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Thread: O'Carolan

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    Default O'Carolan



    Some people think of O'Carolan as simply a folk harper, but in fact he was much more. Turlough O'Carolan (1670 – 25 March 1738) was a blind early Irish harper, composer and singer whose great fame is due to his gift for melodic composition.

    In 1684, his father took a job with the MacDermot Roe family of Alderford House. Mrs. MacDermot Roe gave him an education, and he showed talent in poetry. After being blinded by smallpox, at the age of eighteen O'Carolan was apprenticed by Mrs MacDermot Roe to a good harper. At the age of twenty-one, being given a horse and a guide, he set out to travel Ireland and compose songs for patrons. (Wiki)

    Most of O'Carolan's music, much of which is in dance rhythm, is cheerful and lively, reflecting his own outgoing temperament. His pieces show influences of Irish folk melody, the traditional harp music of Ireland, and Italian art music. He was unusual among the Irish harpers in looking beyond the native tradition for musical inspiration. He knew and was greatly influenced by the music of the Italian composers of his own time, such as Vivaldi and Corelli, and he greatly admired Geminiani, whom he almost certainly met in Dublin. Much of his music attempts the Italian forms, with sequences and imitations: some of his longer pieces have a quick jig added as a coda, in the manner of Corelli. (Grove)

    The earliest collection to contain tunes by Carolan was A Collection of The Most Celebrated Irish Tunes, published by the Neale brothers in 1724. Tunes by Carolan are also found in A Favourite Collection of … old Irish Tunes of … Carolan (Dublin, c1780), in many 18th- and 19th-century anthologies and printed collections of Irish music, and in manuscript collections, particularly those of Edward Bunting (Belfast, Queen's University) and George Petrie (Grove)

    Bunting organised a Harp festival in Belfast in 1792 in an attempt to preserve what was left of the tradition of Irish harp music.

    In the Twentieth Century, his work is associated with two people - Derek Bell, the Irish harper and the Irish pianist J J Sheridan who has recorded most of O'Carolan's music with his own harmonies.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Examples of O'Carolan's works include:

    Carolan's Concerto The Chieftains and Derek Bell

    Derek Bell - Carolan's Receipt Fairly long

    Carolan's Farewell To Music J J Sheridan

    J J Sheridan's Art of Turlough Carolan - long
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    I am so glad that Carolan has made it into TalkClassical, as he stands at my garden gate, where my love for folk music and for baroque classical music meets up.

    Here is a beautiful and thought-provoking example of O'Carolan's art, The Separation of Soul & Body:





    Thank you, Taggart, for this research, and for playing Carolan so beautifully on our piano. The music is in your bones.
    Last edited by Ingélou; Aug-23-2013 at 17:49.
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Default Princess Royal

    One of "Carolan's" tunes that cause some controversy is Miss MacDermott (or the Princess Royal).

    Here it is by J J Sheridan.

    The interesting thing is that it was published in Walsh in England about 1730 at a time when the title "Princess Royal" had only just been introduced. Even more entertainingly, the tune was taken up by William Shield and put to words describing the triumph of the Arethusa.

    William Shield (1754-1829) was a County Durham man whose father was a singing teacher. After his father's death Shield became a boat builder although he also learned the violin and began to study music with Charles Avison (who was a noted composer and organist of the time) eventually becoming Master of the King's Music in 1817. His aspirations in music were vested in several fields including the production of glees, pantomimes, musical plays, church music, operas and string quartets as well as at least two books of musical theory. Haydn was counted as a friend.

    Amongst his many projects, Shield collaborated with the Dublin-born but thoroughly Anglicised John O'Keeffe on the opera The Poor Soldier (1783), from which a number of pieces were taken as fodder by various broadside ballad printers; and, like O'Keeffe, was known to have introduced traditional airs into his works. It was O'Keeffe who seems to have taken up the music of Turlough O'Carolan; but Shield, apparently, was the one who used O'Carolan's tune, Miss McDermott and welded it to the words of The Arethusa, though this may have been through the intermediary stage of Walsh's Complete Dancing Master, first published in 1730 where it carried the title of Princess Royal.

    Bunting had it from his sources that it was definitely a Carolan tune.

    Even more entertainingly, it is now used (in a major key) for morris dancing. What is the world coming to?
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    ^Interesting! That has always been my favourite work by O'Carolan!

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