Continental Organists and Catholic Church Music in Ireland, 1860-1960


Deacy, Mary Regina (2005) Continental Organists and Catholic Church Music in Ireland, 1860-1960. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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Abstract

From the early nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century, the Irish catholic church recruited musicians from the continent to fill positions of organist and choirmaster in the country’s cathedrals and churches. Although Ireland had a rich monastic liturgical tradition in the middle ages, a series of conflicts, invasions and persecutions denied this tradition a normal course of development for almost three hundred years. Consequently, after Catholic Emancipation in 1829, the Irish catholic church, free to publicly celebrate its liturgies, was confronted with a scarcity of Irish professional musical leadership. To remedy the situation, members of the hierarchy turned to the continent, and for approximately the next hundred years, employed continental musicians to improve sacred music practice in Ireland. These musicians, mostly from Germany and Belgium, made a notable contribution to the development not only of sacred music, but to the general musical life of the towns and cities where they worked. Some of these foreign organists returned to their native countries after a short time. Others remained in their adoptive country, labouring tirelessly to raise the standard of liturgical music in the Irish catholic church. All b u t one of these organists are now deceased, as are many of their relatives and close associates. This present work sets out to discover and record this unique and interesting period in Irish catholic church music. It aims to acknowledge the work and document the legacy of this sometimes ‘forgotten generation ’ of musicians. In effect, it is a tribute to their contribution to the course and history of Irish catholic church music. This study has taken the form of a fieldwork survey, and is effectively a gathering of information on foreign organists who arrived in Ireland between 1860 and 1960. Much research was carried out to discover the identities of these musicians, their areas of operation, and their collective influence on the course of Irish catholic church music and their place in the broader social context of the arts in Ireland. An examination of Aloys Fleischmann’s book, Music in Ireland: A Symposium (1952),2 revealed identities of cathedral organists who were employed in Ireland from the late nineteenth century. Information was then sought from the particular cathedral records and diocesan archives. Interviews were conducted with family members, pupils and other associates of these organists. This necessitated visits to many cities and towns in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Visits, in some instances, revealed further information concerning additional continental organists employed in Ireland, which was not contained in Fleischmann’s register.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Keywords: Continental Organists; Catholic Church Music; Ireland 1860-1960;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > Music
Item ID: 5088
Depositing User: IR eTheses
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2014 13:44
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