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Synge and Edwardian Ireland$
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Brian Cliff and Nicholas Grene

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609888

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609888.001.0001

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Synge, Music, and Edwardian Dublin

Synge, Music, and Edwardian Dublin

(p.84) 6 Synge, Music, and Edwardian Dublin
Synge and Edwardian Ireland

Harry White

Oxford University Press

Synge’s formative years as a writer (1893–1901) were spent abroad, but his earliest artistic impulses and training were expressed through music. The history of late Victorian and Edwardian music in Dublin can provide a much better explanation than has hitherto been available for Synge’s abandonment of music in favour of literature. Several features of music in Dublin at the turn of the century explain why it was that Synge’s ‘cry to God for a melody’ (1898) was answered in words rather than tones. These include the influence of Stanford on the composition of Irish art music, the appointment of Michele Esposito to the Royal Irish Academy of Music (where Synge was a student) in 1882, the uncertain fate of the Dublin Orchestral Society in Edwardian Dublin, and the reception of music in Dublin in Joyce’s ‘The Dead’, written in the same year as Synge’s Playboy of the Western World.

Keywords:   Stanford, Esposito, Joyce, Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin Orchestral Society

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