Recent Music Books (January 2022)

An image from the cover of 'The Forde Collection', just published by the Irish Traditional Music Archive – Nathaniel Grogan's 'Dry Bridge at Blarney', c. 1790 (Located at Fota House, Co. Cork, courtesy Irish Heritage Trust)

Recent Music Books (January 2022)

A round-up of new and recent music books including the William Forde manuscripts, an introduction to old Irish harp playing techniques, the songs of Elizabeth Cronin, histories of Jeffers in Bandon and the Wexford Festival Opera, a memoir by Martin Hayes, studies of Sibelius and Mozart, and a collection of British folk songs of crime and punishment.
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Please send information on new music books to newreleases [at] journalofmusic.com or see here.

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The Forde Collection – Irish Traditional Music from the William Forde Manuscripts
Nicholas Carolan & Caitlín Uí Éigeartaigh (editors)
Irish Traditional Music Archive
December 2021

William Forde (1797–1850) from Cork was a classical musician specialising in concert flute and piano. He was also a composer and arranger, a concert promoter, a teacher of music, editor of numerous collections of music, and author of a range of works on music. From 1840, however, he was also increasingly attracted to the collection and study of Irish traditional music. 

Collecting first in Munster, he later took down music from Irish singers and musicians in London, and then undertook a major collecting trip to Connacht during the Famine year of 1846. His collection of Irish melodies, the largest made until his time, remained unpublished at his death.

The Irish Traditional Music Archive has now published The Forde Collection, a collection of 922 pieces from the William Forde Manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy, edited by Nicholas Carolan and Caitlín Uí Éigeartaigh. About two thirds of the melodies are the airs of songs in Irish and English; the remainder are mainly jigs, harp tunes, marches, work-tunes and keens. The book also includes essays on the collector and the editorial procedures of the edition, appendices and indexes.

Visit www.itma.ie/shop/forde.

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An Introduction to Old Irish Harp Playing Techniques
Sylvia Crawford
Simon Chadwick Publishing
July 2021

Irish harper Sylvia Crawford’s book, An Introduction to Old Irish Harp Playing Techniques, explains how to play the first three tunes that were traditionally taught to early Irish harpers, ‘Mailí Bhán’, ‘Féileacán’ and ‘Burn’s March’. The tunes were collected by Edward Bunting from harper Patrick Quin from Armagh, where Crawford is also from. She has undertaken significant research into Quin’s life and music and that has influenced the insights in this book. Crawford writes:

The process of studying, analysing, interpreting and reconstructing (with a lot of trial and error) has led me to a deep appreciation of the ingenious and intricate art of playing the old Irish harp. The system is highly complex, but is based on very simple ideas. The fingering techniques combine with each other in various ways, between the hands, to create multiple subtle layers of complexity, often hidden from the listener and the uninitiated. It is a different way of thinking and playing from what I have ever experienced.

The book also includes sections on Bunting, Quin, the oral tradition, keys and modes, and more.

Visit https://simonchadwick.net/publishing/crawford.

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The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin – Irish Traditional Singer
Dáibhí Ó Cróinín (editor)
Four Courts Press
November 2021

This is a new, revised and slightly enlarged edition of a substantial collection first published in 2000. The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin – Irish Traditional Singer, edited by her grandson Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, formerly a lecturer in history at NUI Galway, includes a biography of the singer, and the music and texts of all her songs plus a detailed analysis of each.

Elizabeth (Bess) Cronin (1879–1956) was a well-known traditional singer of her time. Séamus Ennis, Alan Lomax, Jean Ritchie and George Pickow, and Diane Hamilton all recorded her and collected her songs. Over eighty of her songs are captured on tape, but only a few of these have ever been available to the public. The book is accompanied by a two-CD set of original recordings, from public and private collections. The new preface by Ó Cróinín also responds to some issues raised by the first edition.

Visit www.fourcourtspress.ie/books/new-year-folder/elizabeth-cronin/

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Jeffers of Bandon – A History
Isla Jeffers
October 2021

This new history tells the story of the well-known piano supplier in Bandon, County Cork. The retailer’s origins stretch back to 1904 when it opened as a bakery and grocery shop. The music department arrived in the 1970s and Jeffers became a leading suppler of organs and pianos. This history traces the origins back to John Jeffers, who as a fourteen-year-old farmer’s son left Courtmacsherry in West Cork for a job as a grocer’s messenger boy in Bandon. All proceeds from the book go to the Bandon branch of RNLI and the Seamen’s Christian Friends Society.

Visit https://teachsolas.ie.

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The History of Wexford Festival Opera, 1951–2021
Karina Daly
Four Courts Press
October 2021

The History of Wexford Festival Opera, 1951-2021, traces the history of the festival, from its establishment by Tom Walsh up to the present day. Written by Karina Daly, who wrote the previous history titled Tom Walsh’s Opera – A History of the Wexford Festival (2004), this new 352-page full-colour book contains many photos by Sir Clive Barda. It also includes an epilogue from President Michael D. Higgins, who is patron of the festival, and a contribution by writer Colm Tóibín.

Visit www.fourcourtspress.ie/books/new-year-folder/tom-walshs-opera/

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Shared Notes: A Musical Journey
Martin Hayes
Transworld Ireland
October 2021

Shared Notes: A Musical Journey is the autobiography of renowned fiddle-player Martin Hayes. It covers his childhood growing up in East Clare, learning music from his father and playing with the Tulla Céilí Band, and then moving to America where his career as a professional musician began – not without some drama however. Hayes overcame many personal challenges along the way, and the book is an inspiring story of redemption, and spiritual and musical growth. Read our full review here.

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Jean Sibelius: Life, Music, Silence
Daniel M. Grimley
Reaktion Books
September 2021

Jean Sibelius died in 1957 aged 91. Daniel M. Grimley’s recent book is intended as an introduction to the Finnish composer for the general reader, and also offers fresh interpretations for those more familiar with his music. The book situates his work in an interdisciplinary environment and pays attention to his relationship with architecture, literature, politics and the visual arts. Grimley is a Professor of Music at the University of Oxford. He is also the author of Delius and the Sound of Place (2018).

Visit www.reaktionbooks.co.uk

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Mozart in Motion: His Work and His World in Pieces
Patrick Mackie
Granta Books
September 2021

Patrick Mackie’s Mozart in Motion mixes biographical storytelling with deep dives into the experience of listening to reveal a musician in dialogue with the progressive European culture of the time. The book follows Mozart from his adolescence in Salzburg to his early death, from his relationship with his father to his romantic attachments, and from his successful operas to his intimate compositions on keyboard. Mackie is also a poet and has published with Carcanet and CB Editions.

Visit https://granta.com/products/mozart-in-motion/

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Who Killed Cock Robin? – British Folk Songs of Crime and Punishment
Stephen Sedley and Martin Carthy
Reaktion Books
July 2021

A collaboration between renowned folk singer Martin Carthy and retired British High Court Judge Stephen Sedley, and published in association with the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Who Killed Cock Robin? is an anthology of songs that explore entanglements with the law. The collection is divided into headings such as poaching, affray and riot, homicide, arson, fratricide, and much more. The collection contains over sixty songs, and each song includes an explanatory note.

Visit www.reaktionbooks.co.uk

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Please send information on new music books to newreleases [at] journalofmusic.com or see here.


Published on 4 January 2022

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