Vincent Wallace and the Maritana Overture


William Vincent Wallace (March 11, 1812 –October 12, 1865) was an Irish composer and musician, who in his day, he was famous on three continents as a double virtuoso on violin and piano, but nowadays is mainly remembered as an opera composer of note, with key works such as Maritana (1845) and Lurline (1847/60). Not to be confused with William Wallace, a Scots composer (1860 – 1940), Wallace was born on March 11, 1812, at Colbeck Street, Waterford, Ireland, the first of three children. Both of his parents were Irish; his father, Sergeant Spencer Wallace of Ballina, County Mayo, one of four children, who was born in Killala, County Mayo in 1789, became a regimental bandmaster with the North Mayo Militia of the 20th Worcestershire Regiment of the British Army based in Ballina. William was born while the regiment was stationed for one year in Waterford, one of several successive postings in Ireland and the U.K. The family returned to Ballina some four years later, in 1816, and William spent his formative years there, taking an active part in his father’s band and already composing pieces by the age of nine for the band recitals.

The band, having a reputation for high standards, apart from regimental duties would have featured at social events in big houses in the area. Under the tuition of his father and uncle, Wallace wrote pieces for the bands and orchestras of his native area.  He became accomplished in playing various band instruments before the family left the Army in 1826 (their regiment then being the 29th Foot), moving from Waterford to Dublin, and becoming active in music in the capital. Wallace learned to play several instruments as a boy, including the violin, clarinet, organ, and piano, and after they settled in Ireland, got work as second violinist in Dublin’s Theatre Royal. In 1830, at the age of 18, he became organist of the Roman Catholic Cathedral at Thurles, County Tipperary, and taught music at the Ursuline Convent attached to it there. He fell in love with one of his pupils, Isabella Kelly, whose father consented to their marriage in 1832 on condition that Wallace become a Roman Catholic. At the time he converted, he took the additional name Vincent, and preferred it over William.  The couple soon moved to Dublin, where Wallace was employed as a violinist at the Theatre Royal, where he heard Paganini play and was stimulated to write his own violin concerto, which he premiered with the Dublin Anacreontic Society in 1834.

Economic conditions in Dublin having deteriorated after the Act of Union of 1800, the whole Wallace family decided to emigrate to Australia in 1835. Wallace, together with his wife Isabella and young son, Willy, travelled as free emigrants from Liverpool in July. His father, with his second wife Matilda and one child, travelled with the rest of the family, Elizabeth, a soprano, and Wellington, a flautist, as bounty emigrants from Cork that autumn. The composer’s party first landed at Hobart, Tasmania, in late October, where they stayed several months, and then moved on to Sydney in January 1836, where he took an active part in the city’s musical life. At his debut in February, he played both a violin concerto and a piano concerto. Australians consider him their nation’s first significant instrumentalist.  Following the arrival of the rest of the family in February, the Wallaces opened the first Australian music academy in April. Wallace had already given many celebrity concerts in Sydney, and, being the first virtuoso to visit the Colony, became known as the “Australian Paganini.” His sister Elizabeth, at age 19, in 1839 married an Australian singer and ex-convict, John Bushelle, with whom she gave many recitals before his early death in 1843 on a tour of van Diemen’s Land. Wallace was also active in the business of importing pianos from London, but his main activity involved many recitals in and around Sydney under the patronage of the Governor, General Sir Richard Bourke. The most significant musical events of this period were two large oratorio concerts at St. Mary’s (Roman Catholic) Cathedral in Sydney in 1836 and 1838, on behalf of the organ fund, which were directed by Wallace, and which utilized all the available musical talent of the Colony, including the recently formed Philharmonic [Choral] Society.

In 1838, leaving his wife and his son in Sydney with relatives, Wallace began a roving career that took him around the globe. Wallace claimed that from Australia he went to New Zealand on a whaling-voyage in the South seas and while there encountered the Maori tribe Te Aupouri, and having crossed the Pacific, he visited Chile, Argentina, Peru, Jamaica, and Cuba, giving concerts in the large cities of those countries.  He started touring and traveled up and down the Americas.  In Valparaiso, Chile, where there was an active British population, his presence was, according to Chilean sources, influential in the development of Chilean classical music.  In 1841, he conducted a season of Italian opera in Mexico City. Moving on to the United States, he stayed at New Orleans for some years, where he was feted as a virtuoso on violin and piano and composed a mass for the cathedral there, before reaching New York, where he was enthusiastically received, was equally celebrated, and published his first compositions (1843-44).

