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Beethoven’s Irish Songs Revisited

Texts Chosen by Tomás Ó Súilleabháin Edited by Margaret O’Sullivan Farrell


Tomás Ó Súilleabháin and Margaret O'Sullivan Farrell

Beethoven’s seventy-two settings of traditional Irish airs constitute his most prolific output in any genre. The arrangements were commissioned in the early nineteenth century by the Scottish editor and publisher, George Thomson, who sent airs, but no texts, to Beethoven. Poetry, mostly by less well-known poets, was attached to the finished settings before publication by Thomson, and perhaps therein lies the reason why the songs never achieved the popularity which they deserve: many of the poems have been judged to be of inferior quality. In this edition, the first in which all Beethoven’s Irish folksong settings are published together, the late baritone, broadcaster and musicologist, Tomás Ó Súilleabháin, selected texts, mostly by Burns and Moore, which he felt were more appropriate to the airs and to Beethoven’s settings.

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