Tag Archives: National Airs

The response of illustrators and engravers to Thomas Moore

All of Thomas Moore’s works featured in project ERIN – the Irish Melodies, the National Airs, and Lalla Rookh – were conceived to feature contributions from illustrators and engravers at an early stage. With regards to the two song series, each number thereof would sport one or two plates designed by illustrators such as as Thomas Stothard RA (“Row gently here” from the National Airs; “Lesbia hath a beaming eye” from the Irish Melodies), or William Henry Brooke (“As vanquish’d Erin”, and “Oh, ye dead!,” both from the Irish Melodies). The title pages, too each had their own illustration. These designs were executed as engravings (“a printmaking technique that involves making incisions into a metal plate which retain the ink and form the printed image” –tate.org.uk) by such as Charles Heath (1785-1848) or Henry Melville (1792-1870). While the images featured in the Irish Melodies or National Airs – whether produced by James Power in London or William Power in Dublin – were ostensibly the same (i.e. drawn by the same illustrator), the fact that the brothers employed distinct engravers is evident when copies of their works are compared. One of the most famous illustrated volume associated with Thomas Moore is the 1846 edition of the Irish Melodies as illustrated by his fellow Irishman Daniel Maclise RA (1806-1870); Maclise’s work is distinct from earlier illustrated editions in presenting one or two illustrations (or at the very least a decorative border) to each of the Melodies. The popularity of this edition (which was reissued by Longmans as late as 1876) brought Moore’s work to a new generation towards the end of his life and beyond.

Lalla Rookh has a particularly strong association with illustrators. Queen Victoria’s drawing master Richard Westall RA (1765-1836) seems to have been commissioned by the Longman firm to design Illustrations of Lalla Rookh an oriental romance—since this volume came out in the same year as Moore’s ‘oriental romance’. Charles Heath (1785-1848), also associated with illustrations for the Irish Melodies, was the engraver. More famous perhaps was the edition of Lalla Rookh with sixty-nine illustrations designed by John Tenniel (1820-1914), issued several times by Longmans between 1861 and 1880. This  edition already had a rival issued by George Routledge in 1860 that featured the illustrations of numerous artists, including George Housman Thomas (1824-1868), Kenny Meadows (1790-1874), and Edward Henry Corbould (1815-1905). Routledge promoted an illustrated edition of Moore’s Lalla Rookh until at least 1891. Some of these artists, as well as the engraver Charles Heath, were previously involved in an illustrated version of Lalla Rookh brought out by Longmans in 1838.

Much of the illustrative activity associated with Moore’s work took place in the Anglo-Irish orbit, and involved some fairly high profile artists. Project ERIN is able to document a few continental works with engraved illustrations, including Lalla Rookh : ein morganländisches Gedicht, translated by Johann Ludwig Witthaus and published by Schumann of Zwickau in 1822. This work, presumably intended for those with a modest book budget, has but two illustrations, both engraved by one J. Thaeter. We only have the surnames for the two illustrators – Rensch designed a frontispiece of Lalla Rookh, while Baumann designed an image depicting Aliris holding a faint Lalla Rookh after his identity as her beloved Feramorz is revealed. Even more obscure are the identities of the designer and engraver of the frontispiece to volume one of The Works of Thomas Moore, as issued in Paris by Arthus Bertrand in 1820. Depicting the prophet Mokanna unveiing himself to Zelica, this is designed by “Ch” and engraved by “Dx” (see below).

Mokanna unveils himself to Zelica.Paris,Arthus Bertrand, 1820d

Although lithography — “a printing process that uses a flat stone or metal plate on which the image areas are worked using a greasy substance so that the ink will adhere to them” (tate.org.uk) – was discovered in 1798 (britannica.com), the first known example of this technique being used to illustrate Moore is the 1860 illustrated edition of Paradise and the Peri issued by the London-based firm Day & Son. lllustrator Owen Jones (1809-1874) and illuminator Henry Warren (1794-1879) offer a luxuriously colourful response to this particular tale of Moore’s, a sample of which is produced below.

