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O’Carolan, Turlough (01/01/1670, 03/25/1738)
Turlough O´Carolan (1670-1738) (Irish name Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin) was a blind, itinerant Irish harper, composer and singer, whose great fame is due to his gift for melodic composition. He was the last great Irish harper-composer and is considered by many to be Ireland's national composer.
Carolan was born near Nobber, County Meath, and moved with his family, probably when he was a teenager, to Ballyfarnan, County Roscommon, where his father took a job with the MacDermott Roe family. Mrs. MacDermott Roe gave him an education, and he showed talent in poetry. After being blinded by smallpox, perhaps at the age of eighteen, Carolan was taught the harp for three years. Then, being given a horse and a guide, he set out to travel Ireland and compose songs for patrons. For almost fifty years, Carolan journeyed from one end of the country to the other, composing and performing his tunes.
Carolan is buried in the village of Keadue, County Roscommon, where the annual O'Carolan Harp Festival and Summer School commemorates his life and work. O'Carolan is depicted on the £50 note, Series B Banknote of Ireland.
Carolan composed both songs and instrumental harp music. All his song texts were written in Irish, bar one in English. Most were dedicated to and about specific individuals, many do not survive whole, and what lyrics survive have been published only in part.
Carolan's musical style shows a mix of folk and classical elements. His style of composition consisted of composing the tune first as he rode from place to place, then adding the words later. Many of the tunes attributed to him are older traditional melodies which he improved or lengthened. He frequently wrote "planxties" in honor of a particular person. It is said that weddings and funerals were often delayed until he could arrive to perform. His music was first published in Neale's A Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes ... in Dublin, c.1726. At least 220 tunes which survive to this day are attributed to him, though most were not published or even written down in his lifetime; they survived in the repertories of fiddlers, pipers and the last of the old Irish harpers, and were collected and published piecemeal in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Only in 1958 was his entire repertoire published in one edition by Donal O'Sullivan, and even then few lyrics were given and some of the tunes were edited to make them fit the treble register. A definitive and comprehensive edition of harp settings matched with the words of the songs has yet to be produced although a number of song settings appeared in The Bunting Collection of Irish Folk Music and Song by Donal O'Sullivan.
His compositions are performed today by many popular Irish musicians, such as Planxty, The Chieftains, and The Dubliners. In addition, Carolan's Concerto has been used as a neutral Slow March by the Foot Guards of the British Army during the ceremony of Trooping the Colour.
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|Total 6 Compositions|
|Total 6 Compositions|