Beethoven's Irish Songs: Revisited

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A complete recording of Beethoven’s Irish Songs, produced by the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, under the auspices of its Research Foundation for Music in Ireland was released in 2014 on the 200th anniversary of the first publication of the songs. Beethoven’s arrangements of traditional Irish airs are for voice(s) and piano, with optional violin and cello. The recording, featuring almost thirty performers, staff, students and alumni of Conservatory of Music and Drama, is also the first complete recording of the Irish Airs, using a new, chronological catalogue by Professor Barry Cooper (University of Manchester).

A key aspect of this recording is the re-texting of most of the songs as Beethoven did not set the texts. Instead, he arranged the melodies sent to him by George Thomson, the Edinburgh publisher who had commissioned the work. Thomson then applied the texts retrospectively. Unable to use the poetry of Robert Burns or Thomas Moore, Thomson had to be satisfied with texts of mixed quality from minor poets. Indeed, in a letter to The Musical Times written in 1927, the Irish music historian William Henry Grattan Flood, wrote: ‘In this Centenary Year of Beethoven it ought not to be an unprofitable commercial venture for some English publisher to risk a republication of Beethoven’s Irish Melodies, and, so far as possible, to substitute Moore’s lyrics for those sent by Thomson’. Some 85 years later, the late Tomás Ó Súilleabháin, musicologist, singer and broadcaster, selected texts, mostly by Thomas Moore and Robert Burns for this new edition of the Irish Songs.

This recording features artists Alison Browner (mezzo), Colette Boushell (soprano), Sinead Campbell-Wallace (soprano), Aoife O’Sullivan (soprano), Andrew Boushell (tenor), Eamon Mulhall (tenor), Lawrence Thackeray (tenor) and many up-and-coming young vocalists. The pianists are all members of staff of the Conservatory’s Keyboard and Vocal departments, and the string parts are performed by Duo Chagall (violinist Gillian Williams and cellist Arun Rao).

Further information about the project can be found at
General enquiries can be sent to: info[at]

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