Peri with dead lovers.Jones and Warren

Images courtesy of Special Collections, Queen’s University Belfast

We conclude this blog by announcing that two electronic collections that will be available through project ERIN’s dedicated website by the end of this month are here given a ‘soft launch’ through their home site in omeka.qub.ac.uk.
Collection number 17, ‘Moore’s Irish Melodies” Texts and Illustrations”, includes numerous still images that document the efforts of the artists mentioned above, as well as others active in London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow in the Victorian era. See also ‘Lalla Rookh in 19th-century Europe’ (collection 15) for 71 images associated with that work. (A third collection, related to the National Airs, is still under development.) All of these collections will be interpreted through OMEKA exhibitions that will become available through the project ERIN website by the end of August 2017.

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 in Paris

This month of national natal days suggests a couple of blog posts about Moore’s reactions — both as a person and as an artist– to other nations in which he lived. He had a strong connection with France,  having lived there for the best part of four years (January 1819-November 1822), during which time Moore recorded his  impressions in his Journal. Upon arriving in Paris he secured “a little fairy suite of apartments” on the fashionable Rue Chanterine, venturing to the boulevard theatres the very next day, where he was “much amused”. Common Sense and Genius. StothardOf Spontini’s Olympie at the Paris Opera Moore declared “Nothing can be more poetically imagined than the scenery and ballet of this opera.” After hearing Rossini’s music at a ball,  Moore described it as “delicious”, the socialite in him appreciating “the ease with which all  Rossini’s lively songs and choruses may be turned into quadrilles and waltzes”. He quickly made the acquaintance of the fashionable novelist Madame de Souza-Bothello, discussing her current romance (novel) whilst it was in progress. With the arrival of wife Bessy and his brood of children, the family moved to a cottage with a garden on the Champs Elysees. Moore swiftly became part of Madame de Flahault’s social circle, singing at intimate gatherings attended by other ex-pats. By May 1820 Moore had a wide social circle that he entertained at home, al fresco with champagne under the trees when the weather permitted.  In the summer of 1820 he joined with the rest of Paris in watching various adventurers travel by hot-air balloon, including the ill-fated Mademoislle Garnerin (who was eventually lost on one such voyage).  Moore reported a new-found appreciation for “the charms of inanimate nature” on a walk from St. Cloud to Ville d’Avray (this appreciation of natural scenery certainly comes across in some of the Irish Melodies). Although he  was underwhelmed by a ball given by the Gardes du Corps at the Chateau of the Tuileries (“not so fine as a I expected”), Moore expressed complete delight with his family’s summer residence in La Butte, declaring “as far as tranquility, fine scenery, and sweet sunshine go, I could not wish to pass a more delightful summer.” He met Princesse Tallyrand at a dinner in May 1821, taking pleasure in her evident engagement with a French prose translation of his Lalla Rookh, as well as her kindness in praising the beauty of his wife; Moore’s uxoriousness was legendary, and he cheerfully reported in his Journal that an acquaintance declared “every one speaks of your conjual attention, and I assure you all Paris is disgusted with it.” The Journal records Moore’s personal impressions rather than his political views, but he tells with sympathy an  anecdote he learned of a French Royalist he met, whose young lady was arrested (and subsequently imprisoned for six months) merely for wearing a tricolore ribbon to a masked ball. Initially admiring of Napoleon (“this thunder-storm of a fellow”), Moore described his exile to St Helena as “unsportsmanlike”.  Moore was inspired by his Parisian period to write the epistolary satire, The Fudge Family in Paris, which, as Ronan Kelly notes in his Bard of Erin, has “an autobiographical ring” to certain of its details. Moore also featured no fewer than ten French Melodies in his six-volume series of National Airs (1818-1827).  Moore’s presence (through publications of his work) in Paris will be charted further through other outcomes of this project.

Common Sense and Genius.PowerAre you aware of the past-times and impressions of other visitors to Paris during the 1810s and ’20s? If so, tell us about it on the blog!