From there, he went back to Europe, appearing in Germany and Holland, and finally made a debut in the land of his birth in Hanover Square, London, May 8, 1845, and made various appearances as a pianist. He used his singular travels around the world and the fanciful tales that resulted as part of his publicity.  At that point, he primarily turned to writing operas.  In collaboration with librettist Edward Fitzball, he wrote an opera, Maritana, which used music Wallace had written over the years. In November of that year, it was performed at Drury Lane with great success, and was later presented internationally, including Dublin (1846), Vienna, Austria (1848), Philadelphia, and  Australia.  Wallace’s sister, Elisabeth, appeared at Covent Garden in the title role in 1848.The Illustrated London News said that its tunes were to be heard everywhere.  Some critics, however, commented that it lacked a cohesive style. Maritana was followed by Matilda of Hungary (1847) which was a failure,  Lurline (1847/60) which could not find a producer, The Amber Witch (1861), Love’s Triumph (1862) and The Desert Flower (1863) based on the libretto of Halévy’s Jaguarita l’Indienne. He also published numerous compositions for the piano.

Wallace continued to be gripped by wanderlust. He developed a serious eye condition and decided that a trip to Brazil would cure it. Oddly, it did. While there, he invested his money into a piano company and when that went broke, he returned to New York. On the way there, his steamship’s boiler exploded, but he survived.     In 1854, Wallace became an American citizen. In New York, in 1843–44, he had been associated with the early concert seasons of the New York Philharmonic Society, and in 1853 was elected an Honorary (Life) Member of the Society. By 1858, he was appearing in Germany. In 1859, he raised some needed cash by selling the rights to his unproduced opera Lurline to Pyne and Harrison, no doubt regretting the decision when it became a considerable hit at Covent Garden in 1860.  In later years, having returned to Europe for the premieres of his later operas, he developed a heart condition. In 1864, the heart pains he had been suffering turned worse and, typically, he decided a change of scene was required. He retired to Passy, France, where he was warmly received by other musical celebrities.  He received treatment in Paris in 1864 but moved to the High Pyrenees where he died in poor circumstances at the Château de Bagen, Sauveterre de Comminges, in the Haute Garonne on October 12, 1865, and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London; the epitaph on his recently-refurbished headstone now reads “Music is an art that knows no locality but heaven – Wm. V. Wallace.”

Vincent Wallace was a cultivated man and an accomplished musician, whose work as an operatic composer, at a period by no means encouraging to music in England, has a distinct historical value. Like Michael William Balfe, he was born an Irishman, and his reputation as one of the few composers known beyond the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at that time is naturally coupled with Balfe’s. The operas Marita and Lurline show a considerable ability in creating a sustained dramatic line, but like all his operas, they are weakened by the uneasy combinations of styles within them. On the other hand, he was very original in his use of national musical elements: He may have been the first composer of note, for instance, to use the flattened second degree of the scale, a frequent feature of native Spanish music, to evoke that country in his music. It is striking how aspects of his Marita (with a Spanish setting), anticipate Bizet’s Carmen. Since Marita was played all through Europe, the similarities between the two operas’ gypsy fortune-telling scenes is unlikely to be mere coincidence. The two successful operas held the stage through the nineteenth century and a little beyond, but are practically unknown today, though commentators close to our time have noted that some scenes have an almost Verdian power.   In addition to his operas, he also wrote a large amount of piano music (including some virtuoso pieces) that was much in vogue in the 19th century. Wallace’s piano music ranges from pieces calculated to be of practical use for home music-making to highly difficult virtuoso display pieces. They remain of some interest today, but his violin music is less substantial. His more modest output of songs and ballads, equally wide-ranging in style and difficulty, was also popular in his day, some numbers being associated with famous singers of the time.

The following work by Vincent Wallace is contained in my collection:

Maritana: Overture.


