|By Dr. Mimi Colligan
A paper given at The Melbourne Council Chambers of the Williamstown Town Hall for Bloomsday.
(Melbourne Australia, 16 June 1998)
This paper was originally delivered accompanied by songs, which were sung at the points oin the text marked [SONG].
This paper will look at some of the songs mentioned in Ulysses and try and place them in the context of late 19th century popular music. Without doubt Joyce intends the musical references to enhance the novel and act as a kind of romantic counterpoint to his anti-romantic modernism. On the one hand Joyce parodies the musical tastes of the time, but on the other uses the music lovingly. Ulysses is like a CD ROM: click on opera Martha, for example, and you get all sorts of oppositional resonances old Simon Dedalus singing "M'Appari," in the pub, taking the role of a noble love-sick hero about to loose his reason and calling to mind Bloom's own love-sickness. Or on "The Last Rose of Summer," with the words "Go sleep thou with them," as a comment on Bloom's concerns about Molly and Boylan.
One could go mad trying to trace the all the significance of Joyce's musical allusions so I've chosen three songs/ballads/ arias, all with Irish connections: "She is Far from the Land", words by Thomas Moore, music by Frank Lambert; "The Last Rose of Summer'" words by Thomas Moore to a traditional Irish air later incorporated by Flotow into his German opera, Martha; and Wallace's "In Happy Moments Day by Day", from his English opera Maritana. Later [in the Feis Ceoil, staged Bloomsday in Melbourne 1998] you'll hear my colleague Miss Catherine Warwick sing "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls", from Balfe's opera The Bohemian Girl.
Music is on nearly every page of Ulysses, whether as descriptions of people singing or quotations from lyrics in conversation and as part of Bloom's stream of consciousness. These songs usually comment on the action, or Bloom's state of mind.
My first song has lyrics by Thomas Moore who was born in Dublin in 1779. He was a musician as well as a poet and a friend of both Byron and Robert Emmet, the Irish patriot. Moore was writing around the time of 1798 but managed to distance himself from any political activity. Nevertheless his lyric, "She is Far from the Land," for all its sentimentality, pays tribute to Robert Emmet, hanged in 1803, and his sad fiancee Sarah Curran. Moore, it should be remembered, did not write the music for his lyrics but used collections of Irish folk songs and adapted melodies for his lyrics. There are at least two settings of this song: one based on the Irish traditional air, "The Open Door"' chosen by Moore in his Irish Melodies series, and another by the Irish composer Frank Lambert composed in 1897. I've chosen to sing the latter version merely because I learned it at my mother's knee and it would have been a "modern" song in 1904. [SONG]
The Joycean context of this song is Cyclops where the Citizen is musing on Irish nationalism. Moore published the lyric in the 1820s by which time Sarah was dead. She had married a Capt. or Maj. Sturgeon two years after Emmet's death but died of a "broken heart" in 1808.
Another Moore lyric used extensively by Joyce in the novel is "The Last Rose of Summer" . It is still one of the most popular of Moore's Irish songs. The melody is a traditional air, "The Groves of Blarney". In 1847 the German composer Friedrich von Flotow used it in his opera Martha. Joyce uses the tenor aria, "Like a Dream"' or "M'appari" or "Ach, so fromm" in German and "The Last Rose of Summer" as background theme songs in the Sirens chapter of Ulysses. The tenor hero of the opera is Lionel and Joyce/Bloom makes much of the similarity of their lionine names Lionel/leopold etc. Bloom's melancholy outcast state is highlighted in his words "O rose lonely blooming" and in the song, "I'll not leave thee, thou lone one..." etc. The context here is the Sirens section where, in the Ormond bar, Bloom withstands the blandishments of the two barmaids. The sighting of Blazes Boylan at the bar and his leaving for the tryst with Molly, adds to Bloom's musings. The song is discussed in the bar and Bloom quotes it, with variations, to himself. Its melancholy reflects his own sadness and he "so lonely blooming" etc.