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


20 March 2016

Where are the Visions from National Airs Number 5
Where are the Visions from National Airs Number 5

In our previous blog we mentioned that a total of 72 songs were published across the 6 Numbers of the National Airs.  The origin of all but two of the airs used is identified i.e. Slumber, Oh! Slumber and Where are the visions, both from Number 5.  Our previous blog was about Slumber, Oh! Slumber, and today’s blog is about Where are the visionsWhere are the visions is set in the key of F major and in 3/8 time.  Following a 16 bar piano introduction the singer begins in bar 17.  Each of the four verses is divided by a piano interlude.  The piano accompaniments for all songs in Number 5 were composed by Henry R. Bishop.  Many of the National Airs include an option for more than one voice and are listed in the index in Power’s early editions as ‘Harmonised Airs’.  As can be seen in the photograph Where are the visions may be performed by one singer or as a duet; the duet is set in thirds.  The words of the song are transcribed below:

“Where are the visions that round me once hover’d,

Forms that had grace in their shadows alone,

Looks, fresh as light from a star just discover’d,

And voices that music might take for her own?”

Time, while I spoke, with his wings resting o’er me,

Heard me say “where are those visions, oh, where?”

And, pointing his wand to the sunset before me,

Said, with a voice like the hollow wind, “There!”

Fondly I look’d, when the wizard had spoken,

On to the dimshining [sic] ruins of Day,

And there, in that light, like a talisman broken,

Saw the bright fragments of Hope melt away.

“Oh! Lend me thy wings, Time” I hastily utter’d,

Impatient to catch the last glimmer that shone;

But scarcely again had the dark wizard flutter’d

His wing o’er my head, ere the light all was gone.

If you know the origin of the air for Where are the vision please let us know in the comments.

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


10 March 2016

Image blog Post 5
Slumber, Oh! Slumber
Moore’s National Airs Number 5

While examining copies of Moore’s National Airs extant in Special Collections at the McClay Library, QUB, I was amazed at the number of different countries and cultures which inspired the poet-songwriter.  The song series includes airs from Spain, India, Hungary, Russia, Denmark and Malta.  There are 12 songs in each of the 6 Numbers.  That makes a total of 72 songs in the National Airs series.  Slumber, Oh! Slumber from Number 5 is one of only two songs in the whole series where the origin of the air is not identified.  The song is in the key of B flat major, set in 2/4 time and has two verses.  The singer begins in bar 11 after a 10 bar piano introduction.  The two verses are divided by a 6 bar piano interlude.  I’ve transcribed the words below:

“Slumber, oh! Slumber if, sleeping thou mak’st

My heart beat so wildly, I’m lost, when thou wak’st!

Thus sung I to a maiden, Who slept one summer’s day,

And like a flow’r o’er laden With noontide sunshine, lay.

Breathe not, oh, breathe not, ye winds, o’er her cheeks,

If mute thus she charm me, I’m lost when she speaks.

Thus sing I, while awaking, She murmurs words, that seems,

As if her lips were taking Farewell of some sweet dream.”

Perhaps some of our readers might know the origin of the air.

Let us know in the comments.

Image Courtesy of Special Collections, The 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


20 January 2016

Image Blog Post 1

ERIN, a Horizon 2020 funded research project hosted by Queen’s University Belfast, was launched on 1 September 2015.  The aim of this research project is to map Europe’s response to Thomas Moore by examining the dissemination and reception of the Irish Melodies, National Airs and the music associated with Lalla Rookh.  This blog is a platform for sharing our work and will allow interested readers to track the progress of our research project while also providing a forum for discussion.  We expect to make some exciting discoveries along the way and will be posting content twice a month.

Irish poet-songwriter Thomas Moore (1779-1852) is a significant nineteenth-century figure, renowned for his articulation of national identity through the creation and exchange of poetry and song.  Early printed sources for the Irish Melodies, National Airs and Lalla Rookh are extant in libraries throughout Europe.  Our research begins with the Gibson-Massie-Moore Collection housed in Special Collections at the McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast.  The Gibson-Massie-Moore collection is the largest collection of Moore’s published works in the world; it contains over 1,000 volumes of printed music, texts and volumes of illustrations.  We will keep you posted as we develop the various outputs of this project.

Image Courtesy of ContentDM Thomas Moore Music Project