Tag Archives: James Power

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

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.

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.


20 February 2016


Moore's National Airs Number 1
Moore’s National Airs Number 1

During October and November I spent time examining 32 editions of Moore’s National Airs extant in Special Collections at the McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast.  Original titles for Moore’s National Airs include National Melodies and Airs of all Countries.  Examination of Moore’s letters show that his publisher, James Power, appears to have proposed the former title while the poet-songwriter’s own preference was for the latter title.  I believe that what eventually became the final title, i.e. National Airs, encompasses the best of what was proposed while also capturing the essence of this particular song series.

Moore's National Airs Number 1
Moore’s National Airs Number 1

The images in this blog show the title pages from two different editions of the First Number of National Airs.  The edition shown in the first image was published by James Power, 34 Strand, London and bears the date of publication; April 23rd 1818.  The edition shown in the second image was published by James’ brother William who was based at 4 Westmorland Street, Dublin.  Each title page provides us with information about the various individuals involved in creating these early editions; the composer of the piano accompaniments was Sir John Stevenson; the words, of course, were by Thomas Moore; both title pages include an illustration drawn by T. [Thomas] Stothard.  Do you notice any differences between the two title pages?  They may be somewhat difficult to identify in the photographs.  The price shown on the James Power edition (on left) is 12 shillings, the price shown on the William Power edition is 13 shillings.  Despite including an illustration by the same artist each publisher engaged a different engraver; J. Mitan is the engraver attributed on James Power’s edition and Martyn of Dublin is the engraver attributed on William Power’s edition.  If you enjoyed this post share it on Twitter and Facebook.  Thank you!

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