection of no fewer than forty-one sound files from three performance events, promoted by and supported by project ERIN, will be made available soon through our project website. The first was a Lalla Rookh bi-cententary concert performed (and also recorded) by year 3 students in the BMus of Queen’s University Belfast, which took place in the Harty Room on 11 May 2017. We re-told the story of Lalla Rookh through a selection of songs and pieces taken from larger works inspired by, or based on, Moore’s oriental romance. The selected recording is an arrangement of the ‘Slow March’ from Frederic Clay’s 1877 cantata Lalla Rookh, performed here by flautists Ciara Jackson and Poppy Wheeler, violinist Linzi Jones, and clarinettist Gerard Mullay. The recording engineer is Jason Jackson.

Further audio files from this concert feature the music of Félicien David, Robert Schumann, Thomas Attwood, Charles Villiers Stanford, and Sir John Stevenson, among others.

The second sound file is taken from the second concert to mark the bi-centenary of Lalla Rookh, at the Sonic Lab in SARC, Queen’s University Belfast, on 17 June 2017. Performers Helen Aiken (mezzo), Martha O’Brien (mezzo), and Aoife O’Sullivan (piano) performed music by Schumann, Stanford, John Francis Barnett and George Kiallmark, among others. Fiddle player Conor Caldwell provided a medley of his own arrangements and those of Tommy Potts to tunes associated with Thomas Moore. In the sample provided here, Helen Aiken and Aoife O’Sullivan (as recorded by David Bird) perform Danish composer George Gerson’s  “Tell me not of joys above”. The lyrics are derived from an episode near the end of  Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh: the princess and her beloved poet are estranged; he sings this touching song to her whilst hidden in a tree.

Over thirty additional tracks — many of music that is rarely heard — will be available on the project website soon. We will also offer some recordings of favorite Irish Melodies in distinct settings or editions.

ERIN completes its funded stage today, 31 August 2017. We are grateful to the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, co-funded by the European Union, for the opportunity to work on such interesting material, and to make it available to the public.

The website for project ERIN will be launched during autumn 2017. It will serve as an ‘open access’ gateway to the following resources, some of which are already available through sites hosted by Queen’s University Belfast:

- four collections published on the OMEKA platform

- four exhibits published on the OMEKA platform

- a collection of forty-one sound files, taken from two concerts to mark the bicentenary of Lalla Rookh as well as a selection of Irish Melodies

- a catalogue of over 800 published sources of Moore’s music, drawn from no fewer than eight European repositories

- the project blog, ‘Thomas Moore in Europe’

The blog will continue to appear at least once a month to serve these functions:

1. To advise our readers regarding the publication of outputs such as the radio documentary on Lalla Rookh
2. To make available certain outputs, such as our lecture for the SMI Plenary conference in June 2017.
3. To report on progress regarding on-going outputs such as the catalogue or a planned anthology of essays, “Thomas Moore and the Global Marketplace”
4. To highlight particular items in the collections or the catalogue

Image courtesy of Special Collections & Archives, Queen’s University Belfast

Irish Melodies [music and illustrations].London London, [1880].Frontispiece

We are pleased to launch four collections and four exhibitions on the OMEKA platform, as hosted by Special Collections & Archives, Queen’s University Belfast at the following link: http://omeka.qub.ac.uk

The collections, comprising a total of over 200 items largely drawn from the Moore Collection at Queen’s, are as follows:

Music to Moore’s Irish Melodies

Moore’s Irish Melodies: Texts and Illustrations
Moore’s National Airs in Europe
Lalla Rookh in 19th-century Europe

The exhibits are as follows:
Music to Moore’s Irish Melodies in Dublin and London
Moore’s Irish Melodies in Europe
The dissemination of Moore’s National Airs in Europe
The tales and travels of Lalla Rookh

 

Image courtesy of Special Collections & Archives, Queen’s University Belfast

Lalla Rookh

Lalla Rookh drawn by Kenny Meadows, engraved by J. Hollis

 

 

 