The story of the opera follows the 19th century fashion of mistaken identity and having humble characters being found to be of noble birth. For example Arline, "The Bohemian Girl" of Balfe's opera, is found to be the Count's daughter, hence, "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls." Her seemingly gipsy lover, Thaddeus, is found to be a Polish aristocrat. Martha (who is really Lady Harriet Durham, pretending to be a servant) has a suitor, Lionel a farmer. After much confusion, including Lionel nearly losing his reason when rejected by Martha/Harriet (Bloom is feeling rejected by Molly and planning to meet Martha Clifford under the name of Henry Flower), Lionel is found to be the Earl of Derby, and thus can marry the noble Lady Harriet. Although the opera is set in Queen Anne's England, Flotow used anachronistically, "The Last Rose of Summer"' as the central melody and I'd like to sing it for you. [SONG]
My third choice is "In Happy Moments"' from Irish-born William Vincent Wallace's Maritana, first produced in 1845. The allusion is a mere eleven word quotation from this aria: "Whose smile upon each feature plays/With such and such replete." One commentator (Bowen) remarks that the quote is an allusion to Nosey Flynn's tall stories but I read it also as a reference to the plot of the opera. Maritana also has disguise as a central theme and gipsy characters, this time Spanish gipsies. The gipsy girl Maritana, however, is a real gipsy but marries the noble hero Don Cesar De Bazan, having saved his life. The aria "In Happy Moments Day By Day," is sung by the villain, Don Jose, who is acting as pander to the king who has evil designs on the heroine. Don Jose, in turn, has hopes of seducing the queen while the king is otherwise occupied with Maritana. Have we another vague parallel here? Bloom knowing that Boylan is soon to cuckold him is at the same time thinking of his assignation with Martha Clifford when in Lestrogonians he quotes from "In Happy Moments Day." You'll have to use your imagination as I sing this aria as I'm neither a man, nor a villain nor a baritone. [SONG]
As with much of the English and German opera of the 1840s, the melodies in Maritana are sweet and reminiscent of Italian romantic opera by composers such as Bellini and Donizetti. Fashions in musical taste change. During the last 50 years of the 20th century Bellini and Donizetti operas have enjoyed many revivals, for example, Maria Callas in La Sonnambula and Joan Sutherland in Lucia di Lammermoor. Martha and Maritana are now rarely performed.
How did these romantic, often saccharine, melodies referred to by Joyce become popular in Ireland? Firstly, opera was itself a popular form in the 19th century. There was more crossover between "high" art and popular culture. Cultural studies scholar, Lawrence Levine, in his Highbrow/Lowbrow, traces what he calls a sacralisation of opera from about the 1880s, removing it from the popular sphere. Even Mozart's Don Giovanni, of late seen as "high culture", was appreciated by many, both in the theatre or in transcriptions. Mozart himself scored melodies from his operas for small orchestral and wind ensembles so that his music would have an audience outside the aristocratic courts and private theatres.
Although Dublin had been a centre of culture and learning in the 18th century, after the Act of Union in 1801 the city became something of a cultural backwater on the outskirts of empire depending largely on English touring companies for the opera repertoire. From the mid-19th century, these companies performed in Dublin and Cork. At theatres such as the Theatre Royal in Hawkins Street, Dublin, the "lower orders" could afford a space in pit and gallery and enjoyed the performance as much as the toffs in the Boxes, Dress Circle and stalls. An important part of that repertoire from the 1830s was "English" opera: works by Bishop, Benedict, Balfe and Wallace. It is an irony that some of the most popular of these "English" operas were composed by Irish-born musicians or, in the case of Martha, employing Irish melodies.
The Dublin Theatre Royal burned down in 1880 but by the 1890s there was another theatre designated the Theatre Royal. The tours continued. (Dublin still lacks an opera house and the Gaiety Theatre has to suffice). Excerpts from the operas were available on sheet music and could be heard in band arrangements at public pleasure gardens, concerts, and in parlour music. Molly Bloom is described as often singing in concert parties around Ireland. And Joyce shows many such musical events in The Dubliners. In a survey of Dublin theatre advertisements in 1890s' I found many English companies: D'Oyly Carte; the Moody-Manners Co; the Grand English Opera Co and the Carl Rosa Co. As well there were seasons of Opera Recitals. Operas presented included Carmen, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin and yes, Maritana and Martha etc. By 1904 then, opera "tunes" were still part of the popular musical currency that Joyce presents in his novel.
You may be interested to know that there is an Australian connection with Wallace who, as a young man emigrated to Tasmania in the 1835. After three years in the colonies he left from Sydney in 1838 under a cloud of debt and marital desertion. There is a legend that Wallace wrote much of Maritana at the Bush Inn near Hobart, but most musicologists think it unlikely.
While on the subject of Australia, it is worth noting that the musical taste of Sydney and Melbourne in the 19th century can be compared to that of Dublin. As far-flung parts of the Empire these cities enjoyed similar a musical fare. Australia's first serious opera company, (it lasted for 19 years, from 1861 to 1880), was founded by the Irish-born William Saurin Lyster. Lyster's company produced Australia's first Lohengrin, but also popular "English" operas such as Maritana, The Bohemian Girl, Rose of Castile, and The Lily of Killarney and of course the English/German Martha. They were constantly revived for "packed" houses at Melbourne's Theatre Royal, Haymarket Theatre, and the Bourke Street Opera House.
Only a small number of the musical allusions in Ulysses have been surveyed in this paper but I hope the speakers this morning have indicated that there is a rich musical background to be discovered when reading Joyce. When you next visit the novel it is worthwhile to be aware of the similarities and contrasts between the context of the musical allusions and the scenes in the novel.