I’m a Homeschool Dad

I’m a Homeschool Dad
by Timothy Palla in Homeschool Enrichment Magazine (2010) via Homeschool Encouragement (2012)

Hello, my name is Tim, and I’m a homeschool dad. (Other homeschool dads, please respond with a unanimous, “Hi, Tim.”)

My wife and I have five children and have been involved in homeschooling since 1993. By the grace of God we have seen our two oldest sons graduate and are happy to report that they are well-adjusted, hardworking, intelligent young men. Our three younger children seem to be following suit. During our home education years, we have experienced many ups and downs, joys and disappointments, struggles and triumphs. Our lives have been deeply enriched at every bend in the road, but it didn’t always seem like it at the time, especially when that bend spiraled down a steep mountain or took a U-turn back to Square One.

Read more:

William Walker and “Captain Kidd/Nashville” from Southern Harmony


William Walker (May 6, 1809 – September 24, 1875) was an American Baptist song leader, shape note “singing master,” and compiler of four shape note tune-books, most notable of which was The Southern Harmony.  Walker was born in Martin’s Mills near Cross Keys, SC, on May 6, 1809, the son of a Welsh immigrant, and grew up near Spartanburg. Receiving only an elementary education, at the age of eighteen he went with his family to live in Spartanburg, where he became associated with the Welsh-Baptist Church and soon thereafter began teaching music.  For the rest of his life, “Singin’ Billy,” so called to distinguish him from other William Walkers in Spartanburg, taught singing schools in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and eastern Tennessee, devoting his life to the collection of southern Appalachian folk hymns, many of which were of Welsh, Scotch, Irish, and English origins.

At the age of 24, Walker married Amy Golightly, and they became the parents of ten children. Together with Benjamin Franklin White, who had married Amy’s sister Thurza, he prepared a collection of hymns, Southern Harmony, which was printed at New Haven, SC, in 1835, using the four-shape shape note system of notation.   This collection was revised in 1840, 1847 and 1854. Going through these four editions, it sold 600,000 copies during the first 25 years.  Evidently it was in Walker’s book that the tune “New Britain” was first used with John Newton’s “Amazing Grace,” and its inclusion gave it widespread usage.  White later parted with Walker and published his own collection, the well-known Sacred Harp, in 1844. Walker’s Southern Harmony was immensely popular among the southern rural people, and before the Civil War it could be purchased in general stores.

In 1846 Walker issued The Southern and Western Pocket Harmonist. Intended as an appendix to the Southern Harmony, the Pocket Harmonist contains a large number of camp-meeting songs with refrains. In 1867 (preface signed October 1866), Walker published a tunebook entitled Christian Harmony, in which he adopted a seven shape notation. He incorporated over half of the contents of The Southern Harmony in the Christian Harmony, and he added alto parts to those pieces which had lacked them before. For the additional three shapes, Walker devised his own system – an inverted key-stone for “do,” a quarter-moon for “re,” and an isosceles triangle for “si” (or “ti”). Walker issued an expanded edition of Christian Harmony in 1873. In the same year, he brought out a collection of Sunday school songs entitled Fruits and Flowers.

Walker is listed as the composer of many of the tunes in The Southern Harmony. However, he acknowledged that in many cases, he borrowed his tunes, probably from the living tradition of folk music that surrounded him. In working from original tune to finished hymn, Walker borrowed lyrics from established poets such as Charles Wesley (a common practice in his tradition) and added to the tune just a treble (upper) part and a bass, creating three-part harmony. Walker died in Spartanburg on Sept. 24, 1875, and is buried there in Magnolia Cemetery. Walker is the main character of the 1952 folk opera Singin’ Billy, composed by Charles F. Bryan from a libretto by Donald Davidson. The opera incorporates five hymns from Southern Harmony. Several of the tunes included in Walker’s Southern Harmony are utilized in composer Donald Grantham’s 1998 work for wind band of the same name.  Two of Walker’s tunebooks remain in print, and Walker’s compositions and arrangements are widely sung today by Sacred Harp singers as well as others.

My collection includes the following work by William Walker:

Southern Harmony (1835): Captain Kidd/Nashville.

