Miss Hamilton

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From the “Echoes of Erin 2008” Comhaltas Tour CD, the Comhaltas Tour Ensemble plays the harp piece, “Miss Hamilton”.

Miss Hamilton is included in the Bunting Collection having been notated by Bunting from the from harper Patrick Linden in 1802, although the scholar Dónal O Súilleabháin established that the original Bunting manuscript gave Hugh Higgins as the source of the tune. The peice was composed by harper Cornelius Lyons in 1706.

Edward Bunting has started his work as a ‘musical scribe’ during the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792 . This festival, a historically and musically significant event, was organised by a group of Belfast people motivated to preserve the already endangered harp and harp music tradition. Edward Bunting, a nineteen year old church organist, was employed to notate the music played by ten Irish harpers and one Welsh harper at the Belfast Assembly Rooms Belfast Exchange. The Irish language scholar engaged to transcribe the words of the songs failed to attend. These harpers were required to play Irish music only. Bunting’s first collection of material sourced at the festival, A General Collection of the Ancient Irish Music (1796) contained informative notes as well as music. A second volume containing English-language lyrics was published in 1809 followed by Bunting’s third and final collection in 1840, The Ancient Music of Ireland, the latter containing airs from other collectors.

Although originally from the Barony of Clanmaurice in North Kerry the harper Cronelius Lyons became the harper to the Earl of Antrim, a position he held at the time he composed ‘Miss Hamilton’ Bunting made the following comment on this piece Miss Hamilton in the introduction to his 1840 publication The Ancient Music of Ireland.

(Miss Hamilton)….Remarkable as being the last composition of the last of the old race of Irish harpers. It is a piece of Lyons’s, but to what Miss Hamilton it is addressed the Editor is not aware , though the probability is that she is one of the Killeagh family. None of the successors of Lyons attempted to compose an air: their utmost effort was a meagre attempt at arrangement.

12 Oct, 2008
Miss Hamilton
Performers/Subjects Instruments
Cathy Potter Harp
Comhaltas Tour Ensemble

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Keywords for This Entry

Concert Tour, Harp, Air