The ERIN catalogue now records over 1000 musical scores that are related to Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh, his National Airs, or his Irish Melodies. The 1000th object to be entered in the catalogue is the ‘Lalla Rookh Nocturne’ for solo piano by one Antoine Schafer. This appears in an anthology of sheet music for piano held at the British Library. This type of work, inspired by Moore’s creative output but having no direct connection in its content to him, offers the most distant kind of relationship captured by the ERIN catalogue. Other recent additions include several of Cesare Pugni’s arrangements for solo piano of pieces from his own ballet Lalla Rookh — choreographed by Jules Perrot, this was performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, in 1846 (see the blog and OMEKA collection dedicated to Lalla Rookh for further). William Lovell Phillips’s piano arrangements of Lalla Rookh, entitled Pearls of the East, are also a recent addition to the catalogue. Their dedicatee, Lady Sydney Morgan (d. 1846), was a prominent author whose well-regarded “Irish national tales” would have cultivated a readership for Moore’s work. Concluding the recent additions of pianoforte music to catalogue ERIN are two arrangements of vocal works by the Bohemian-born composer Wilhelm Kuhe (1823-1912). The first, ‘O ma maîtresse’, is derived from Félicien David’s opéra comique, Lalla Roukh (Paris, 1862); the second, a ‘Fantasia on airs from Frederic Clay’s Lalla-Rookh’ was drawn from Clay’s cantata as performed at the Brighton Festival in 1871. This was the first of several such annual musical events organised by Kuhe himself.
There’s a bower of roses by Bendemeer’s stream,
And the nightingale sings round it all day long;
In the time of my childhood ’twas like a sweet dream,
To sit in the roses and hear the bird’s song.
That bower and its music I never forget,
But oft when alone in the bloom of the year,
I think–is the nightingale singing there yet?
Are the roses still bright by the calm Bendemeer?
No, the roses soon wither’d that hung o’er the wave,
But some blossoms were gather’d while freshly they shone,
And a dew was distill’d from their flowers, that gave
All the fragrance of summer, when summer was gone.
Thus memory draws from delight, ere it dies,
An essence that breathes of it many a year;
Thus bright to my soul, as ’twas then to my eyes,
Is that bower on the banks of the calm Bendemeer.
Zelica sings to Azim, drawn by John Tenniel
‘Bendemeer’s Stream’, from ‘The Veiled Prophet’ in Lalla Rookh (1817), is a nostalgic lyric sung by the concubine Zelica to fulfil the prophet’s demands that she seduce her former lover Azim. This individual lyric was set by more composers than any other from Lalla Rookh, with James Power of London publishing settings by Lord Burghersh, William Hawes, and Lady Flint shortly after Moore’s poem came out. A later setting, by Edward Bunnett, was published in 1865. American settings (as ‘Bower of roses’) include J. Wilson (New York, 1817), as well as R.W. Wyatt and S. Wetherbee (Boston, 1820). The song also appears in Charles Villiers Stanford’s opera, The Veiled Prophet (Hannover, 1881; London, 1893 as Il profeta valeto). Project ERIN has recorded a special arrangement of the Stanford (with piano and obbligato clarinet), which will be made available on the project website early in 2019.
Image courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, Queen’s University Belfast
Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh inspired dozens of songs by composers in Europe and America, dating from 1817 into the later Victorian period. James Power (d. 1836), who held the copyright over Thomas Moore’s music, seems to have encouraged or accepted material suitable for the domestic music market from a number of professional and amateur musicians, the most intriguing of who is one Lady Flint. Her Five Songs and a Duet, issued by Power on or around 1818, sets six song lyrics from within Moore’s ‘Oriental Romance’, including:
- ‘Bendemeer’s Stream’ (Zelica’s song to her beloved Azim in ‘The Veiled Prophet’);
- a duet for soprano and tenor, ‘Oh fair as the Sea-flower’ (“Farewell to thee, Araby’s daughter”), which is the Peri’s farewell to the drowned Arabian princess Hinda of ‘The Fire-Worshippers’;
- ‘Namouna’s song’ (“I know where the winged visions dwell”), sung by the benevolent sorceress in ‘The Light of the Harem’ as she casts a spell to bring sleep to the love-lorn Nourmahal;
- (“From Cindara’s warbling fount I come”- rendered by one of Namouna’s charmed spirits to the sleeping Nourmahal – promises the odalisque that her lover will return to dote at her feet;
- “There’s a bliss beyond all that the Minstrel has told” and “Fly to the Desert, fly to me” are subsequently sung by a hidden Nourmahal to her estranged lover Selim, who is so utterly enchanted that the two are thoroughly reconciled.