Goshen Academy, Goshen, CT


Goshen Academy

Old Middle St. (CT 63)

Goshen, CT  06756

Goshen Historic District is a historic district encompassing the town center village of Goshen, Connecticut. Centered at the junction of Connecticut Routes 4 and 63, the village developed historically as a rural crossroads of two turnpikes, and has retained its rural character. It is dominated by residential architecture from the first half of the 19th century, and includes churches, a store, and the town’s former 1895 town hall. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.  The town of Goshen, located in the hills of northwestern Connecticut, was settled in the mid-18th century. Its village center, near its geographic center, grew following the development of the east-west turnpike between Torrington and Sharon (now Route 4), and the north-south turnpike between Litchfield and Canaan (now Route 63). The town has remained rural and agricultural in character, with limited industry. In the mid-19th century, the village economy was boosted by the success of Simon Scoville, a blacksmith who established a carriage factory. Scoville’s factory has not survived (it was where the town’s modern town hall/library/school complex is located, just north of the district), but a remnant iron furnace does survive. Scoville also built a number of modest Greek Revival worker houses.  The historic district extends mainly along Route 63, beginning at Lyman Lane in the south, and ending at the modern town hall complex in the north. It also extends east along Route 4. Historic buildings in the district include examples of Greek Revival, Federal, and Victorian architecture from as early as 1760. Its most prominent buildings are civic and religious in nature, including the Goshen Academy, in Federal style, from 1824 which was later known as Eagle Hall and housed the town’s library and the 1832 Goshen Congregational Church. The 1895 Old Town Hall, located at the main junction, is a distinctive example of Shingle style architecture. Other examples of Victorian architecture include the Lavallette-Perrin House, which is an eclectic blend of Greek and Gothic Revival elements.

Hubert Waelrant and “Hard by a fountain”


Hubert Waelrant or Hubertus Waelrand (c. 1517 –November 19, 1595) was a Flemish composer, teacher, and music editor of the Renaissance, who a composer was a member of the generation contemporary with Palestrina, though unlike the most famous composers of the time he mostly worked in northern Europe, and in addition he was progressive in the use of chromaticism and dissonance.   Details of Waelrant’s origin are uncertain, but he was born around 1517 and may have been one of a family of musicians and lawyers from Antwerp, Belgium.  At least he spent most of his life there. As a young man he may have studied in Italy, a common destination for a talented singer and composer from the Netherlands in the 16th century. While no documentary evidence has survived, he maintained contact with a wealthy patron there, and his madrigals show evidence of influence from some of the more progressive Italian composers at mid-century.

The first definite evidence of Waelrant’s activities is in the archives of the Antwerp cathedral, where he was a singer in 1544 and 1545. In the mid 1550s he was active as a teacher as well, and according to his pupil F. Sweerts, writing in Athenae belgicae (1628), he was an innovator in devising a new method of solmization. According to Reese he founded a music school in Antwerp.  He began his activities as a printer in the early 1550s, when he became a partner of Jean de Laet, handling the financial and sales aspects of the operation.  Whether he was strictly Roman Catholic has been a matter of dispute; internal evidence in the music suggests that he may have had Protestant sympathies, and indeed may have been an Anabaptist, although legal documents show him to have been a Catholic. It was a turbulent time of religious conflict—one of the reasons many local composers went to Italy and other countries—and Waelrant may have been deliberately unclear as to his beliefs; Antwerp changed hands several times during his life, alternately captured by Calvinists and the Catholic Habsburgs, and both sides suffered persecution. Some of Waelrant’s simple psalm settings in the vernacular language suggest that he was a Protestant, and there is evidence that they were confiscated by Catholic church authorities at Kortrijk.

Waelrant wrote sacred and secular vocal music as well as instrumental music. His output included motets, metrical psalm settings, French chansons, Italian madrigals, Italian napolitane (secular songs, of a light character, such as would be sung in Naples), and arrangements of the Italian pieces for instruments such as lute.  His motets are the most progressive part of his output, and are characteristic of the mid-century practice intermediate between the smooth, pervading imitation of composers such as Nicolas Gombert, where all voices where equal, and textural contrast was minimized; and late-century composers such as Lassus. Indeed, many of his motets are reminiscent of Lassus, using chromaticism, cross-relations, textural contrast, and always remaining carefully attentive to the comprehensibility of the text. Waelrant uses text-painting as well, highlighting individual words with characteristic gestures, as a method to increase the expressivity of the music. Occasionally, his use of text-painting is obvious: for example, in his chanson Musiciens qui chantez, after the word “taire” (silent) all the voices rest for a moment of silence.