All of Thomas Moore’s works featured in project ERIN – the Irish Melodies, the National Airs, and Lalla Rookh – were conceived to feature contributions from illustrators and engravers at an early stage. With regards to the two song series, each number thereof would sport one or two plates designed by illustrators such as as Thomas Stothard RA (“Row gently here” from the National Airs; “Lesbia hath a beaming eye” from the Irish Melodies), or William Henry Brooke (“As vanquish’d Erin”, and “Oh, ye dead!,” both from the Irish Melodies). The title pages, too each had their own illustration. These designs were executed as engravings (“a printmaking technique that involves making incisions into a metal plate which retain the ink and form the printed image” –tate.org.uk) by such as Charles Heath (1785-1848) or Henry Melville (1792-1870). While the images featured in the Irish Melodies or National Airs – whether produced by James Power in London or William Power in Dublin – were ostensibly the same (i.e. drawn by the same illustrator), the fact that the brothers employed distinct engravers is evident when copies of their works are compared. One of the most famous illustrated volume associated with Thomas Moore is the 1846 edition of the Irish Melodies as illustrated by his fellow Irishman Daniel Maclise RA (1806-1870); Maclise’s work is distinct from earlier illustrated editions in presenting one or two illustrations (or at the very least a decorative border) to each of the Melodies. The popularity of this edition (which was reissued by Longmans as late as 1876) brought Moore’s work to a new generation towards the end of his life and beyond.

Lalla Rookh has a particularly strong association with illustrators. Queen Victoria’s drawing master Richard Westall RA (1765-1836) seems to have been commissioned by the Longman firm to design Illustrations of Lalla Rookh an oriental romance—since this volume came out in the same year as Moore’s ‘oriental romance’. Charles Heath (1785-1848), also associated with illustrations for the Irish Melodies, was the engraver. More famous perhaps was the edition of Lalla Rookh with sixty-nine illustrations designed by John Tenniel (1820-1914), issued several times by Longmans between 1861 and 1880. This  edition already had a rival issued by George Routledge in 1860 that featured the illustrations of numerous artists, including George Housman Thomas (1824-1868), Kenny Meadows (1790-1874), and Edward Henry Corbould (1815-1905). Routledge promoted an illustrated edition of Moore’s Lalla Rookh until at least 1891. Some of these artists, as well as the engraver Charles Heath, were previously involved in an illustrated version of Lalla Rookh brought out by Longmans in 1838.

Much of the illustrative activity associated with Moore’s work took place in the Anglo-Irish orbit, and involved some fairly high profile artists. Project ERIN is able to document a few continental works with engraved illustrations, including Lalla Rookh : ein morganländisches Gedicht, translated by Johann Ludwig Witthaus and published by Schumann of Zwickau in 1822. This work, presumably intended for those with a modest book budget, has but two illustrations, both engraved by one J. Thaeter. We only have the surnames for the two illustrators – Rensch designed a frontispiece of Lalla Rookh, while Baumann designed an image depicting Aliris holding a faint Lalla Rookh after his identity as her beloved Feramorz is revealed. Even more obscure are the identities of the designer and engraver of the frontispiece to volume one of The Works of Thomas Moore, as issued in Paris by Arthus Bertrand in 1820. Depicting the prophet Mokanna unveiing himself to Zelica, this is designed by “Ch” and engraved by “Dx” (see below).

Mokanna unveils himself to Zelica.Paris,Arthus Bertrand, 1820d

Although lithography — “a printing process that uses a flat stone or metal plate on which the image areas are worked using a greasy substance so that the ink will adhere to them” (tate.org.uk) – was discovered in 1798 (britannica.com), the first known example of this technique being used to illustrate Moore is the 1860 illustrated edition of Paradise and the Peri issued by the London-based firm Day & Son. lllustrator Owen Jones (1809-1874) and illuminator Henry Warren (1794-1879) offer a luxuriously colourful response to this particular tale of Moore’s, a sample of which is produced below.

Peri with dead lovers.Jones and Warren

Images courtesy of Special Collections, Queen’s University Belfast

We conclude this blog by announcing that two electronic collections that will be available through project ERIN’s dedicated website by the end of this month are here given a ‘soft launch’ through their home site in omeka.qub.ac.uk.
Collection number 17, ‘Moore’s Irish Melodies” Texts and Illustrations”, includes numerous still images that document the efforts of the artists mentioned above, as well as others active in London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow in the Victorian era. See also ‘Lalla Rookh in 19th-century Europe’ (collection 15) for 71 images associated with that work. (A third collection, related to the National Airs, is still under development.) All of these collections will be interpreted through OMEKA exhibitions that will become available through the project ERIN website by the end of August 2017.

