Music, Ireland and the seventeenth century

Irish Musical Studies 10

Barra Boydell & Kerry Houston, editors

Hardback €49.50
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ISBN: 978-1-84682-140-0
May 2009. 224pp; ills.

'EDITOR’S CHOICE' in Classical Music magazine.

'Launched in 1990, the Irish Musical Studies series reaches a milestone with this tenth volume offering a first concentrated look at Ireland’s musical life in the 17th century ... Co-editor Barra Boydell’s chapter on Richard Boyle, the first Earl of Cork, whose household septet equalled and even surpassed the English norm, is a fascinating portrait of the nascent Anglo-Irish ascendancy and packed with illuminating details. Boydell shares authorship with Máire Egan-Buffet of another aristocratic portrait that casts light on musical life in Ulster in its examination of the wellstocked twin libraries of Lord Edward Conway. Boydell’s co editor Kerry Houston’s lavishly detailed analysis of the post-Restoration repertoire of Dublin’s two Anglican cathedrals and Denise Neary’s probing examination of the comparatively impoverished musical resources available to parish churches, offer well-contrasted and revealing studies. Two engrossing vignettes of individuals – Andrew Robinson’s of Narcissus Marsh, archbishop of Dublin and subsequently of Armagh, who invented the words 'acoustics' and 'microphones'; and Christopher DS Field’s of John Birchensha, who advocated a 'mathematical way of composure' – show how their rationalist approach to music anticipated the enlightenment era that was to follow. And the creation and consumption of Irish traditional music and the prominent role of Irish harpers – 'their solemn music much liked of strangers' – at home and abroad is eloquently dealt with by Adrian Scahill and John Cunningham. This is a valuable book that pushes open doors on many facets of Irish musical life from the hidden history of a previously overlooked century', Michael Quinn, Classical Music (June 2009).

'This book is a considerable achievement: it throws important new light on a number of aspects of music and seventeenth-century Ireland, and it is well edited and produced', Peter Holman, Journal for the Society of Musicology in Ireland (2009/10).

'This is the tenth volume in the series of Irish Musical Studies. The eleven essays examine various aspects of music in Ireland in the seventeenth century such as the place of the harp, traditional church music and so on ... Though by specialist for specialists, this does shed light for generalists on seventeenth-century Irish culture, society and politics', Books Ireland (Summer 2009).

'The music history of Ireland is at the one time like a jigsaw with many missing pieces, and a kaleidoscope which fluidly remixes genres and timbres in response to the rotation of the historical prism. [This] terrific volume takes a fresh step in the sorting of the mystery and confusion by locating and placing much desirable detail and, by design and inference, separating out primary hues … editors Barra Boydell and Kerry Houston have synergized the diversity of their specializations to produce not just eleven representative chapters, but a tight, considerate overview which weaves aural and literate, harp and organ, bothán and cathedral, patronage and the patronized into one instructive frieze', Fintan Vallely, Irish Literary Supplement (Spring 2010).