Girl from Ireland: Jean-Charles Hoffelle
The first CD dedicated entirely to the orchestral music of Ina Boyle has been named ‘Disc of the Day’ by French Magazine, Artalinna. Follow the link below to read full the article by Jean-Charles Hoffelle.
Ina Boyle’s choral work ‘The Guardian Angel’ taken from her collection of 15 Gaelic Hymns (1923-24) performed by The Compline Choir a St Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, USA.
The work was performed as part of a celebration mass for the Feast of St Michael and all Angels, on 30 September 2018. The mass is available to listen back via the Compline Choir’s podcast service (follow the link below).
ORISON: The Guardian Angel – Ina Boyle (1889-1967)
PSALM 103 – Peter R. Hallock (1924-2014)
HYMN: Round the Lord in glory seated (Tune: Rustington) – Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918)
NUNC DIMITTIS: Plainsong, Tone I; harm. William Byrd (c. 1543-1623)
ANTHEM: Tibi Christe, splendor Patris – Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525-1594)
Jason Anderson, director • Jeffrey Ricco, reader • Jeremy Matheis, cantor • Tyler Morse, orison soloist
"Ina Boyle is a noteworthy woman of Irish music, so why haven't we heard of her?" - so asks the Irish Examiner's Cathy Desmond
INA BOYLE is something of an enigma. Her name is unfamiliar to most music lovers, yet she was one of the most prolific and lauded of Ireland’s 20th century composers. A protegé of Ralph Vaughan Williams, she was the only female composer to have work published by the Carnegie UK Trust, a fact which made the London newspaper headlines in 1920.
She was the first Irishwoman to write a symphony, a concerto and a ballet. Great strides have been made in recent years bringing her music to wider attention. Music scholars have transcribed and edited her unpublished manuscripts. Her work was a highlight of Composing the Island, the retrospective project looking back at a century of Irish music held at the National Concert Hall in 2016. Now a recording dedicated to her work and a study on her life and music from Cork University Press is shedding light on this neglected composer and prompting a revival of interest in her work.
In Ina Boyle — A Composer’s Life, musicologist Ita Beausang, gives a fascinating account of an elusive and intriguing figure in Irish cultural life. A picture emerges of a gentle somewhat eccentric woman who took an unconventional path in music-a sort of musical counterpart of Molly Keane. While shy and self-effacing, Boyle was nevertheless driven and resolute in efforts to hone her craft and promote her work. Born during the Victorian era and growing up in a remote Wicklow rectory, she composed steadfastly from childhood to old age through two world wars, the 1916 Rebellion and founding of the Irish Free State amassing a large body of work, much of it never performed.
Beausang writes in the preface: “Ina Boyle’s sheltered background in Eniskerry seems an unlikely environment for a composer. Her early musical influences came from a violin-making father and lessons with governesses.”
Among her first mentors, Boyle had a cousin who was married to the Armagh born composer Charles Wood and he took an interest in her early work tutoring her by correspondence.
Her first real success came when she entered Sligo Feis Ceoil in 1913. She entered two works and won first and second prize. The first prize was for the piece, Elegy for Cello and Orchestra. A century after it was written, a young Swiss cellist was sifting through the archives of music for cello written during the lifetime of Walton and Elgar, searching for a short piece to add to a recording of their concertos.
“When I finally came across Ina Boyle’s work, I felt immediately attracted to it. I was fascinated by her story,” says Beausang.
Having gained some recognition at home and in the UK, in 1922 Boyle wrote to Ralph Vaughan Williams and asked for lessons. For 16 years until the outbreak of World War, Boyle made the journey by steam ship regularly from Eniskerry to London to work on her compositions with the eminent British composer. Their correspondence detailed in the chapter ‘Lessons in London’ indicate a warm friendship between the Irish woman and RV Williams and his wife.
As well as coaching her in composition, Williams gave her advice on dealing with publishers and navigating the British music world. While she had some success, the bright future predicted for her never happened.
