Michael Dervan (Ed.): The Invisible Art: A Century of Music in Ireland 1916-2016

Dublin: New Island Books

Few publications on contemporary/classical music reach out to the general public or are reviewed when they do so. In this feature for Enclave, it seemed appropriate to look at a recent and attractive book that seeks to increase interest in the sector. It was published in conjunction with the Composing the Island festival in 2016, a major series of concerts (variously involving RTÉ, the NCH and Bórd na Móna) that looked back at a century of music.1 There is no reason to imagine that 1916 had a particular significance in the history of classical music in Ireland but there was every reason for the editor, Irish Times music critic Michael Dervan, not to look the hundred-year-old gift-horse in the mouth. For those outside the field, the book should be, not just a useful source of information, but an opportunity to see how this sector of the music world sees and presents itself.2 BÓS


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Jennifer Walshe: Grúpat (2009). Multi-media installation. Detail: image by Bulletin M. Courtesy of the artist.
Jennifer Walshe: Grúpat (2009). Multi-media installation. Detail: image by Bulletin M. Courtesy of the artist.

If, for the moment at least, we accept what is asserted by the book’s title, the primary function of The Invisible Art: A Century of Music in Ireland 1916-2016 must be to make the invisible visible, to draw our attention to a neglected sector in Irish cultural life – in effect, to advertise the qualities and pleasures of the country’s classical music.3

It is the promotional function of the book that explains its size and shape, the care lavished on its design (recurrent decorative motifs; use of space; font size; colour), and the notable richness of the illustrations.4 Even the casual browser would want to linger over the wonderful selection of programme notes, book covers, cartoons, portraits, photographs, advertisements and scores. From William Orpen’s portrait of a stately Charles Villiers Stanford a few years before his death (in 1924), we can flick to Sarah Cecilia Harrison’s almost contemporary portrait of Michele Esposito in relaxed physical pose but with restlessness in his eyes. Stanford had left Ireland as a young man in the 1870s to pursue a musical career in England; Esposito, an Italian, would come to Ireland about a decade later and become an industrious and influential figure in musical Dublin, but would return to Italy in the late 1920s.

Frederick May: String Quartet in c minor (1936). Title page of score, with reproduction of ‘Image Forming on Red Ground’ by Louis Le Brocquy. Dublin: Woodtown Music Publications, 1976.
Frederick May: String Quartet in c minor (1936). Title page of score, with reproduction of ‘Image Forming on Red Ground’ by Louis Le
Brocquy. Dublin: Woodtown Music Publications, 1976.

As his son would to an even greater extent, the German Aloys Fleischmann played an Esposito-like role in Cork. A photograph taken by his wife Tilly in 1936 captures the relaxed togetherness of musical friends: Aloys; the composer of light music Herbert Hughes and his wife; Arnold Bax, a prominent English composer who maintained strong connections with Ireland after a youthful period of near-immersion. This contrasts nicely with another photo from 1938 where the four composers Tilly has lined up – E.J. Moeran (an English composer of part-Irish heritage who became even more settled in Ireland than Bax); the young Irish composer Frederick May (who, tragically, would not sustain his early promise); Elizabeth Maconchy, who would be at the centre of English musical life for decades; and the gifted but self-effacing Ina Boyle – seem to have had togetherness thrust upon them.


Cover of The Invisible Art. Stillorgan: New Island, 2016.
Cover of The Invisible Art. Stillorgan: New Island, 2016.

