Category Archives: Songs

Thomas Moore’s most popular songs: Bendemeer’s stream

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

Three arrangements of Moore’s Last Rose of Summer

“The Irish Melodies are perhaps the purest national tribute ever bequeathed by a poet to his country” (Novello). While Moore’s achievements were recognised in the years following his death,  the efforts of the two composers who provided the original “symphonies and accompaniments” were either derided as too complex (John Stevenson), or ignored (Henry Bishop). And so in 1859, as the copyright to Moore’s Irish Melodies expired, the prominent publishing firm Novello released Moore’s Irish Melodies with new Symphonies and Accompaniments for the Pianoforte by M. W. Balfe. At that time, the well established theatre composer Michael William Balfe was producing works for the Pyne-Harrison Opera Company of London’s Lyceum theatre. The Irish-born Balfe was a logical choice to arrange these melodies — not least given his success as an opera singer before he took up composition and theatre management.  In an unsigned preface to Balfe’s edition, the publisher claimed to be responding to a change in public taste “for the simple and natural” by issuing fresh arrangements of  Irish Melodies from numbers one through seven. We can appreciate this simplicity in Balfe’s approach to Moore’s ‘Last Rose of Summer’ (Irish Melodies, fifth number), which he sets with  single staccato quavers for the left hand punctuating a gentle triplet figure for the right hand of the piano part.

[Audio example to be inserted]

Mezzo soprano Laoise Carney with pianist Brian Connor.

At the same time as Novello was releasing a new version of Moore’s Irish Melodies, so too did the London-based publishers Cramer, Beale and Chappell. Sustaining an earlier interest in the original Irish Melodies (Cramer, Addison and Beale obtained the rights to James Power’s plates for Moore’s Irish Melodies circa 1840), this firm  commissioned the London-based composer George Alexander Macfarren (1813-1887) to arrange Moore’s Irish melodies  with new symphonies & accompaniments – also restricting the selection to songs from the first seven numbers. Macfarren’s arrangements were further promoted by Cramer through a wide selection of individual songs published into the 1870s; the London-based firm J. Macdowell seems to have taken over this enterprise around 1880. Macfarren’s arrangement of the ‘Last Rose of Summer’ favours a relentless semiquaver figure in the left hand of the piano part, against a purely melodic right hand. His harmonic learning is hinted at in the occasional introduction of a passing modulation.

Mezzo soprano Laoise Carney with pianist Brian Connor.
 

Granville Ransome Bantock (1868-1946) was another figure who was attracted to Moore’s Irish Melodies. An early recipient of the Macfarren scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, Bantock demonstrated an interest in Moore while a student there in the early 1890s with his ambitious choral-orchestral setting of The Fireworshippers (see this blog for 30 June 2017). Later in his career, he would arrange some of Moore’s Melodies for voice and piano, including the ‘Song of Fionnuala’ as a song in four parts (1910). Of the three settings considered here, Bantock’s  ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ is  most successful in evoking the sound of the Irish harp through the use of arpeggiated (rather than rhythmically articulated) chords across both hands in the piano accompaniment.

[Audio example to be inserted]

Mezzo soprano Laoise Carney with pianist Brian Connor.

Reference

Novello. Preface, Moore’s Irish Melodies with new Symphonies and Accompaniments for the Pianoforte by M. W. Balfe. London, [1859].

Lady Flint and Lalla Rookh

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”

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The performers are: Courtney Burns, soprano; Matthew Campbell, tenor; Poppy Wheeler, flute; Linzi Jones, violin; Jenny Garrett, piano.

 

Tune in to the Lyric Feature

 

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.

 

A taster of ERIN’s collection of sound files

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.