In 1936, Wlliams wrote to Boyle: “I think it is most courageous of you to go on with so little recognition. The only thing to say is that sometimes it does come finally.”
Back in Ireland, she had influential friends and supporters among the Irish scene including Brian Boydell and Aloys Fleischmann who included her work in their programmes for concerts and broadcasts on Radio Éireann. After 1950 there were few performances of her work until the BBC Ulster Orchestra programmed a couple of performances of her work with Cork violinist Catherine Leonard performing her violin concerto in 2010.
Beausang suggests that one of the main reasons why her work remains in obscurity is because so little of her work was published. “Existing only in manuscript form, it wasn’t easily accessible to performers and conductors.”
In this digital age, it is hard to put ourselves back in an era when manuscripts had to be painstakingly copied and imagine the effort and expense of delivering manuscripts into the hands of the right people. The book refers to many instances of Boyle sending manuscripts to conductors, and performers only to have them returned.”
Beausang details a particularly painful rejection. For her third symphony she set poems by Edith Sitwell. Unfortunately, permission was refused by the poet and the manuscript was returned unopened. It must have been infuriating for Boyle when Benjamin Britten went on to set one of Sitwell’s poems, with the poet attending the premiere.
The Second World War interrupted her career. It put an end to to Boyle’s travels to London. “When the war was over she was older and the demand for her music seems to have diminished,” says Beausang.
Her gender was definitely a factor. Publishers like Boosey and Hawkes were unlikely to consider publishing orchestral work by “a young lady, perhaps a few songs”, suggests Beausang. “Perhaps her themes were too sombre for a changing world in search of distraction.”
After the London years, she retreated to Bushy Park, the family home in Wicklow where she led a reclusive life, managing the homestead and caring dutifully for her father. Composer Nicola Lefanu often visited with her mother Elizabeth Maconchy, a close friend of Boyle’s. “We loved visiting Bushy Park. I remember staying there in the late 1950s and seeing the calendar on the wall was from 1933 because nothing changed in that house. It just gently subsided,” said Lefanu.
Undaunted by the lack of recognition, she never stopped composing. In February 1967 weeks before she died, she wrote to her friend Elizabeth Maconchy about her excitement in setting a “most striking old ballad”.
Is it time to rescue her music from oblivion? Beausang reminds us that her substantial archive awaits rediscovery and performance. An essay in the book by Seamus de Barra offers detailed analysis of the music. Perhaps Vaughan Williams’ prediction will prove to be accurate and her time finally will come.
Meticulously researched, this attractive volume is a fascinating account of an extraordinary life and will be a valuable resource for any performers undertaking a revival of the work of Ina Boyle.
Ina Boyle 1989-1967 A Composer’s Life, Ita Beausang and Seamus de Barra is published by Cork University Press.
Ina Boyle’s choral work, ‘The Transfiguration’ (1922), will be performed at the Three Choirs Festival, Hereford on August 1st and will be broadcast live by BBC Radio 3. www.inaboyle.org
Two wonderful reviews of Ina Boyle's orchestral CD by the British Music Society and The Irish Catholic.
"The name of the Irish composer Ina Boyle will be unknown to many until now, but there is a renewed interest in her work, stimulated by the research of Ita Beausang and Séamus de Barra. A new book on the composer by these writers has been published by Cork University, and will shortly be reviewed in a subsequent E-News.
This new CD provides a wide-ranging overview of her work, and she is well served by the performers here, since the playing is assured, sensitive, committed, and very well recorded.
This comment is particularly relevant as Boyle’s sound world is one of great beauty. Her orchestral technique is solid and the music’s colours are subtle and imaginative. Her Irishness is evident in a sort of post-Stanford sort of way (not that he was one of her teachers) with the contours and idioms of Irish folk music usually in the background.
She is one of those composers who continued to write quite lengthy and complex music without what one would have thought was the vital stimulation of live performances. There were such. but only spasmodic and far between. For instance, there was the disappointment of the BBC rehearsing her violin concerto in 1935 but not broadcasting it.