Guest contributor Matthew Campbell

Editor’s note: in May 2017, as part of the lunch series in Music at Queen’s University Belfast, Matthew performed a song as Feramorz from the 1877 cantata Lalla Rookh (W.G. Wills, text, and Frederic Clay, music).*

Perhaps a 19th-century Irish poet’s interpretation of the Kashmir Valley may seem far-fetched to students today, particularly as research indicates that Moore had never actually travelled to India in his lifetime. However, his telling of the fictional story ‘Lalla Rookh’ depicts a love story so exotic and beautiful that it really isn’t overly surprising that so many composers chose to realise it through music.

In our snapshot interpretation, I am performing the role of Feramorz and have the pleasure of performing a song from Frederic Clay’s interpretation entitled “I’ll Sing Thee Songs of Araby”. This is a love song which allows me to explore Feramorz character not only as a heroic King in disguise, but also an innocent young man in love.

 

LR.L1.1880a.Feramorz, LR, Fadladeen.Tenniel

Feramorz sings to Lalla Rookh, as depicted by John Tenniel.

Image courtesy of Special Collections, Queen’s University Belfast.

In Moore’s poem, Feramorz is actually the young King of Bucharia, Aliris, in disguise. He undertakes this disguise in an attempt to woo Lalla Rookh (his intended bride through an arranged marriage) with his poetry and music. Fran Pritchett expands on Moore’s interpretation of the character of Feramorz by writing, “He was a youth about Lalla Rookh’s own age, and graceful as that idol of women, Crishna, such as he appears to their young imaginations, heroic, beautiful, breathing music from his very eyes”.[1] I agree with this depiction as this is somewhat how I myself imagined the character, I would however add that I feel that Aliris’s choice of disguise was more than a cunning plan to woo Lalla Rookh, but rather a genuine act of love suggesting that royalty and riches could not make him happy if he was without the one he truly loved, and his willingness to demote himself of these privileges in an attempt to capture her heart suggest to me that he was more interested in love than materialist wealth and status. When performing as Feramorz I combined these descriptions along with my interpretation of the song to depict a character by implementing simple yet effective methods of characterisation.

My first entrance singing Clay’s song allows me to portray a young man in love as he gazes upon the beauty of Lalla Rookh. By standing up straight with my chest inched forward and my chin raised to allow my head to point upwards towards Lalla Rookh, I can use this body language to suggest a man who is confident and assured, both characteristics of a heroic character. I also interpret this through my gait, which as I move closer to Lalla Rookh is controlled and calm suggesting that I am unafraid of approaching the one I adore. Characterising a young lover is slightly more challenging and in an attempt to achieve this I have opted for subtlety rather than a form of melodrama. Simple extended arm gestures towards Lalla Rookh accompanied by the occasional gaze upon her face should be effective in establishing a form of attraction between the characters.

I also believe that nothing more than subtlety is necessary given the beautiful floating melody of the song, which in itself easily suggests romance. When I sing this song I tend to move a little more rubato than other performances I have heard and this is a personal choice as I believe it allows me to place emphasis on the emotive elements of the song and give it a hint more tenderness and feeling which will also help depict the innocent plea of a young lover. Winton Dean makes an interesting remark in his paper on recitative performance in late baroque opera noting that when singing “not only should there be no regular pulse; there should be no singing in the sense that arias are sung. Recitative was defined as a form of musical speech and should be delivered parlando, not with the full voice”.[2] Whilst I do not feel there are any elements of the song in which it would be appropriate to sing parlando, I do think there is merit in suggesting that the idea is adaptable and therefore also applies to the concept of singing rubato. Young love should not be rigid and restricted and for that reason I would see no benefit in observing every bar line, beat and rest with precise execution. Instead, I would respect the musical integrity of the piece but also give it an element of realism by feeling the mood of the song and adapting my performance appropriately whether that be through change in tempo or dynamics mostly or simply the overall pace of the piece.

When I rehearse Feramorz’s song a natural beauty occurs as I never seem to sing it exactly the same way twice.  For this to happen so freely and unplanned is an example within itself of how the song and the character can become one by simply allowing oneself to feel the song.


[1] Pritchett, F (2013) Lalla Rookh (1817), Available at: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00generallinks/lallarookh/index.html#index

(Accessed: 23rd April 2017).

 

[2] Winton, D (1977) ‘The Performance of Recitative in Late Baroque Opera’, Music & Letters, 58(4), pp. 389 – 402.

