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Irish Classical Music Composers

Irish Classical Music Composers

I could name German, Italian, French, Polish, Russian Classical composers… but Irish?!

Like 17th Century Flemish artists, 18th Century composer-pianists had been associated as reputable if from from Germany and Italy. But what about a Classical composer from Ireland? Until I had read around the subject more I could not name many famous ones! I did not require more than 1 hand to count on and I think that is dreadful. Was this my personal lack of knowledge or a general lack of information? Or both?

So my questions led me to Classic FM’s article ‘Ireland’s Finest: musicians who have put Ireland on the classical map.’ https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/latest/best-irish-musicians/

I discovered names such as Michael Kelly (tenor pal of Mozart’s), George Osbourne (advisor to Berlioz), Charles Stanford (the tutor of Holst and Vaughan Williams) and Michael Balfe (Opera composer including The Bohemian Girl with aria ‘I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls’). I wondered why I never knew about these composers before. I think the books we used to learn music at school and Uni. glorified European composers but seemed to draw a line at London like that’s as far as the good Classical music stretched! Perhaps I did not take the time to read around the subject enough but it seems to me that it is an area lacking researched publishing.

Yet a small selection of particularly limited articles from today’s web certainly do not do these composers adequate justice. Such league of composers that contributed wholly are surely not all to be forgotten so easily!?

This past week I sat at the piano to learn John Field’s Nocturnes. As Chopin and Liszt drew inspiration from Field, I began to appreciate Field’s delicate melodic compositions for myself. I tried to learn more about John Field and discovered he was mentioned in ‘War and Peace,’ (*of which I have read 7 chapters of so far in my life and have no idea when and if the remaining chapters will get looked at).

Without naming which Field nocturne was Countess Rostova’s favourite, I wonder which nocturne Leo Tolstoy had in his own mind when he penned War and Peace and referenced Field’s nocturne being played on harp. I have not yet chosen my favourite and am pleased there are 18 Nocturnes to discover. It is not an imposition to get to know his music either, for these nocturnes are enchanting. Still, Field must have had a greater hand span than mine since my left hand is getting better exercise than my legs with stretching arpeggios. I also have to give Field credit for his dedicated use of multiple successive ledger lines keeping my eye sight tested and forcing my piano lamp to shine at its fullest brightness level when I doubt my readings!

I hope to discover more about John Field and indeed Irish Classical musicians in general and wish there was more information available to us all!

I must acknowledge an interesting article I was able to discover that is written by Basil Walsh, found here: https://basilwalsh.wordpress.com/2008/05/25/rish-classical-musicians-seven-pioneers-of-the-19th-century/

Readers, please do share if you have further information on Classical Irish composers who deserve a mention! ♣♩♪♬

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