The stories and networks behind the figures in these portraits and photographs would alone do much to illuminate the nature of the classical music world in Ireland (and to quite an extent in Britain) in the first half of the twentieth century. Lives and careers across the two islands were interwoven in the 1920s and ’30s – as they had been in the 1880s, the 1830s, the 1780s… The patriotic Irish unionist Stanford had travelled not into exile but to England as a young man; it was there, he had quite reasonably calculated (as had numerous dramatic, literary and musical talents over the previous century and more), that his talents might develop. He achieved eminence as composer and teacher and avoided the atrophy of talent he had seen in his senior, Robert Prescott Stewart. The coming to Ireland of Fleischmann and Esposito followed another long established British/Irish pattern of importing foreign musical talent and teachers, and the consolidation of the Catholic middle-class and the need to provide music in Catholic churches in Ireland in the later nineteenth century led to increased demand.5 Is there much difference between an Irish urban middle-class artist or composer discovering the landscape and inhabitants of the impoverished west of Ireland and Arnold Bax travelling to Ireland (then part of the United Kingdom of course) from England? And apart from his being now middle-aged and less impetuous, is Bax’s experience of Ireland in the 1930s radically changed by the fact that he is visiting an independent state (though he had of course been deeply affected by the execution of Patrick Pearse)? Is Moeran’s deep engagement with folksong to be described as pastoral where Norfolk is concerned, but exotic in the case of Wicklow or Kerry? It almost goes without saying that, with whatever adjustment for passport identity, the un-industrialised, under-populated and strongly rural society of the Free State would attract English romantic-pastoralists, while an English composer like Vaughan Williams could serve as a musical model for Irish composers, working in a conservative idiom that reflected Irish classical music’s long-standing position as a satellite of the metropolis.6

Cover of Chieftains 4. Cover art by Edward Delaney. Dublin: Claddagh Records, 1973.
Cover of Chieftains 4. Cover art by Edward Delaney. Dublin: Claddagh Records, 1973.

The vision of an Irish music for the urban middleclasses that Patrick Pearse articulated in the 1900s – one that, like the standardised Irish and new litereary idiom he also worked for, would gradually move from its peasant roots towards autonomy – would have cohabited comfortably with English pastoralism, once the small matter of allowing Irish people to have the freedom they desired had been taken care of. This is perhaps to underline the point that starting the clock at 1916 is an arbitrary choice where classical music is concerned, and that different sectors of national life need not follow the same clock and calendar. Provided an excessive focus on passport and state-centred identity is avoided, however, there is no reason not to begin loosely with that date.

Let us turn to the written content of The Invisible Art. It offers a number of features on individual composers. As befits the genre – some first appeared as newspaper articles – these tend to be entirely positive towards their subjects. Ita Beausang provides a very sympathetic profile of Ina Boyle, whose work in recent years has been emerging from obscurity. Given the encouragement she received from Vaughan Williams in England and from her peers in Ireland, her obscurity can, initially at least, be ascribed more to family circumstance and individual character than to institutionalised prejudice. Michael Murphy is warmly sympathetic in introducing two of the elder statesmen of Irish composition, John Kinsella and Seóirse Bodley. Younger composers are presented in the same manner: the lively Andrew Hamilton by Dervan; the more subdued Ann Cleare by a very enthusiastic Carol McGonnell, herself a musician of quality. Uniquely, the shapeshifting post-modernist Jennifer Walshe gets to speak for herselves, without an interlocutor and – not surprisingly given her visual/theatrical qualities – attracts more than her share of photographic attention. These composer profiles reveal the diversity within the field and may well arouse curiosity about the music.

Endorsements are an integral part of product promotion. It is no surprise that Michael Dervan invited a number of high-profile outsiders to vouch for the quality of the contemporary Irish product. Thus, the pianist Joanna MacGregor tells of her first encounter with the young Donnacha Dennehy and the process of working on pAt (2001), the piece he subsequently wrote for her. The fearless American soprano Barbara Hannigan enthuses about the pleasure and challenge of working with Gerald Barry. (A photograph attests to their relaxed understanding.) David Harrington of the (still-supercool?) Kronos Quartet remembers with gratitude the part played by Kevin Volans in establishing their reputation. The New York radio broadcaster John Schaefer goes ‘[i]n Search of the Irish Philip Glass or Meredith Monk’ – America coming to Ireland to find the America in Ireland? Raymond Deane has referred to ‘ turning Dublin into a corner of downtown New York.’7