The Meeting of the Waters: BL and other sources

In relation to project ERIN, the British Library possesses one of the largest, and most significant, collections of sources for Moore’s work (http://explore.bl.uk/). The range of sources includes complete runs of the Irish Melodies Numbers 1-10; complete runs of the National Airs Numbers 1-6 and a large selection of songs, operas and ballets based on Lalla Rookh. Contained in the BL’s collection are five different editions of The Meeting of the Waters.  These include two publications edited by Professor Clare (one dates from 1859 and the other was published in 1868 by Holdernesse), an edition published by Williams in 1859/60, an arrangement for two voices by Frank Romer published by Leader & Cocks in 1860 and an 1872 edition published by George Bell. All of the aforementioned editions were published in London.

 

 

The collection at the BL also includes earlier editions of the song published by James Power (London), William Power (Dublin) and Addison & Hodson (London); the dates of publication for these editions range from 1820 to 1845. James Power editions of the song are present in the collections at the National Library, Dublin and Special Collections at McClay Library QUB. Also at the National Library is a William Power edition of the song and an arrangement for two voices by W. H. Montgomery which was published by C. Sherard at the Musical Bouquet Office in London circa 1855.

 

The Meeting of the Waters

The Meeting of the Waters

 

The existence of these editions and arrangements illustrates Moore’s influence on nineteenth-century composers, arrangers and publishers over the course of a 64 year period (1808-1872) while also highlighting the song’s popularity. The Meeting of the Waters is one of the better known Irish Melodies and appeared in the First Number published in April 1808. The following quote is taken from a footnote included by Moore in an early Power edition.

 

“The Meeting of the Waters” forms a part of that beautiful scenery which lies between Rathdrum and Arklow, in the county of Wicklow, and these lines were suggested by a visit to this romantic spot, in the summer of the year, 1807.”

 

The image above was taken from “Moore’s Irish Melodies: Lalla Rookh; National Airs; Legendary Ballads; Songs, &c with a memoir by J.F. Waller, LL.D.” The illustration perfectly depicts the picturesque imagery conjured up by Moore’s descriptive lyrics.

 

Image Courtesy of Special Collections, McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast

 

Moore and European Art Music part II

In the previous post we considered Moore’s regular music activities as an appreciative auditor, a well-received performer, and a keen music copyist.  This blog will explore the intersection between Moore’s social experience of music and his professional use of it. For Moore, the process of performing songs as he was working on them–and also after they were published as a means of promoting sales — was an established practice. On one occasion over a six-week period we we see him creating  lyrics to an instrumental notturne by the contemporary Italian composer Giuseppe Felice Blangini (1781-1841), and testing the piece out in performance with a social acquaintance Miss Canning before sending it off to his usual music publisher James Power.

NA 3

Decorative book cover from Moore and Henry Bishop’s National Airs,  number 3

At times Moore’s Journal is frustratingly sketchy — for example, on 29 July 1822 he merely tells us: “sent off today to Power the slight sketch of a Song to a little air of Beethoven’s”. (Given the date, this probably refers to ‘Like morning, when her early Breeze’ from number 2 of his Sacred Songs, as it came out in 1824.)  On other occasions, however, we get some indication how Moore’s creative processes were stimulated. From a series of Journal entries we can glean the story of Moore’s discovery of an air by Neapolitan composer Michele Enrico Carafa, “O Cara Memoira” and his eventual success at writing lyrics for it. Moore first encountered this tune on 31 October 1824 at the Bowood residence of his patron Lord Lansdowne, where Lady Pembroke sang it and Moore was immediately moved to copy it out. On 15-16 November he reported a lack of success at putting words to the song; inspiration struck on 11 January 1825 when, upon walking to Bowood from his own cottage, Moore “wrote a verse of a song to Carafa’s beautiful air in going” [i.e. during his walk]. And so by mid-January a new song was ready to send to James Power.

 

Like Morning, SS2

Opening bars of Moore’s lyrics and Henry Bishop’s arrangement of Beethoven’s ‘Like Morning when her early breeze’ from Sacred Songs, number 2.

