Anglo-Irish Music: 1750-1800 (3)

William H. Grattan Flood
Chapter XXVI (continued) | Start of chapter

Another eminent musician, Thomas Pinto, sought a friendly home in Dublin in 1773, and was leader of the band at Crow-street from 1774 to 1779. At Smock-alley, on November 26th, 1772, a comic opera, The Milesian, composed by an Irishman, John M'Dermot, was produced.

The veteran Irish violinist, Samuel Lee, who had an extensive music publishing business at No. 2, Dame-street, and a coffee house in Essex-street, died "at his house in Dame-street," on February 21st, 1776, described in Walker's Magazine as "a great Professor in Musick."

Surely, Dublin could boast of its musical celebrity in 1774. At a typical concert given by amateurs, the orchestra included:—Violins—Count M'Carthy, Right Hon. Sackville Hamilton, Very Rev. Dean Bayly, Deans Burke and Hamilton, Surgeon Neale, E. B. Swan, Mr. Conner, and Dr. Hutchinson; bassoons—W. Deane, Colonel Lee Carey; 'cellos—The Earl of Bellamont, Sir John Dillon; flutes—Lord Lucan, Captain Reid, Rev. J. Johnson; harpsichord—Right Hon. W. Brownlow, Lady Freke, Miss Cavendish, Dr. Quin, and Miss Nicholl. Among the vocalists were Lady Russell, Mrs. Monck, Miss O'Hara, Miss Stewart, Miss Plunket, etc.

Charles Clagget was a most remarkable Irish musician of this period, being particularly famed as an accompanist on the violin, and as an ingenious inventor. A good memoir of him will be found in Grove's Dictionary, to which the reader is referred. Sampson Carter, Mus. Doc., and his younger brother, Thomas Carter (the composer of "O Nancy wilt Thou go with Me"), are also treated of in Grove. Richard Woodward, Mus. Doc., Organist of Christ Church Cathedral, died November 22nd, 1777, aged thirty-four. He was the son of Richard Woodward, Vicar Choral of St. Patrick's Cathedral, and was born in Dublin in 1744. His well-known canon, "Let the words of my mouth"—awarded the gold medal of the Glee and Catch Club, in 1764 [13]—is inscribed on his monument in Christ Church Cathedral. He also wrote much sacred music, including a service in B flat and seven anthems, and published a folio volume of cathedral music, dedicated to Archbishop Smyth, which is marked Op. 3, and was printed by Peter Welcker, of London, in 1771.

Among the theoretical works on music issued in Dublin, a volume of one hundred and forty pages of letterpress, with fifty-one pages of musical illustrations, may be cited. This work is entitled, Two Essays on the Theory and Practice of Music. . . . by the Rev. John Trydell, and was printed for the author by Boulter Grierson, King's Printer, at Dublin, in 1766. It contains "the rules of harmony, composition, and thorough bass, as also a new and short method of attaining to sing by note.' Dublin printing and bookbinding was unsurpassed at this period, as is admitted by Horace Walpole.[14] A rare volume, entitled The Gentleman's Catch Book, was edited and published by Henry Mountain, a distinguished Dublin violinist, in 1778, the dedication being to "the Hibernian Catch Club." Mountain published a good deal of music from No. 20, Whitefriar-street, after which he removed to 44, Grafton-street.

We find an Irish clergyman, Rev. Michael Sandys, M.A., as Organist of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, from 1769 to 1773. He was appointed Vicar Choral of St. Patrick's in 1772, and resigned the organ appointment the year following, becoming Minor Canon and Dean's Vicar in 1778. His successor was Dr. Samuel Murphy, who, as a boy, had sung at the original performance of Handel's Messiah. Dr. Murphy was a brilliant organist, and also a distinguished composer. In 1777, on the death of Dr. Woodward, he was appointed to Christ Church Cathedral, and was also Master of the Choristers of both cathedrals. He died at Carrickmines, near Dublin, on November 25th, 1780.