We have strayed into matters of critical culture. One would not expect The Invisible Art to lash the internal weaknesses of the sector. What we could look to find, however, is a hint of self-questioning, some awareness of how exactly the history of classical music in Ireland flows with or against other currents in Irish history – and perhaps a fresh idea or two here, a new spin on an old idea there. Even better would be evidence that those who neglect this sector are depriving themselves of intellectual as well as musical stimulation. For such stimulation, it is to the editor’s introduction, to the survey chapters and to the article on the historiography of the period that we should look – though of course composers too have their own insights to offer.

The writers of survey chapters appear to have been offered some latitude as to the approach adopted. Those who focus almost entirely on musical works, or on the seedbed from which these grew, emerge with the greatest credit. The 1916-1922 period is assigned to Joseph Ryan. As 1916 was of no particular significance for classical music, and as little could reasonably be expected to happen while large-scale officially-blessed slaughter proceeded in Europe, while Britain resisted the Irish demand for a separate state, and while the Free State took its first tottering steps away from civil war, Ryan can do little at first but ramble disapprovingly back and forth along the Irish musical front, then go on to camp in earlier decades, with some sorties into the Free State years. It is worth mentioning that this chapter is less sententious in tone, and somewhat less dismissive of nationalist cultural endeavour, than Ryan’s earlier writings on related subjects.

The Free State years are covered by Axel Klein, an admirable chronicler and unearther of Irish music and musicians. He is right to sense that something broader than a chronicle of works is needed in order to understand the music culture of the Free State. (No serious questions are asked in this volume regarding classical music in Northern Ireland.) Unfortunately, his command of sociocultural and political history is limited.8 Though, as always, he can summon up littleknown information, Klein’s explanatory powers are curbed by his general acceptance of the historically blinkered current academic orthodoxy in matters of Irish classical music history. As it happens, its foundational document (a 1990 doctorate) was composed by the above-mentioned Joseph Ryan. This was heavily drawn on for Harry White’s later and more directly influential volume, the Keeper’s Recital (1998), and has been variously elaborated on, repeated, referenced, enshrined and echoed since then. A brief summary of this orthodoxy – here, for convenience, referred to as Ryan/White – may be useful to those unfamiliar with the area, as it suffuses certain contributions to the volume and chimes with the editor’s perspective.

The absence of an infrastructure for classical music in modern Ireland; Ireland’s failure to produce composers of world stature or renown; the low presence of classical music in Irish critical discourse; and the low presence of classical music in the symbolic projection of the state and of Irish culture, at home and abroad: according to Ryan/White, these phenomena can be explained by the fact that the rise of Irish nationalism, cultural and political, polarised classical music between narrow political demands (music as reinforcement or symbol of the national cause) and a cosmopolitan European cultural form that in Ireland was damaged by its introduction through, and association with, Ascendancy and British power. The Ryan/White theory has two major attractions: it encapsulates centuries of music history in a simple binary formula, and it puts an intellectual gloss on what is a comforting victim narrative. Its credibility is enhanced by the fact that its chief exponent, Professor Harry White, has an outstanding record of achievement: founding Ireland’s first musicological society; initiating the first series of musicological books in Ireland; proposing, driving for and (with Barra Boydell and others) eventually realising the milestone publication of the Encyclopedia of Music in Ireland (EMIR); and writing numerous books and articles as well as giving Irish musicology an international profile.

