Author: eaberndtmorris (page 1 of 6)

Happy 200th Birthday, Pauline Viardot!

In celebration of Pauline Viardot’s 200th birthday on July 18th, we are sharing three music manuscripts held in Harvard’s collection. The music, L’hirondelle et le prisonnier (The Swallow and the Prisoner), was first published in 1841 in Paris by Bureaux de La France musicale, as advertised in the contents pages from the January 3rd issue of this publication. The text was adapted from the poem by Hector-Grégoire de Saint-Maur (first published anonymously in the Gazette de Sainte-Pélagie in 1834).

Newspaper clipping from Bureaux de La France musicale stating the publication of L’Hirondelle et le prisonnier by Pauline Viardot Garcia.

Paris: Bureaux de La France musicale, 3 January 1841.

Before jumping into the manuscript, let’s take a look at an early publication of this work digitized by Hathi Trust Digital Library.

First page of L’Hirondelle et le prisonnier

First page of L’Hirondelle et le prisonnier, published by Bureaux de La France musicale.

Our first example is a manuscript held in the Pauline Viardot-Garcia papers held at the Houghton Library, and is contained in a notebook owned by Pauline, along with 22 other songs.

Oblong manuscript of song for voice and piano from notebook. One stave of the music has been slightly extended in order to finish a phrase on the same line.

L’hirondelle et le prisonnier. Pauline Viardot-Garcia papers, MS Mus 232 (60) no. 10. Houghton Library, Harvard University.

The next example is a manuscript also in the Houghton Library as part of the Pauline Viardot-García Additional Papers. This edition is part of a Collection of Songs, Autograph Manuscripts and Manuscript Scores containing incipits of works.

Oblong music manuscript, the first page from Collection of Songs for voice and piano.

Pauline Viardot-García additional papers, MS Mus 264 (97). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Our final manuscript is signed and dated Paris, March 18, 1842. It is part of a collection of autographs compiled by Jenny Vény, daughter of oboist Louis-Auguste Vény. The album contains 75 autographs and 120 leaves of music.

In March of 1842, Pauline was three months shy of her 21st birthday. She married Louis Viardot two years prior, and made friendships with Fredrick Chopin and author George Sands, but had not yet met her lifelong friend Ivan Turgenev.  According to The Life and Work of Pauline Viardot Garcia, in March of 1842 the Viardots were visiting family (her sister’s widow) in Brussels at Ixelles to show off their new baby, returning to Paris in April.

A page from an autograph album manuscript with two lines of music for voide and piano and the signature of Pauline Viardot.

Autograph Album: Manuscript, 1841-1880. MS Mus 103. Houghton Library, Harvard University.

For more information on this work, see page 5-6 of Sarah Christine Ballman’s 2021 doctoral dissertation, A Catalog of Mélodies Composed by Pauline Viardot.

Puirt-à-Beul – Mouth-tunes: or Songs for Dancing

title page from songbook with title and author

Title page from Puirt-á-Beul-Mouth-Tunes.

Ninety years ago, in 1931, Puirt-a-beul – Mouth-tunes, or Songs for Dancing as Practised From A Remote Antiquity by the Highlanders of Scotland was reprinted with “few minor corrections” from its 1901 first printing. The song book was “collected and arranged” by Keith Norman MacDonald, a medical doctor in Scotland with an interest in Highland music. MacDonald is chiefly remembered for three works: The Gesto Collection of Highland Music (1895); The MacDonald Bards from Mediaeval Times (1900) and Puirt-a-Beul – Mouth-tunes: or Songs for Dancing as Practised from a Remote Antiquity by the Highlanders of Scotland (1901).

An advertisement for the puirt-à-beul collection states that the volume includes, “120 Tunes, and in many cases several sets of words are given all sung to the same tune.” Puirt-á-beul is the Scottish Gaelic for “tunes from a mouth.” Although often used for dancing without instruments, contemporary performance often includes instrumental accompaniment.

Advertisement for songbook, reads These ancient dancing songs, relics of a bygone age, have been floating about the Highlands of Scotland for many centuries, and were collected by Dr. Macdonald in a fragmentary form just as they were on the eve of dying out entirely.

Advertisement for Puirt-á-Beul-Mouth-Tunes.

One example of puirt-à-beul music is the tune Ruidhle Mo Neighean Dhonn, or The Brown Haired Lass/Maid. The tune and lyrics from MacDonald’s book is provided and can be followed with this 1952 reel-to-reel recording from the digital sound recording archive Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches, a site that includes oral recordings made in Scotland and further afield, from the 1930s onward.

notation and lyrics to Ruidhle Mo Nighean Dhonn

Reel notation and lyrics to Ruidhle Mo Nighean Dhonn.

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