On January 27th, 1777, the Fishamble-street Music Hall was opened as a theatre by Vandermere and Waddy, but the venture was short-lived. Thus, Dublin had at this date four theatres—Smock-alley, Crow-street, Capel-street, and Fishamble-street. The glories of the music hall where Handel performed disappeared after the death, in 1769, of Mr. Neale. Neale's son, Surgeon John Neale, of Mary-street, was a marvellous amateur violinist, and was commanded by King George III. to play at a State concert in 1787.

Garret Wesley, first Earl of Mornington, Mus. Doc., died at Kensington on May 22nd, 1781. His most famous son, the Duke of Wellington, was born in Mornington House, Merrion-square, Dublin, on April 29th, 1769.[15] Two years later Lord Mornington built a new house in Merrion-st, which he renamed after himself, and where he resided until 1777. Though he resigned his Professorship of Music at Trinity College in 1774, he published his best works after that date, and gained prizes from the Catch Club in 1776 and 1777. In 1779 the Catch Club awarded him the prize medal for his glee, "Here in cool grot," which was published by Anne Lee, of Dublin, in 1780. He also composed much sacred music, including his well-known Chant in E flat, the charm of which is almost destroyed in the version in general use—differing materially from the form as traditionally sung in the Dublin cathedrals. Lady Mornington survived till September 10, 1831. A fine edition of Lord Mornington's Glees and Madrigals was edited by Sir Henry Bishop in 1846.

Michael Kelly in his Reminiscences tells us of the great taste for music in Dublin during the years 1775-1780. Kelly himself had commenced the pianoforte with Mr. Murland, and finished with Dr. Cogan, a distinguished Cork musician who was Organist of St. Patrick's Cathedral from 1780 to 1806. Murland had a pianoforte factory some years later, and made a square instrument for Tom Moore. It is mahogany inlaid, dated 1808, and is now in the National Museum.[16] An early upright harpsichord, of about the year 1774, made by Rother, Dublin, is also in the Dublin Museum.

Kelly tells us that Dr. Cogan's execution on the pianoforte was astonishing, and that "his compositions possess great merit."[17] In 1778, when Michael Arne was in Dublin, he was possessed of a desire to study alchemy, and took a house at Richmond, near Clontarf. The result was disastrous, and when he was confined for a time in the Marshalsea, Kelly's father sent him a loan of a pianoforte, in return for which kindness Arne gave lessons to Michael Kelly. Towards the close of April, 1779, Ryder, of Crow-street Theatre, re-engaged Arne and his wife for a revival of Cymon, for three nights, with the youthful Kelly in the caste. This proved successful, and, on the fourth night of the engagement, Lionel and Clarissa was produced for Kelly's benefit, Pinto being leader of the band, and Bartlett Cooke as first oboe. Subsequently, on May 1st, 1786, Kelly created the parts of Basilio and Don Curzio in Mozart's Figaro, at Vienna.

The era of the Volunteers, 1774-1784, was marked by band music, and almost every corps had a wind band. One of the favourite tunes was "The Volunteers' March," by Elford, dedicated to Lord Charlemont. Another Irish march was annexed by the Scotch and utilised for "Whistle o'er the lave o't." A third, popular in Munster, was "The Shamrock Cockade," set to the Irish air of "Ally Croker." After the rejection of Flood's Reform Bill in 1784, the Volunteers collapsed, and the bands dissolved.


[13] This was the second Gold Medal awarded by the Hibernian Catch Club.

[14] Walpole to Montague, dated "Arlington-street, December 30th, 1761."

[15] From the Baptismal Register in St. Peter's, Dublin, it appears that Arthur Wesley was baptized in that church on Sunday, April 30, 1798. The Mornington family lived temporarily in Antrim House, Merrion-square, in 1769.

[16] As early as 1772, Ferdinand Weber, of Marlborough-street, commenced making square pianofortes. A beautiful specimen, dated 1774, was exhibited at the Cork Exhibition in 1902. It was purchased by John Philpot Curran for his daughter Sarah, the fiancée of Robert Emmet. Strangely enough, it was described as "a spinet or harpsichord," though, undoubtedly (as the late Mr. Hipkins informed me), it is an early square pianoforte.

[17] Cogan published various anthems. In 1788 appeared six sonatas for pianoforte and violin (Op. 2), followed by harpsichord lessons and songs, and in 1792 he printed his concerto in E flat.—(British Musical Biography.)