Skip to main content

Sequels of Colonialism: Edward Bunting's Ancient Irish Music

Date created
Author: Davis, Leith
In 1792, Doctor James MacDonnell advertised a competition designed to revive interest in the ancient harping tradition of Ireland.  His advertisement for the event, which was to be held July 11-13 in Belfast, was published in almost all the Irish newspapers and suggests an intimate relationship between harp music and national identity: "when it is considered how intimately the spirit  and character of a people are connected with their national poetry  and music, it is presumed that the Irish patriot and politician will not deam it an object unworthy of his patronage and protection" (Ancient Music [1840] 63).  The festival was organized by MacDonnell, Robert Bradshaw, Henry Joy, and Thomas Russell, and it attracted ten harpers.  MacDonnell employed a young local organist, nineteen year-old Edward Bunting, to copy down the compositions of the harpers engaged in the competition.  Working from his manuscript notes, and from material gathered during his travels around Ireland years after the festival, Bunting went on to publish three successive collections of Irish tunes arranged for piano-forte in 1796, 1809 and 1840. 
Scholarly level
Peer reviewed?
Member of collection

Views & downloads - as of June 2023

Views: 0
Downloads: 0