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The Irish Suite

Composed for orchestra, The Irish Suite was completed in June, 1947. It was commissioned by the Eire Society of Boston for a Boston Pops concert on June 6, 1947 conducted by Arthur Fiedler. The Irish Suite was originally called "Erie Suite" and had only four movements which were all all written in 12 days before the concert: The Irish Washerwoman; The Minstrel Boy; The Last Rose of Summer, The Rakes of Mallow. Two years later in 1949 two more movements were written: The Wearing of the Green (first performed separately on May 3) and The Girl I Left Behind Me (first performed separately on June 14) were added and the order changed. It is 18 minutes and 40 seconds long. The score was dedicated to Arthur Fiedler.

The first recording of The Irish Suite was on June 17, 1949 with Arthur Fiedler conducting the Boston Pops, in analog mono sound, with Alfred Krips, as violin soloist in The Last Rose of Summer. The Irish Suite was first recorded by the composer on October 29, 1952, with Oscar Shumsky, violin soloist, in The Last Rose of Summer, in analog mono sound.

The Irish Suite for orchestra has 6 movements:

1. The Irish Washerwoman
2. The Minstrel Boy
3. The Rakes of Mallow
4. The Wearing of the Green
5. The Last Rose of Summer
6. The Girl I Left Behind Me

The Irish Suite was arranged by the composer for Band. Only 4 movements were used:
1. The Irish Washerwoman
2. The Minstrel Boy
3. The Rakes of Mallow
6. The Girl I Left Behind Me


Composer quote: "I was glad to get your letter of October 31st regarding my Irish Suite album. There are a couple of things I wanted to be sure were included in the notes and I am pleased that I can pass them on to you directly.

The first is the fact that the Suite was commissioned by the Eire Society of Boston. The second is the dedication of the score "to Arthur Fiedler". I hope both of these facts will be given a prominent place in the comments.

No doubt you will have some remarks on Irish folk music, of which the Irish Suite is an orchestral setting. There is one troublesome point, namely in The Girl I Left Behind Me. According to the information I have, it was originally an English song called "Brighton Camp"; the tune found its way to Ireland and there acquired the words "The Girl I Left Behind Me". Since it is Irish by adoption, it was included in the present Suite.

Here is some material on the music itself which you may find useful. In The Minstrel Boy the words of the poem by Thomas Moore "The minstrel boy to the war has gone"--are conveyed by distant trumpets, drums, and cannon. It is a slow march over a basso ostinato.

The Rakes of Mallow also describes the text, which tells of the carousing and rioting of the young bloods of Mallow. The music grows faster and faster and noisier and noisier. Here you might want to quote some of the words, which can be found in collections of Irish folk music.

The Wearing of the Green is a pizzicato ostinato: the strings do not use their bows at all in the number. The tune, treated as a scherzo, alternates between strings, woodwind, and brass.

The Last Rose of Summer features a solo violin, played by Alfred Krips, and is scored for strings and harp, reinforced only by horns and trombones. The story of the song's use in "Martha" suggests itself here.

The Girl I Left Behind Me has a contrapuntal effect near the end, where the piccolo and flutes play the first part of the tune against the second part played in augmentation by the horns.

The Irish Suite was first performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra, Arthur Fiedler conductor, on June 6, 1947 in Symphony Hall, Boston."