Sources and Style in Moore's Irish Melodies

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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

London and New York: Routledge, 2017.


isbn:978-1-409-40561-0 (hbk)

978-1-1315-44300-3 (ebk)

This file including the introductory chapter is made available with the kind permission of the publisher


Once regarded as Ireland’s national bard, Thomas Moore's lasting reputation rests on the ten immensely popular collections of drawing-room songs known as the Irish Melodies, published between 1808 and 1834. Moore drew on anthologies of ancient music, breathing new life into the airs and bringing them before a global audience for the very first time. Recognizing their symbolic significance as well as the unique beauty of the airs, these qualities were interwoven into the verses to provide potent political commentary along with a new cultural perspective. At home and abroad, Moore’s Irish Melodies created a realm of influence that continued to define Irish culture for many decades to come.

Notwithstanding the far-reaching appeal and success of the collections, Moore has only recently begun to receive serious attention from scholars. Una Hunt provides the first detailed study of the Irish Melodies from a combined musical and literary standpoint by drawing on a practical understanding and an unrivalled performance experience of the songs. This discourse is complemented by the first complete audio edition – My Gentle Harp, The Complete Collection (Dublin: TMF 2008, 101-106), recorded and produced by Hunt in 2008. The initial two chapters contextualize Moore and his songs through a detailed examination of their sources and style while the following chapters concentrate on the collaborative work provided by the two composers, Sir John Stevenson and Henry Rowley Bishop. Chapters 5 and 6 reappraise musical sources and Moore’s adaptation of these, supported and illustrated by the Table of Sources in the Appendix.



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