by Honora Faul, Department of Prints & Drawings
Café Joly here at the Library is currently showcasing a selection of images from our NLI music collections. Some depict early sheet music dating from the late 18th century, such as John Field’s rondo on the air Go to the Devil and shake yourself. Another sheet music image we chose to highlight is the popular Moore’s Melody, The Last Rose of Summer – a portrait of Moore himself is included too. We also selected some beautiful lithographic covers from pieces such as The Fireman’s Polka composed by Charles S. MacDona and The Green Isle Quadrilles composed by Paul Windus, with its lovely shamrock border. It is the Happy Summer Time is part of a superb album of music we have by Waterford-born composer, William Vincent Wallace.
One of the most intriguing images is surely the lithographic cover of The Matrimonial Galop composed by A. Benedict which light-heartedly depicts the various stages of courtship and marriage, beginning with admiration, flirtation and declaration before moving on to acceptation, preparation, alteration until finally descending into irritation, altercation, desperation and separation!
The ten images we chose aim to reflect the diverse range of material that we have here at the NLI. At the heart of our music collection, comprising both printed and manuscript music, is the Joly Collection made up of over 6,000 items of printed music from the Jaspar Joly Donation, and our Additional Music Collection of over 13,000 items. Both of these collections are particularly rich in printed music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and include examples of both folk and “classical” or art music, composed or published in Ireland, some items of which are unique to us.
Music manuscripts or archival collections relating to composers, performers, and music organisations, are held in our Manuscripts Department, at 2-3 Kildare Street. Manuscript collections include the Charles Acton Archive, and manuscripts relating to Michael Balfe, Thomas Moore, Michele Esposito, and the Dublin-born composer, Charles Villiers Stanford. Other collections include the records of music organisations such as the Music Association of Ireland and the Feis Ceoil Association.
In fact, we included a Feis Ceoil programme dating from 1901 in our Café Joly display. This early programme has the familiar logo of the Feis Ceoil, but includes advertisements for Anne Lynch & Co’s “Unrivalled Teas” and Lawson-Powell, 3 Chatham St, “The best known and most largely patronised house in the fish, game and poultry trade in Dublin”, rejoicing in the glorious Telegraphic Address of “Ice Dublin”.
We have a collection of over 3,000 ballad sheets as well as song books. A significant collection is the PJ McCall collection of Irish Country Songs & Street Ballads collected by Patrick Joseph McCall (1861-1919), songwriter and poet. McCall wrote one of the best-known and most enduring Irish ballads Boolavogue, commemorating the 1798 Rebellion in Wexford, and we’ve included an image of a music score for Boolavogue published by Walton’s in our display.
Currently our online catalogue lists roughly 4,500 music items, and approximately 19,000 items from the Joly and Additional Music collections are also recorded in a separate card catalogue, which can be consulted in our Main Reading Room. However a project is currently underway to convert these cards so that they will be searchable online by the end of 2011.
Something else in the music arena that you mightn’t have heard about yet is the National Archive of Irish Composers. Launched in November 2010, this website holds high quality digital copies of historic sheet music by Irish composers held here in the National Library’s collections. The site’s searchable database makes this music freely available on the web for study and research. NAIC currently holds over fifty pieces of historic piano music, along with complementary audio and video files.
We are also delighted to be a member of Music PAL, a scheme which makes music resources in a broad range of libraries throughout Ireland easily accessible to all. If you are interested in acquiring a Music Pal Access Card or if you’d like to find out more about our music collections, please contact Honora Faul at tel. (01) 603 0225 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, call in to Café Joly and have a look at these beautiful images for yourself, but if you’re contemplating marriage any time in the near future, perhaps you should avoid The Matrimonial Galop…