Tag Archives: Ludwig van Beethoven

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.

 

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.