Harmonically, Waelrant usually preferred voicings that contained complete triads, and with his preference for root motions of fifths over those of thirds, one can hear the impending tonal structures of the Baroque era, which was to begin shortly after his death. In this regard his motets also resembled those of Lassus.  Waelrant’s activities as an editor and performer influenced his approach to composition, and his manuscripts are full of helpful shorthand to the performers. He was careful to align notes and syllables, a practice by no means universal in the 16th century, and he used accidentals reliably, rarely leaving the interpretation of half- and whole-steps to the singer.  His settings of secular texts ranged from the light to the serious, and employ an array of contrapuntal devices, a characteristic more of secular music in northern Europe than in Italy; but the language of the settings is Italian for the madrigals and French for the chansons.

Details of his life are sparse after 1558, but he probably remained in Antwerp, where he was active as a composer, consultant for the tuning of cathedral bells, and music editor. Most of his music was published in Antwerp, although at least one collection of 30 songs (napolitane) was published in Venice (1565).  He collaborated on a music anthology with several other Flemish composers in 1584, including Cornelis Verdonck and Andreas Pevernage, and the next year he edited a book of Italian madrigals (Symphonia angelica), some of which he wrote himself, which became extraordinarily successful.  Italian madrigals were one of the most popular forms of music in Europe in the late 16th century, and composers wrote them, in Italian, even in countries where Italian was not spoken.   At the end of his life he endured financial difficulty. He died in Antwerp on November 19, 1595, and was buried in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Church of Our Lady, Antwerp).  At least three of his many children — ten by one of his three or four wives — were also musicians.

The following work by Hubert Waelrant is contained in my collection:

Hard by a fountain.

John Francis Wade and “Adeste Fideles”

wade j f

John Francis Wade (1710  or 1711 – August 16, 1786) was an English hymnist who is sometimes credited with writing and composing the hymn “Adeste Fideles” (which was later translated to “O Come All Ye Faithful”), since, even though the actual authorship of the hymn remains uncertain, the earliest copies of the hymn all bear his signature.  Wade was born around 1710 or 1711 either in England or in Douai, Flanders, France.  Unfortunately, very little is known of Wade’s actual life. His father’s name may have been John Wade, as a Yorkish man of this name converted to Roman Catholicism around 1730, and John Francis Wade is known to have studied on the continent at a Dominican College in Bornhem, Flanders, and to have joined the Marian Confraternity of the Rosary at that time. From around 1737, Wade apparently lived in London and wrote his numerous chantbooks.

“Adeste Fidelis” is said by some to have been taken from a Graduale of the Cistercians, the original of which is sometimes ascribed to Giovanni Fidanza Bonaventura (1221-1274), but the hymn is believed to have been written around 1740 to 1744 and appears in seven known manuscript copybooks dating to the mid 18th century (beginning c. 1743) known as Cantus Diversi by Wade.  Wade’s Roman Catholic liturgical books were often decorated with Jacobite floral imagery, and some believe that the texts had coded Jacobite meanings, suggesting that the hymn “Adeste Fideles” was a birth ode to Bonnie Prince Charlie, replete with secret references decipherable by the “faithful” followers of the Pretender, James Francis Edward Stuart.

Though Wade seems to have personally espoused the Jacobite cause and hoped for a renewal of the Stuart line, his political activities may have been limited to propagandizing hymns such as “Adeste fideles” and “Vexilla regis.” At any rate, his musical influence was quite wide.  Samuel Wesley corresponded with him, and Vincent Novello published his work. His championing of Catholic plainchant helped fuel the British national revival of early music in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Though Wade’s name comes to our attention most often for his arrangement of the well-known carol “Adeste fideles” (O come, all ye faithful), he is more than a musical “one-hit wonder.” By far the more important work of his life was his production of a large series of books of Catholic plainchant, both printed and manuscript copies. An enthusiastic throwback to the old days of the monastic scriptorium, Wade perfected his own hand at calligraphy, illumination, and the copying of plainchant worship music.