This constructive and infrastructural achievement is accompanied in the field of music scholarship, unfortunately, by a number of historical and conceptual flaws. Put bluntly, these flaws include: a reductive and under-contextualised understanding of the phenomena gathered under the label of Irish nationalism; a practice of history that entails attaching examples to preconceived notions rather than a constant dialectic between paradigms and available knowledge; misinterpretation of key figures (too often on the basis of a handful of – again – decontextualised quotations); lack of acknowledgement of Anglophone Ireland’s satellite status in relation to the metropolis during the centuries after conquest; assumption of the existence of a creative/critical culture that was suffocated by Irish nationalism (without demonstration of same); almost no consideration of the social and economic factors that significantly shape cultural opportunity and activity; lack of reflection on the musical life that (regardless of ideology) town- and city-dwellers had in common (in this, we might include working-class interest in opera); lack of consideration of anything other than ideological difference when seeking to explain the divergence between musical developments in Britain and Ireland in the later nineteenth century; the omission from the discussion of the effect of the long slump in English classical music after Purcell on music in Ireland; little thought on the factors underlying the struggle to emerge from that slump (the English Musical Renaissance); a real blindness to nationalist interest in classical music; an underestimation of musical initiative in the Revival period; and a failure to think about classical music and the projection of power in post-Union Ireland. A detailed exposition of these many issues (characteristic of a school of thought and not merely of an individual) cannot be offered here, but some will be evoked in passing as we proceed. Some of them were raised by me in 1999 in the journal Graph (3.3), and a few years later by Patrick Zuk, Benjamin Dwyer and myself in the Journal of Music in Ireland.

We can now return to the survey chapters of The Invisible Art. Kevin O’Connell is admirably fair-minded on the composers of the 1950s and 1960s. Though a brief nod to Mark Fitzgerald’s researches on Frederick May might have been in order, O’Connell comments interestingly on May’s ‘sometimes overwhelming’ debt to Vaughan Williams (an example of ‘the dangerous phenomenon of a great composer who is a bad model’) in contrast with his friend Brian Boydell, who managed to steer a more independent course. In the literary and literary-critical worlds (or, where the visual arts are concerned, in events like the IMMA exhibition on Irish modernism some years ago), there has been a tendency to blow any spark of Irish protomodernism into a full burning bush. The sprouting of a cult of May as modernist victim of a backward state has been curtailed by clear-eyed examination of the evidence – which is not at all to diminish May’s best work and critical writing. On Seán Ó Riada as classical composer, O’Connell is entirely unsentimental. (We shall, however, return to one small but significant point of disagreement below.)

Mark Fitzgerald offers a judicious and closely detailed assessment of the composers of the 1970s and 80s, and of such changes as there were in the formation of a supportive infrastructure. The point on which he finishes is thoughtprovoking. He reminds us that in the mid-1980s (for well-intentioned budgetary reasons perhaps) the CMC (Contemporary Music Centre) ceased its advocacy for international music through festivals and composer exchanges in order to concentrate on promoting and supporting Irish composers. An unfortunate side-effect may have been to narrow horizons and to reduce interchange and initiative.

Michael Dungan offers a cheerier survey of the 1990s, focusing on senior figures like Barry and Deane but noting the emergence of younger composers, including voices from Northern Ireland like Deirdre Gribbin and Ian Wilson. Liam Cagney offers a rather similar survey of the post-2000 period, and mentions enough contemporaries to ensure himself safe passage through Dublin. A gently questioning note may hover over, for example, the section on Ergodos (a small school of composers of broadly ECM-ish sensibility and ethos) and what he calls the New Sincerity (a rather soft-eggish term, surely, that invites a bashing from any passing wooden spoon).9 In fairness to Cagney, however, curious readers will have a usable map of the current scene and enough information to guide their sampling of the talents and genres on offer.

How does the activity (and inactivity) described in these survey chapters relate to music life in general and to Irish society? The point of disagreement with Kevin O’Connell mentioned above may be enlightening at this point. A passage on attitudes to Ó Riada the composer in the world of traditional music reads thus:

[…] in an atmosphere where ‘classical music’, tainted with the legacy of west-Britonism, held a questionable place, his very success was suspect, for the better you are at doing something of which people are suspicious, the more suspicious they become.

