This book is the first ever to survey the development of musical thought in modern Irish cultural history. Its purpose is to register the function of music as a dynamic agent in the history of Irish ideas in the period 1770-1970. Although Ireland’s verbally-dominated culture has depended on music throughout its evolution, the presence of music has been hitherto scarcely recognized. The Keeper’s Recital attempts to address this much neglected area by examining the role of music in Ireland by means of three prevailing themes: the integrity of sectarian culture, the political expression of cultural autonomy, and the symbolic force of Celticism.
The book traces the development of music in Ireland from the eighteenth-century to the death of Sean O’Riada, and identifies the function and status of music in the ideologies of nationalism, colonialism and revival which it helped to foster. Although The Keeper’s Recital is primarily concerned with such figures as Turlough Carolan, Edward Bunting, Thomas Moore, Thomas Davis, George Petrie, Douglas Hyde, Henrich Bewerunge, Charles Villiers Stanford, Arnold Bax and Sean O’Riada, its scrutiny of the condition of music in Irish cultural history notably embraces Irish political and literary thought throughout the period 1770-1970. Although not offered as a history of music in Ireland, The Keeper’s Recital engages with the principal themes of that history in order to identify and distinguish between the symbolic power of Irish music (particularly in terms of its preservation), and its failure to generate a durable aesthetic of comparable significance to that which infused the Literary Revival.
“_The Keeper’s Recital_ has enhanced the level of debate about the role of music in Irish cultural history. In highlighting its historical marginalization, its author has forced us to confront (above all other considerations) the abject failure of the Irish educational system to raise the quality of music education in Ireland, especially in the period from 1920-1970.” — Journal of Interdisciplinary History