In a similar tale of inspiration, Moore records hearing Ferdinando Paer and his daughter sing at the Comte de Flahaut’s residence during his Paris sojourn (23 Dec. 1819); he was struck by their rendition with Flahaut of a “very pretty” trio, a harmonization by Paer of “an air that they sing to bagpipes at Rome in Christmas time”. Moore resolved that he “must have it for my National Melodies” (Dowden has identified this as ‘See, the Dawn from Heaven’ from number 3 of Moore’s National Airs). Moore, who was generally a ‘chatty’ writer in both his journal and in his letters, has likely left us more tales of interest to discover over the course of our project.

See the Dawn, NA3

Opening bars of Moore and Henry Bishop’s arrangement of the Roman bagpipe air, National Airs, number 3.

Images courtesy of Special Collections, McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast.

Thomas Moore and European Art Music part I

Moore had a profound response to music, which could move him to tears–even in a public setting. This blog will sketch its presence in his every-day life. Oddly, he was not given music lessons as a child, but seems to have been stimulated by his sister’s lessons on the piano and the presence of the instrument in his family home. Music  for Moore was a form of release. On 27 Sept. 1818, after a day of hard work on his biography of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, he relaxed by copying out a Benedictus of Mozart and the “Et incarnatus est” of Haydn, describing these composers as “both the ‘merum sal’ of music”, playing and singing his new acquisitions before supper with his wife Bessy and one “Mary D”. After the ladies retired that evening, Moore played some piano sonatas of Muzio Clementi, an act which reminded him of hearing his own sister play the very same pieces when he was a child. And so as a youth Moore developed a particular appreciation for the leading European masters of the ‘Classical’ era — Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), and Ludwig van Beethoven  (1770-1827). His Journal frequently details his encounters of theirs (and other’s) music in domestic settings — remember at this time people made their own entertainment in the evening, and informal concerts or music-making sessions amongst friends was common. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f9/The_Hon._Charlotte_Stuart_and_The_Hon._Louisa_Stuart%2C_1830_by_George_Hayter.jpg/512px-The_Hon._Charlotte_Stuart_and_The_Hon._Louisa_Stuart%2C_1830_by_George_Hayter.jpg Continue reading →

Nora Creina and the two Lesbias

Picking up on the previous posting by Conor Caldwell, today we will consider further the dissemination of the highly popular tune, “Nora Creina.” Beethoven and Moore appear to have noticed this tune at around the same time, for the former is believed to have acquired it by 1810 (to honour a commission from the Edinburgh-based published George Thomson),  while the Moore-Stevenson arrangement of it appeared in  Irish Melodies number four of 1811. ‘Nora Creina’ subsequently  inspired various transcriptions for piano, including Augustus Meves (London, 1818), William Vincent Wallace (London, 1856), and R.F. Harvey (London, 1872). Its lilting 6/8 metre also made is a popular choice for dance compilations, including Admired cottillions for balls and private parties (Philadelphia, c. 1835), as well as Pop goes the weasel! (London, c. 1850). Moore's Irish Melodies, London & Gittens With Moore’s lyrics, “Lesbia hath a beaming eye,” the tune was circulated in a small 1814 compilation issued by an anonymous Waterford printer ( held in the National Library of Wales); in 1828 an enterprising publisher in Falkirk issued “Lesbia” as part of Three excellent new songs  (held by University of Glasgow Libraries).  Continued interest in Moore during the Victorian era saw all of Moore’s Irish Melodies  subsequently edited by J.W. Glover ( Dublin: Duffy, 1859), as well as by official copyright holder Francis Robinson (Dublin: Robinson and Russell, [c. 1865]). “Lesbia” attracted at least one additional arrangement, by the London-based composer Alexander S. Cooper (1869). While Lalla Rookh (1817) was perhaps the first of Moore’s works to be issued with numerous illustrations, arguably the most famous of such presentations is the mid-century Longmans edition of the Irish Melodies, with one or more illustrations  for each and every Melody by Daniel Maclise.Lesbia, Longmans illus Maclise (pic) Nora Creina, Longmans illus Maclise