This is a polarised two-cultures misunderstanding of the period of change across all genres of music that we might call the long 1960s. The reality is more interesting. Even if the attitudes and practices of most non-professional players were little affected by Ó Riada’s innovations, his rise to national prominence as a cultural activist and broadcaster and as a composer across various genres was morale-boosting for the traditional music sector – and for the nationally-minded section of the newly-expanding urban middle class. Ó Riada’s presumed eminence in another sector, along with his capture of public space such as the Gaiety Theatre for concerts by Ceoltóiri Chualann that were almost state occasions, only added to his lustre among those who sought or saw a renewal of traditional music and of Irish-language culture. His classical work was itself little known or heard but, on the basis of the affecting music based on ‘Sliabh na mBan’ that he wrote for the film Mise Éire, one could imagine, as some (including Martin Adams in his contribution to The Invisible Art) do to this day, that his general practice as classical composer attempts to wed the traditional and the classical.

What is important here is not the West-Brit taunt with which, when his pride was hurt, Ó Riada once lashed out at the Irish Times critic Charles Acton – in fact, the highly theatrical Ó Riada had only recently gone through a tweedy fishing-rod-andshotgun country-gent phase himself.10 More important by far than this dispute is the move towards a group- and concert-based, touring-professional model by a sector of traditional music (in other words, its alignment with other forms of popular music internationally) and the boost in selfesteem and international attention that occurred across the genre as a whole. This cultural pattern (part of a societal shift) chimes with Ó Riada’s interest in radio, TV and film, with Claddagh Records’ modernist cover designs, and with the role of a member of Ceoltóirí Chualann, Éamon de Buitléir, in popularising an interest in animal and birdlife (previously, as in Britain, more the domain of the gentry, the leisured classes and rural clergymen) through his bi-lingual TV programme Amuigh Faoin Spéir.

The space for a revitalised traditional music, for showbands, for rock and pop, was opened by a phenomenon noted elsewhere in his chapter by O’Connell: the general fading of the older style of light music. We could stretch that term to include such things as operatic highlights, light opera, popular hits (American and other) sung by opera stars, Brendan O’Dowda’s recordings of Percy French and other parlour music – in other words, a version of the predominant musical culture of both Britain and English-speaking Ireland going back to the nineteenth century. The fading of both light classical music, and the semi-classicised, parlourised version of traditional music that had dominated stage and radio, eroded the musical territory where older forms of popular culture and classical music met. These factors and the simultaneous rise of the folk movement, of international popular culture and of mass media proved more advantageous to traditional music than to classical music.

It does not seem that Michael Dervan had given much thought to such matters or, as a journalist specialising in classical music, had read or remembered the relevant articles in the JMI before planning the survey chapters in The Invisible Art.11 And if he had read Different Voices – Benjamin Dwyer’s 2014 collection of interviews with composers (un-reviewed in the Irish Times, the newspaper which also neglected to include any Irish composition in its 100 epoch-defining art works of the last century) – he certainly had not paid any attention to the author/editor’s 40-page historical introduction. Dervan’s own introduction deplores the failures of independent Ireland in relation to classical music but offers no insight into it; one could be reading a translation into the cultural sphere of one of Stephen Collins’s opinion pieces.12 His belief that Ireland shunned Stanford’s music for political reasons is unfounded. Stanford’s position and reputation in Britain had already (like Parry’s) declined with the rise of Elgar. As the nearentirety of Stanford’s career was lived out in England, there is no particular reason why Ireland should berate itself for following the English example. But Stanford had a continuing low-level presence: for example, an opera of his was staged as part of the Tailteann festival in 1924, his ‘My Love is an Arbutus’ was sung in a pairing with Éamonn Ó Gallchobhair’s ‘Óró Mo Churaichín’ by the soprano Eibhlín Ní Ghiollmáin in a vocal and instrumental concert in the City Hall in Cork in April 1945, and in the lead-up to 1966 he featured alongside Moore and various patriotic ballads in a recording by Our Lady’s Choral Society and the RESO & Sextet 13 One might venture that the Free State rejected Stanford less than Stanford rejected the idea of a non-British Irish state.