COPAC records but one other published composition by Lady Flint: ‘C’est mon ami : rendez-le moi’, a ‘Romance’ that begins:”Ah! s’il est dans notre village” and was written by Jean Pierre Claris de Florian (1755-94). Indeed, as a figure she would remain utterly shadowy to us if it were not for the raconteur Captain Rees Howell Gronow (1794-1865), an officer in the Welsh Grenadiers and man about town whose Reminiscences and and Recollections [about] the camp, clubs, court and society, 1810-1860 tells us
Among those of the fashionable world in London who patronised music … no one was more conspicuous than Lady Flint; whose charming concerts, given generally on Sunday at her house in Birdcage Walk, delighted all who had musical tastes and enjoyed the honour of an invitation. (London: John Nimmo, 1900, vol. 2, p. 267)
Gronow continues with an anecdote about the disruptive effect of noisy tea-drinkers on the musicians at one such event, establishing that the repertory performed included violin concerto by Beethoven. Lady Flint counted among those who would perform at her concerts some of the leading London musicians of the day- including the acclaimed pianist-composers Jan Ladislav Dussek and Johann Baptiste Cramer, the “celebrated” violinist Giovanni Battista Viotti, and the double-bassist Domenico Dragonetti. From this one small anecdote we catch a glimpse of a woman of taste and discernment whose exposure to the best music and musicians of her day surely inspired her own imaginative responses to Moore’s lyrics.
Project ERIN is pleased to make available a recording from Lady Flint’s Five Songs, including a performance by BMUS students (graduating class of 2017) of the duet, “Farewell to thee Araby’s Daughter”
The performers are: Courtney Burns, soprano; Matthew Campbell, tenor; Poppy Wheeler, flute; Linzi Jones, violin; Jenny Garrett, piano.
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)
Guest contributor Megan Clay
The piano was invented by Italian Bartolomeo Cristofori in 1709. It wasn’t until the 1740s that it became widely used in Germany, with notable use in Britain dating from the 1760s – about a decade before Moore’s birth. England quickly became a leading centre of piano manufacture with John Broadwood and pianist-composer Muzio Clementi being the main producers (Temperley, page 400). Yet the piano was considered a new experimental instrument and could only be afforded by the upper classes. This created a clear distinction in the music played by professional and that of amateur musicians. The concert scene was thriving, and the piano was used primarily as part of an orchestra or in an ensemble of wind or string instruments, but rarely as a solo instrument. If the popularity of the piano was to increase, there needed to be a domestic market to introduce solo piano into the home.
Even in 1779, the year Moore was born, pianos were still exclusively for elite, professional musicians, and in Western Europe the harpsichord was still at that time more popular. The divide between professional and amateur musicianship gradually broke down, and more rapidly with the sale of amateur pianos and sonatas written for them.
Domestic music provided a need for printing and publishing scores, therefore making printed music cheaper, more plentiful and more accessible. The sale of piano music grew in the years following 1790, and as the quantity of music being produced grew, the quality grew poorer (Loesser, page 251). Few people were skilled enough to play high quality piano music, and simpler solo repertoire was commissioned to encourage piano playing amongst non-professionals. Composers began to recognise this need for more accessible music, distinguishing “grand sonatas” written for serious musicians from “sonatas” written for amateurs (Temperley, page 403). The latter preferred sonatas featuring popular tunes (Temperley, page 402). Composers turned to writing “in favour of the unskilled and uncultured” simply for the commercial value of the works (Loesser, page 251), as there was a high demand – especially in London. Austrian pianist and composer Josef Wölfl, whilst working in London, wrote to the publisher of Härtel magazine in Leipzig:
“Since I have been here, my works have had astonishing sales; but along with all this I must write in a very easy and sometimes a very vulgar style. So much for your information, in case it should occur to one of your critics to make fun of me on account of any of the things that have appeared here. You won’t believe how backward music still is here, and how one has to hold oneself back in order to bring forth such shallow compositions, which do terrific business here.” (Loesser, page 251)
The piano manufacturing business also benefitted from the growing trend of amateur piano playing, as pianos became readily sought after by the public (no longer merely the upper class) for domestic use.
A Clementi square piano, 1829.
“http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Piano_3205.jpg” Photo by P.G.Champion, available under a “http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/uk/deed.en_GB” Creative Commons license.
Manufacturers promoted their pianos to amateur musicians and prospective players. In 1810, virtuoso pianist and composer Muzio Clementi (after a successful career as a touring performer), entered the piano manufacturing industry–travelling Europe selling his pianos to amateur musicians. Clementi had fellow pianist Jan Ladislav Dussek, one of the first concert pianists in London (Temperley, page 403), perform his sonatas written for amateurs to mirror the repertory performed in the home and encourage the concept of virtuoso playing there. This was a considerable selling point, as in turn both his compositions and pianos promoted each other (Parakilas, page 26). To achieve this, Clementi created and published an introductory piano book entitled Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Pianoforte (1801) (Parakilas, page 68). His aim was to generate a flourishing piano market so that more people, particularly in the domestic market, would want to learn to play the piano. He also knew that it would be easier to play the piano if one was already competent in harpsichord playing, and encouraged many harpsichord players to convert to playing the piano. Therefore, the previous popularity of the harpsichord can be said to have enabled the success of the piano in the domestic sector.
Ehrlich, Cyril (1990). The Piano: A History. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Loesser, Arthur (1954). Men, Women and Pianos – A Social History. Simon & Schuster, New York.
Parakilas, James (2002). Piano Roles: A New History of the Piano. Yale University Press, New Haven.
Rowland, David.(1998). The Cambridge Companion to the Piano. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Temperley, N. (1981). The Romantic Age 1800-1914. 1st ed. Oxford: Blackwell.