The bibliophiles amongst our readers may enjoy tracking the different variants to Moore’s poem, most of which were promoted by the poet himself–perhaps with some unintentional variants introduced by ‘the printer’s devils’ variously associated with music publisher James Power in London. The very opening of the song, initially presented as “Lesbia hath a beaming eye” in both poem and lyrics, first became “Lesbia has a beaming eye” as early as the letterpress poem of the 1813 J. Power edition. While Moore favoured has exclusively from 1815 in his editions with James Power, by the time the London-based Longmans firm issued his Poetical Works (1840-41), he had reverted to hath. We find both these variants (and others with different dates of origin) live and flourishing in posthumous editions of the Victorian era. And also illustrations celebrating the sophisticated charms of Lesbia as compared with the artless appeal of young Nora Creina.

Do you know of editions or arrangements of ‘Nora Creina’ not mentioned here? Do you think they were stimulated by Moore, or another variant of the tune? Tell us about it on the blog! Nora Creina (illus), Moore's Irish Melodies, London & Gittens

Images reproduced courtesy of Special Collections, McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast.

Lalla Rookh in Europe: the first twenty years

Lalla Rookh is the story of an oriental princess regaled with several fantastic tales by the handsome young poet Feramorz whilst travelling to her own wedding. It  is the quintessential romantic epic. Feramorz (Lalla Rookh’s betrothed, the King of Bucharia, in disguise), successfully courts his bride through his story-telling, and so by the time they reach his kingdom he has captured Lalla Rookh’s heart. Moore, who had started writing Lalla Rookh in 1813, began sending it in installments to Longmans of London between March and May 1817. On the 27th of the month it was ‘out’; by December of that year it was in its sixth London edition.

London was also the site of the initial song sheet publications. The poem itself has several song texts, either sung by Feramorz to the princess or sung by characters within the tales he tells. Moore’s regular music publisher James Power issued songs by Dr John Clarke  and well as Sir John Stevenson in 1817; this was swiftly followed by settings from  Thomas Attwood (4),  J.C. Clifton (1), W. Hawes (2), and G. Kiallmark. 1817 also marked Longman’s first edition of Royal Academician Richard Westall’s engraved ‘Illustrations of Lalla Rookh’.

Lalla Rookh continued to stimulate a notable number of vocal and artistic publications, as well as translations of its poetry, up until the first World War. Possibly the first theatre piece inspired by Moore’s poem was Charles Edward Horn’s Lalla Rookh, or the Cashmerian Minstrel to a text by M. J. Sullivan, which opened at Dublin’s Royal Theatre. The next theatrical setting appears to have been Gaspare Spontini’s ‘Festspiel’, Lalla Rûkh, to a text by S.H. Spicker, which was staged at Berlin’s Royal Palace on 27 May 1822. This stimulated a ‘lyrical drama with ballet’ by Spontini for Berlin’s Royal Opera House in 1822, named after Moore’s enchanting  odalisque, Nurmhahal. That beauty continued to inspire the German song market, with Carl Maria von Weber setting “From Chinadara’s warbling fount”, otherwise known as the ‘Song of Nurmahal’, by 1826.

Moore’s Paris agents Galignani included Lalla Rookh in their 1819 English-language edition of Moore’s works; the brothers Schumann of Zwickau issued the first German translation in 1822. Vienna had its own translation, by Baron de la Motte Fouqué, in 1825. In its second decade Lalla Rookh would travel to the orient (literally; Moore reports that the East India Company had named a ship after his creation in 1827); the poem is published in Swedish translation (Turku, 1829), and again in German at Frankfurt-am-Main (1830). Moore’s tale of the hideous (both morally and physically ) ‘Veil’d Prophet of Khorassan’ is translated into Spanish (El falso Profeta de Cora-san, Barcelona, 1836) as well as Italian (Il Profeto velato, Torino, 1838). As the Victorian era advanced, there was a particular emphasis on illustrated editions of Moore’s poem–but that is a tale for another time.

Are you aware of any translations of Lalla Rookh not mentioned here? Please tell us on the blog!