Lacking a historical compass, Dervan wanders into autobiographical mode. When well used, this can open pathways to understanding; here, despite some wellapplied local colour, it too easily becomes a recasting of the mode of complaint. Effectively, seeing classical music culture in Ireland as a victim of narrow-minded cultural nationalism, and therefore predisposed to take current academic orthodoxy as truth, Dervan appears not to have engaged in any way with alternative perspectives.

In the search for illumination on the sector as a whole, we are then left with Martin Adams’ chapter on the historiography of classical music in Ireland. This is a useful enough survey in certain regards, a curiously incomplete one in others. Who would dispute that this field lay largely fallow until recently? Who would dispute the surge in publications and organisation that has taken place in the last 25 years? Does this mean that all the big questions have been answered? Adams is theoretically in favour of debate but describes some of what has occurred as ‘lively, sometimes abusive’. At another point he describes some of the objections to White’s ideas – he does not clarify which objections and who proposed them – as ‘built on sandy foundations and superficial argument’ and suggests that this may explain White’s refusal to answer his critics. Prof. White’s choices in this regard are entirely a matter for himself. It is not entirely clear that he has even read the critiques of his work, and it is not at all unusual for academic authors to avoid debate in non-academic outlets. Vigorously expressed criticism of an author (or composer) may indeed be perceived as disrespectful by that individual. But no personal issue or entanglement preceded the first expression of criticism.14

Beyond all personal concerns, the circulation and testing of theories against the available evidence should be the primary concern of intellectuals. It is the absence of debate within this musicological subculture as a whole that is striking. The complete absence of response to the issues raised must be what matters after the best part of twenty years. An intellectual subculture that complains of neglect and that purports to be interested in developing a critical culture is not putting itself in the best position when it resorts to silence or silencing on encountering disagreement 15

In Adams’s survey of the historiography, another omission is inexplicable. The multi-volume Oxford New History of Ireland has had its fair share of criticism over the years, but in one regard – the space it devotes to the history of literature, painting and music – it merits great praise. For the non-specialised reader, Brian Boydell’s two chapters on classical music up to 1850 can be recommended over any of his more specialised books. Similarly, despite some naive formulations, Aloys Fleischmann’s chapter on the period up to 1920 situates music of various kinds – including opera and popular song – in a broad societal context. And for the post-1916 period, how can one ignore Roy Johnston’s chapter on music in Northern Ireland – or indeed Joseph Ryan’s on independent Ireland?

Was Martin Adams unaware of this material? Whatever the cause of the omission, the effect of the removal of this mature growth is to present the dramatic sprouting of the 1990s school of musicology in an even more flattering light. The presence in the Oxford New History of these chapters on music points to the need for Irish musicology to emerge from its compound, to engage in truly comparative history (not merely coded tut-tutting), to engage in dialogue with other musical sectors, to acknowledge the importance of class and location, and to engage with social, political, economic, institutional and cultural history.

As acknowledged in this review, The Invisible Art is in many ways an attractive and useful volume. It would have been of greater value if it had demonstrated the courage and curiosity to be more than a bulletin from within the compound.

Barra Ó Seaghdha has written widely on literature, cultural and intellectual history, and music. His work has appeared in the Dublin Review of Books, the Journal of Music in Ireland, the Journal of Music (http://journalofmusic.com), Irish Left Review, etc. He is the former editor of Graph magazine (1986- 1998). His recently completed PhD looks at the place of classical music in Irish socio-cultural history. The Invisible Art was published by New Island Books in 2016. It is available in a hardback edition (ISBN 9781848405660) for €29.95.


