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.
“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.
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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, .
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 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
During the month of July (2016) I spent two weeks researching at the British Library (BL); the St Pancras branch which is located at 96 Euston Road, London. My experience of researching here was extremely positive – it’s a state of the art facility and the library staff are professional, helpful and friendly. Since my reader’s pass expired in 2013 I first needed to visit Reader Registration (on the ground floor) to renew my pass. This is a straightforward process, however expect it to be busy. On arriving at the desk you are asked for the required documentation (see website http://www.bl.uk/). Provided all is in order, you are then directed to one of the PCs to fill in an online form and receive your number in the queue. Once you go through the registration/renewal process the assistant will issue your new card. Coats and bags are not allowed in the Reading Rooms; lockers, which require a £1 coin, are provided on the lower ground floor.
I was researching in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room located on the first floor. To order items you must register online via the ‘Explore the British Library’ page. Once you have your reader’s pass you can order in advance of your visit online. You can track the progress of your order by clicking on ‘My Reader Requests ‘and orders take up to 70 minutes to arrive to the reading room. You can order up to 10 items each day, however you will only be issued 6 items at a time. Up to 6 items can also be held over until the next day. The Rare Books and Music Reading Room is well equipped; despite the large number of desks available to readers it is best to get there early to ensure your seat. The reading room times are listed on the library’s website (http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/quickinfo/loc/stp/opening/index.html). Each desk has a reading lamp, wi-fi is available onsite and there are three cafés, a restaurant and coffee dock onsite. The shop is also worth a visit whether looking for an interesting book or a souvenir!