Project ERIN, through the OMEKA exhibition ‘Music to Moore’s Irish Melodies in Dublin and London’ (http://omeka.qub.ac.uk/exhibits/), documents the manner in which the Irish Melodies were reissued with new piano accompaniments once the copyright for the original series had expired. In all these publications Moore’s original poetry is preserved, although there is on occasion some editing of the rhythms of his melodies — which we might note were already carefully adapted by Moore from the normally instrumentally-orientated versions that were available to him. Our OMEKA exhibition ‘Moore’s Irish Melodies in Europe’ traces the publication of collected editions of Moore’s lyrics across space (Europe) and time (between 1808-1880). Most editions of the lyrics alone are in English, and faithfully preserve Moore’s poetry. The translations in Latin (Nicholas Torre) and Irish (John MacHale Archbishop of Tuam) retain the poetic form and style of Moore’s original, while Louise Swanton Belloc’s translation of these lyrics into French are rendered as prose paraphrases of the original. Moore’s Irish Melodies also inspired purely instrumental arrangements of the tunes he had selected, where the tribute to Moore is indicated by preserving either his title or incipit- as was the case with George Schultz’s The favorite Irish melody Fly not yet, arranged as a rondo for the harp (London, c. 1815), or William Vincent Wallace’s pianoforte variations, Last Rose of Summer (London, 1846).
Given the strong association of the poet with the series, it may seem surprising that some of the responses to Moore’s Irish Melodies were in the way of songs preserving the tunes of the original but offering new lyrics. One such example was Music for the Million: consisting of the words and music with accompaniments for the piano-forte flute violin &c. of the most popular & standard songs … including … new versions of the celebrated Irish Melodies by William Leman Rede, Esq. Issued in London by Berger of Holywell Street circa 1850, this volume included no fewer than 24 of ‘Moore’s’ Irish Melodies, with new lyrics by Rede himself or his sister, Mary Leman Rede. These often seemed to draw close inspiration from Moore’s original: for example, Moore’s “Oh! Breathe not his name” (widely understood as an ode to the late Robert Emmett) inspired Rede’s “Oh! Come to the tomb”, which tells of a devoted friend in mourning. The Musical Bijou, an Album of Music, Poetry and Prose, was edited by F.H. Burney and issued annually by the London-based firm Goulding & D’Almaine between 1839 and 1845. Some volumes contain tributes to Moore’s Irish Melodies by offering fresh arrangements as solo songs or duets with entirely new lyrics — often written by one D. Ryan. Ryan (as did the siblings Rede), drew closely on the sentiments of Moore’s original lyrics – taking ‘The Meeting of the Waters’, Moore’s tribute to friendship and its power to forge fond memories of a place – and rendering it as a duet with the title,‘The Home of Contentment’:
By the side of a fountain embosom’d in trees
Where the wild rose entices the kiss of the bees,
There lies with its blue smoke ascending above
My dear home of contentment, of Friendship and Love
My dear Home of contentment, of Friendship and Love.
D. Ryan, in The Musical Bijou (1841), p. 36 (1st verse only)