1. See Adrian Smith’s review here: http://www.aicnewmusicjournal.com/articles/what-shouldwe- make-%E2%80%98composing-island%E2%80%99. My review here: http://journalofmusic.com/criticism/century-irishclassics.
2. I should state at this point that my name appears in the book’s acknowledgements. The interaction involved was minor and very late in the book’s production; as will become clear, it does not preclude critical distance.
3. Was it advisable to antagonise other sectors by claiming total ownership of the term ‘music’?
4. Designer Fidelma Slattery and, even more so perhaps, illustrations researcher Caitríona Ní Dhunáin deserve individual mention.
5. Conquest and the sectarian nature of the 18th-century state eliminated the possibility of a continuous ecclesiastical as opposed to a
vernacular Irish-language Catholic music tradition.
6. ‘Romantic pastoralists’: the term is shorthand for a more complex reality; it can be taken to reflect a tendency rather than as a description of any individual career as a whole.
7. The point about Ireland’s growing enslavement to the American model is only a detail in a wideranging and searching article in issue 12 of this magazine (http://enclavereview. org/uneventful-music-ineventful- times/). Something more unpredictably poetic and exuberant seemed in prospect when I interviewed Donnacha Dennehy in 1999 (Graph, 3.3).
8. To take one small example, he and others who believe that World War II was referred to exclusively as the Emergency (presumably, in some act of collective denial) should examine the title of the 1945 volume Ireland’s Stand: Being a Selection of the Speeches of Eamon de Valera During the War (1939- 1945) and then count the number of times de Valera refers to the war as ‘the war’.
9. ECM is a German record label, founded in 1969, famous for its recordings of the classical music of Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt, György Kurtág, etc., alongside jazz luminaries like Keith Jarrett, and crossover projects like Jan Garbarek’s collaboration with the Hilliard Ensemble. Ergodos (as ever, generalisations can be crude, and certain works of Simon O’Connor’s, for example, may fall entirely outside this categorisation) would share with ECM an element of holy minimalism and an aesthetic that extends to all aspects of production, writing and design. Some Ergodos members participated in a celebration of ECM in Cork in 2015.
10. Charles Acton’s lengthy interviews with Irish composers – a delightfully frank one with Archie Potter is a highlight – for Éire /Ireland in the late 1960s and early 70s demand resurrection. I gave copies of several to the CMC some years ago.
11. I have often maintained
(both to Dervan himself and to composer friends) that some of the negativity directed at him as a music critic should be directed at other media outlets that provide little or no coverage of contemporary/classical music.
12. Stephen Collins: former political editor for the Irish Times, Sunday Tribune and Sunday Press.
13. Éamonn Ó Gallchobhair is known more for his cultural attitudes than for his music; his strictures regarding orchestral standards in his concert reviews for Ireland Today show another side of the man.
14. This is certainly true in my own case. Though I had attended contemporary/classical music events for years, and had interviewed Gerald Barry soon after the premiere of The Intelligence Park, I knew almost nobody in the contemporary/ classical music world and had written only about literature and history before tackling music in Graph through the review of The Keeper’s Recital and interviews with Barry Guy and Donnacha Dennehy. The exasperation expressed in an article of mine in the March-April 2007 issue of the JMI was a response to the failure of anybody from within the Ryan/White orthodoxy to respond to any of the critiques I listed. It was because of this that I took the unusual step of expressing concern about how the Encyclopedia (EMIR) would treat important issues in Irish cultural history and non-classical forms of music.
15. A review that incorporates a brief survey of the historiography can be found here: http://www.drb.ie/essays/ silent-symphony. More recent thoughts – expressed politely enough to pass the editorial scrutiny of the courteous and respectful Eve Patten and Aidan O’Malley – may be found in ‘A Journey Eastward: Reframing the History of Irish Classical Music’, in Ireland, West to East : Irish Cultural Connections with Central and Eastern Europe. Though it has been necessary on various occasions in recent years to explain my reservations re. Ryan/White, the process of tackling un- or under-explored questions has been been far more rewarding.