Wade’s manuscripts served the Catholic liturgy in the chapels of most of London’s foreign embassies, as well as the private chapels of many English, American, and European Catholic aristocrats. He also published editions of Catholic liturgical books for wider dissemination. He has been called the “father of the English plainchant revival.”  Wade fled to France after the Jacobite rising of 1745 was crushed and settled in Douay. As a Catholic layman, he lived with exiled English Catholics in France, where he taught music, copied plain chant, published hymn manuscripts, and worked on church music for private us. A standard edition of his Cantus Diversi was made about 1750-1751 and discovered at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, England. Wade is now usually credited with being the author.  Wade died on August 16, 1786, at Douai, France.

My collection includes the following work by John Francis Wade:

Adeste Fidelis.

Ludovico da Viadana and “La Fiorentina”


Lodovico Grossi da Viadana, usually Lodovico Viadana, though his family name was Grossi (c. 1560 –  May 2, 1627) was an Italian composer, teacher, and Franciscan friar of the Order of Friars Minor Observants, who was the first significant figure to make use of the newly developed technique of figured bass, one of the musical devices which was to define the end of the Renaissance and beginning of the Baroque eras in music.  He was born c. 1560 in Viadana, a town near Parma in the province of Mantua, Italy. According to a document dating from about 150 years after his death, he was a member of the Grossi family but took the name of his birth city, Viadana, when he entered the order of the Minor Observants prior to 1588. His early education and career are not well documented.  Though there is no contemporary evidence, it has been claimed that he studied with Costanzo Porta, and he had definitely become choirmaster at the cathedral in Mantua by 1594 serving to 1597. From there he may have moved to Padua, but in 1597 he went to Rome, and in 1602 he became choirmaster at the convent of the cathedral of San Luca in Mantua.

A prolific composer of sacred vocal music during the transition from Renaissance to Baroque styles, Viadana is important in the development of the early Baroque technique of basso continuo, and its notational method, known as figured bass. The first dozen of Viadana’s published works, regarded as quite expressive in their day, focused on a cappella music, but by his Opus 13 he was adding an organ bass line, not quite a full basso continuo. His most important works are his Masses of 1596, his Opus 22 Lamentations, and his Opus 16 Completorium.   He used to be credited with the invention of the basso continuo, although figured-bass parts have since been noticed in slightly earlier published works by Peri and Banchieri from at least as early as 1597.

While Viadana did not invent the method, he was indisputably the first to use it in a widely distributed collection of sacred music (Cento concerti ecclesiastici con il basso continuo, Op. 12), which he published in Venice in 1602. These church concertos of his had few enough vocal parts that the organ continuo became absolutely necessary for harmonic support.  It remains the first published use of continuo with sacred vocal music; the partly figured bass line is designed to allow any number of voices, from one to four, to sing the music, with the organ filling in the missing parts.  Agostino Agazzari in 1607 published a treatise describing how to interpret the new figured bass, though it is clear that many performers had by this time already learned the new method, at least in the most progressive musical centers in Italy.

Viadana changed jobs fairly often and held a succession of posts at various cathedrals in Italy, including the Concordia Cathedral near Venice (1608-1609), and the Fano Cathedral on the east coast of Italy, where he was maestro di cappella from 1610 to 1612. From 1614 to 1617, he held a position in his religious order of definitor (or assistant to the head administrator of a district within the diocese) which covered the entire province of Bologna, including Ferrara, Mantua, and Piacenza. This job he managed to hold for three years. Viadana may have repeatedly fallen victim to little religio-political intrigues among his associates; this at least is the reason for his being ordered to leave the town of Viadana in 1623.  By 1623 he had moved to Busseto, and later he worked at the convent of Santa Andrea, in Gualtieri, near Parma. He died in Gualtieri, Italy on May 2, 1627.

The following work by Ludovico da Viadana is contained in my collection:

La Fiorentina (on a theme from Ballo del Gran Duca).