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.
ERIN documents two of Thomas Moore’s song series – the Irish Melodies (1808-1834) and National Airs (1818-1827) – as well as music inspired by his ‘oriental romance’ Lalla Rookh (1817). ERIN enables the user to track the production and dissemination of these pieces in Europe from their respective dates of creation through to 1880.
All of ERIN’s resources are now available at www.erin.qub.ac.uk. This website unites the previously available blog and OMEKA resources (images) with some new features, including podcasts, and a catalogue.
ERIN’s home page directs the user to its resources, and also to a user’s Survey that will help us to plan further projects on Thomas Moore. The ‘Irish Melodies’ tab leads to an introductory page, at the bottom of which are links to two collections of images dedicated to this series, which enable the user to discover different editions of the texts, illustrations inspired by the Irish Melodies, and also editions of the music. The reader can also access two digital exhibitions on the Irish Melodies. Likewise, the ‘National Airs’ tab leads to some introductory text, with a link to a collection of images documenting Moore’s series alongside some similar collections of European national songs, with another link to a digital exhibition. The ‘Lalla Rookh’ tab leads to a collection of images and a digital exhibition that document musical works and illustrations inspired by Moore’s Lalla Rookh. The Podcasts tab leads to recordings that document rarely heard music inspired by Lalla Rookh, and some of Moore’s Irish Melodies in rarely heard arrangements. The Blog tab leads to ‘Thomas Moore in Europe’, a resource with over 50 short essays that can be browsed, or searched through its index. Topics include: concert music, domestic music, exhibitions, illustrated editions, Irish music, European libraries, pantomime, publishers, songs, and theatre music. One blog provides details of our radio documentary, “An oriental romance: Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh”.
The catalogue: the ‘Home’ tab and the ‘Search resources’ tab leads to the ‘simple search’ interface of the ERIN catalogue, a resource which documents editions of Moore’s Irish Melodies, his National Airs, and also music inspired by these series as well as music inspired by Lalla Rookh. The time frame is 1808-1880; European publications only are featured; it represents the collections of eight European libraries in Ireland, the UK, France, and Germany. The introduction to this resource will be continued in the next blog.
On this, the 240th- anniversary of Moore’s birth, we are pleased to announce a forthcoming exhibition, ‘Discovering Thomas Moore: Ireland in nineteenth-century Europe’, which will be held at the Royal Irish Academy for six months from 17th June 2019. This exhibition is a co-operative venture between the Royal Irish Academy and Special Collections and Archives at Queen’s University Belfast. ERIN’s on-line resource – including the previously inaccessible database-catalogue – will be launched at this exhibition, with computer terminals as part of the display. In autumn 2019 a series of lectures at the Royal Irish Academy will complement the exhibition. For further information see: https://www.ria.ie/discovering-thomas-moore-ireland-nineteenth-century-europe-0
Peri descending to fallen hero. Lithograph by Henry Warren, inspired by Thomas Moore’s ‘Paradise and the Peri’. Published by Day & Son, 1860. Image courtesy of Special Collections, Queen’s University Belfast.
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
“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.
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.
Novello. Preface, Moore’s Irish Melodies with new Symphonies and Accompaniments for the Pianoforte by M. W. Balfe. London, .
As 1894 drew to a close, the prominent publisher Boosey & Hawkes prepared to issue a volume of songs with the title, Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore the original airs restored & arranged for the voice with pianoforte accompaniment by Charles Villiers Stanford. Dublin-born Stanford’s intentions are made plain in its preface, where the composer identified this as
an opportunity … of laying before the musical public an edition of the Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore, in which the airs could be given in an accurate form as noted by such excellent antiquarians as [Edward] Bunting and [George] Petrie.
Stanford’s “Notes to the Airs,” which offers comments on individual songs, evidence his careful research in the collections of Bunting and Petrie as well as those of Smollett Holden and the venerable harper Turlough O’Carolan. Stanford compared variants of the tunes for which Moore had written original lyrics and then set the version he deemed the most authentic or superior. These “Notes” are critical in the full sense of the word, as Moore’s presentation of these Irish tunes is variously deemed ‘wrong’ or ‘mistaken’; he also stands accused of ‘spoiling’ or ‘destroying’ the original character of the airs — either by altering the time or tempo, or by raising the (characteristically Irish) flattened seventh degree of the melodic scale.
Included here is a recording of “The harp that once in Tara’s Halls” (Irish Melodies first number) one of the rare tunes about which Stanford makes no comment in his “Notes”. We can infer from this silence that he accepted Moore’s treatment of the tune. His approach to the accompaniment, however, is notably different to Sir John Stevenson’s: rather than repeating the same accompaniment for each verse, Stanford writes a through-composed piece. A simple chorale-style accompaniment supports the elegiac tone of Moore’s first verse, where the harp is described as “mute”, or “asleep”. In the second verse, as the harp “swells” to tell a “tale of ruin” the accompaniment is accordingly more rhythmically active, with the voice of the harp suggested by strummed chords of considerable textural weight.
Rachel McClelland (soprano) and Brian Connor perform C.V. Stanford’s “The Harp that once”.
Stanford came to his Moore project with prior experience in setting the lyrics of an Irish poet to Irish tunes: in 1883 Boosey & Hawkes published his setting of some fifty of Alfred Perceval Graves’s lyrics as Songs of old Ireland. A 1931 obituary for Graves suggested that it was he, rather than Moore, who demonstrated
a careful regard for the true antique form of the music.
While Moore was a modernist who sought to popularise the music of Ireland, Graves and Stanford, and indeed all the collectors on whom they and Moore depended, were attempting to preserve it. But Stanford (Preface) at least recognised that the act of writing an accompaniment to this melodic music was a significant intervention, admitting that it was necessary in this to be
frankly modern … the better [to bring the] force of the melodies home to the listener.
And while he has little patience with Moore’s approach to rendering Irish tunes, he lauded his predecessor for creating
masterpieces of lyrical writing … [and] the first popular presentation of the Folk-songs of Ireland.
Stanford’s ambivalent attitude towards Moore was entirely characteristic of his time, and was arguably part of a changing sensibility within Ireland about how culture could and should be harnessed to articulate national identity. On 6 February 1895, shortly after his Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore was published, Dublin’s Freeman’s Journal named Stanford as a supporter of a new development, an annual festival of national music that was to become the Feis Ceoil. The Feis Ceoil, founded in 1897, is a significant cultural institution that still thrives today, in 2018.
Obituary. “Mr A.P. Graves.” The Times (London), 28 December 1931. The Times Digital Archives. Artemis Gale Primary Sources. Accessed 20/07/2018.
“The Revival of Irish Music.” Freeman’s Journal (Dublin), 6 February 1895. British Library Newspapers. Artemis Gale Primary Sources. Accessed 20/07/2018.
Stanford, C.V. “Notes to the Airs.” Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore the original airs restored & arranged for the voice with pianoforte accompaniment by Charles Villiers Stanford. London: Boosey & Hawkes, .
Stanford, C.V. Preface. Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore.