Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Two New Publications about Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies

Thomas Moore (1779-1852) was one of most popular songwriters of the 19th century. His Irish Melodies (here Vol. 1 & 2, at the Internet Archive), published in 10 volumes between 1808 and 1834, were immensely successful, not only in Britain but also in the USA and in Europe. I have written here a little bit about some of Moore's songs - especially the German versions - and I must admit I was always a little bit surprised about the lack of literature about the musical side of his works. What was available did not reflect Moore's great importance as a songwriter. Thankfully there are now two new publications, one book and one article, that look like they could fill some gaps:
  • Sarah McCleave, The Genesis of Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies, 1808–34, in: Paul Watt et al. (eds.), Cheap Print and Popular Song in the Nineteenth Century. A Cultural History of the Songster, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge & New York, 2017, pp. 47-69 (see Cambridge University Press; see also Google Books & amazon.de
  • Una Hunt, Sources and Style in Moore's Irish Melodies, Routledge, Abingdon & New York, 2017 (see Routledge; see also Google Books and amazon.de
I haven't yet seen the complete books but only the parts available at Google and amazon and I think they are both worthwhile and interesting. Sarah McCleave's article can be found in a new anthology about 19th century songsters. She discusses the early publication history of the Irish Melodies and especially the variations in different print editions. Moore worked constantly on his songs, even after the publication, and regularly introduced little changes. 

Una Hunt's book is particularly important because she is the first one for a long time to discuss the sources of the songs. Until now we only had Veronica ní Chinnéide ground-breaking article (1959) and the helpful additional information in Aloys Fleischmann's Sources of Traditional Irish Songs (1998). She offers here some new insights that are worth considering and I am looking forward to study this work in detail. 

Unfortunately both books a very expensive and as far as I can see there are at the moment only very few copies in German libraries. They can also be bought as ebooks that are a little bit less expensive. To be true, I find the pricing of academic publications like these very problematic. 

I should add that there is at the moment a project about the reception of Moore's Irish Melodies and Popular National Airs in Europe. I hope I can read the resulting publications in a couple of years. But I wish to recommend the project's blog (at Queen’s University Belfast) that offers a lot of interesting articles. 

  • Veronica ní Chinnéide, The Sources of Moore's Melodies, in: The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 89, No. 2, 1959, pp. 109-134 
  • Aloys Fleischmann (ed.), Sources Of Irish Traditional Music, C. 1600 - 1855, 2 Vols., New York & London 1998

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