Archive for October 20th, 2016

The British Isles: A Musical Tour – Ireland

Ireland’s strong folk tradition makes it hardly surprising that composers, both of classical and pop music, have drawn widely on the country’s musical heritage. Inspirational landmarks are hardly few and far between either – whether you prefer to imagine Bax and Stanford living it up in a packed Dublin bar or, perhaps, hiking along the deserted, windswept Antrim coast is up to you!

Dublin
Charles Stanford’s birthplace
Stanford was born in Dublin on 30th September 1852 and was educated there until going up to Queen’s College, Cambridge. Chiefly known as a teacher and for his sacred choral music, in particular his settings of the evening service, Irish influences can be widely seen in many of his other works. Shamus O’Brien, for instance, is undoubtedly his most successful opera. However, given that a fair percentage of Stanford’s operas went unpublished, this is perhaps not saying much.

Derry
The Derry Air
Perhaps the most famous Irish folksong of them all – certainly to those from outside the island – has provided material for many a composer, not least Grainger and Frank Bridge. The former’s setting is for either piano or chorus and orchestra, while the latter’s is for string quartet. But do they capture the magnificence of the River Foyle, the formidable sight of the city walls or the drama of the surrounding countryside?

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