 

For Moore, socializing usually had an element of networking to it. His journal records various social encounters with Lord Burghersh (John Fane, 11th Earlof Westmorland), including an instance of dining with the latter in Florence on 23 October 1819. Burghersh was a keen composer, and his settings of many of Moore’s lyrics were published by Moore’s regular music publisher James Power. This working relationship surely strengthened Moore’s ties to an elite class whose support and regard were of considerable practical importance to him. Indeed, at this particular dinner Moore learned that Burghersh’s setting of the song ‘Bendemeer’s Stream’ from Lallla Rookh had inspired a translation of the song into Italian. Moore’s profile in Italy was likely enhanced by his association with Burghersh, as the latter held various diplomatic posts there between 1814 and 1831 and so would have been a man with contacts and influence.

 

 Bendemeer's Stream Burghersh Title page

Image courtesy of Special Collections, McClay Library

Moore sometimes picked up gratifying news about how his works were faring while dining with his well-connected acquaintances. During his dinner at the Palais Royal (27 Feb. 1821) he learned a “rather flattering piece of news”— a month previous, the Court of Berlin had “represented in character” the story of Lalla Rookh, with Britain’s Duke of Cumberland assuming a small role as the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (the music, by Gasparo Spontini, is not mentioned in Moore’s account). The event was reported by Chateaubriand “as the most splendid & tasteful thing he had ever seen”.  A “Lady of Honour” at the Paris dinner even offered to translate the German programme for Moore’s benefit. Much later, in June 1847, Moore mentioned another production,  “founded upon ‘Lalla Rookh,’ [which] was brought out this year at the Queen’s Theatre; and the example was followed promptly by many of the minor theatres … “. Moore goes on to report performances of various settings of his songs from Lalla Rookh that had recently taken place at the Welsh singer-pianist John Parry’s May 1847 concert in the prestigious venue of London’s Hanover Square.

Moore’s journal and correspondence also record countless occasions where he networked by performing — particularly his Irish Melodies — at the London clubs (for which publisher James Power paid his membership fees) and private parties of the influential bon ton. This kind of socialising was a very profitable form of advertisement for Moore’s work, as he often acknowledged in his letters to Power.  Given his sociable nature, we can assume he did not find ‘singing for his supper’ a difficult chore.

 

By Guest Contributor Josh Liu

The Fire Worshippers (published 1892), a dramatic cantata for solo voices chorus and orchestra, is written ambitiously by the hand of then student-composer Granville Bantock. As a piece that is derived from Thomas Moore’s oriental romance Lalla Rookh (1817), Bantock modernises the musical response to the story and establishes a great force into the music.

Bantock is a prolific composer who constantly changes his musical language in an unrecognisable manner. However, the Wagnerian compositional style remains as the main influence in Bantock which can be identified in  The Fire Worshippers. Compared with songs based on Lalla Rookh that came out within a few years of Moore’s 1817 poem (for example, “‘Twas his own voice” by Sir John Stevenson), Bantock’s work shares little or no similarities. The piece is more elaborate and is written in a concert style. It is not difficult to observe the gestures from all voices; Bantock clearly drew on the strength of each character in the vocal parts. Like most late romantic pieces, The Fire Worshippers is richly orchestrated and involves notably wide-ranging melodic lines.

Liu figure 1

It is interesting to see how the musical response to Lalla Rookh develops. Composers are working with  the same story-line, but it encourages different interpretations  as the nineteenth century progresses. What used to be a soothing type of storytelling now becomes dramatic. Having a huge orchestra boosts every dramatic moment more effectively. To name an example, in Scene Five, when Hinda (an Arab princess in war-torn Persia, depicted by a soprano) cries ‘No rest for me, while danger’s nigh,’ the music suddenly becomes very loud with a more urgent tempo marking ‘Molto Andante’ (from the preceding ‘Largo’). The percussion offers a forceful sound on top of the thick texture achieved by strings, woodwinds and brass.

Liu figure 2

The demand in this piece is very high — as a multi-movement cantata for chorus, vocal soloists and orchestra, it is quite lengthy and substantial as compared  with the short songs written for piano and voice that Moore’s poem inspired in the 1810s and ’20s. The first review of the Overture to The Fire Worshippers as performed at the Royal Academy of Music, London, simply praised Bantock’s modern interpretation of the story for being “bold, and the orchestration picturesque” The Fire Worshippers by Bantock displays vivid images through his compositional technique and orchestration. He offers a good representation of Moore’s story, entering into its ambience and variety, perhaps in a more convincing manner than Moore’s immediate contemporaries managed to do.

 

References

Bantock, Granville, The Fire Worshippers, Novello’s original octavo edition, London: Novello & Company Limited, 1892 (Score accessed 10th April 2017).

“Royal Academy of Music.” The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular 32.575 (1 January 1891): 23.

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