Her main teachers were C. H. Kitson and Percy Buck; Vaughan Williams gave her periodic help and advice, and approved of her music.
So – what of the music? Well, it is definitely worth listening to, but no one going to claim she is a Bax or a Moeran. The main issues are that her tonal palette is a little bland, and while at any given moment in the music sounds, well, lovely, she sometimes gives the impression of not quite knowing where she is going.
For instance the Violin Concerto, an elegy for her mother is deeply felt, but the two slow first movements are too similar in mood. Samuel Barber in his concerto took the same risk but his material is much stronger.
The best pieces on the disc are the Symphony and the Sea Poem. The former has well contrasted movements and hangs together convincingly. The surge of the ocean and the calls of the seabirds are most evocatively caught in the Sea Poem, thought the main idea needs more variety in its treatment, and tends to outstay its welcome".
British Music Society
This programme of music by Irish composer Ina Boyle (1889-1967), a one-time student of Vaughan Williams, collates several of her major orchestral works. The rhapsodic Violin Concerto of 1935 is in three continuous movements, and both conductor Ronald Corp and soloist Benjamin Baker interpret the music with sympathetic attention to detail, maintaining its natural ebb and flow. Boyle wrote three symphonies, and this disc presents the long overdue recording of the First Symphony, subtitled Glencree (In the Wicklow Hills), which dates from 1924-27. The young cellist Nadège Rochat gives a powerful reading of the Psalm for cello and orchestra, written in 1927, while four short but captivating orchestral pieces complete the programme – which reveals Ina Boyle as a composer of originality and invention.
Ina Boyle (1889-1967)
1. Overture for orchestra (1933-34) Allegro vivace
Concerto for violin and orchestra (1932-33 rev. 1935) BB
2. i Lento ma non troppo – Poco più lento – Tempo primo
3. ii Adagio – Animato e crescendo
4. iii Allegro ma non troppo – A tempo, tranquillo – Tempo primo – Teneramente e tranquillo – Tempo primo
Symphony No. 1 “Glencree” (In the Wicklow Hills) (1924-27)
5. i On Lacken Hill (Molto moderato – Più lento, tranquillo)
6. ii Nightwinds in the Valley (Allegro molto – Tranquillo)
7. iii Above Lough Bray (Adagio – Poco più con moto, ma sempre molto moderato)
8. Wildgeese: Sketch for small orchestra (1942) Lento misterioso
9. Psalm for cello and orchestra (1927 rev. 1928) NR
Lento – Poco allegro, inquieto – Lento – Andante, tranquillo – Animato – Adagio
A Sea Poem: Theme, variations and finale for orchestra (1919)
10. Introduction (Lento, molto sostenuto)
11. Theme (Lento e sostenuto)
12. Variation I (Più animato)
13. Variation II (Più vivace, scherzando)
14. Variation III (Più largamente)
15. Variation IV (Adagio, molto tranquillo)
16. Variation V (Allegro molto)
17. Variation VI (Più mosso – Adagio)
18. Finale (Lento, quasi Tempo primo, tranquillo)
SACD-ONLY BONUS TRACK (N.B. This track is playable only on SACD players.)
19. Colin Clout (A Pastoral after Spenser’s The Shepheard’s Calender) (1921)
Molto adagio – Poco più mosso – Molto tranquillo
Ronald Corp conductor
BB Benjamin Baker violin
NR Nadège Rochat cello
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS
Produced in association with BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Musicologist Dr Ita Beausang talks to the Contemporary Music Centre's (CMC) Jonathan Grimes about Ina Boyle. Ita Beausang and Seamas de Barra's book on Boyle's life, Ina Boyle (1889-1967): A Composer's Life, published by Cork University Press, was released this month.
Listen to the interview here:
Ina Boyle (1889-1967): A Composer’s Life
by Ita Beausang and Séamas de Barra
The Irish composer, Ina Boyle (1889-1967), was born in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, where she enjoyed a sheltered childhood as a member of an Anglo-Irish family with roots in the medical, military and diplomatic professions. Her first music teacher was her clergyman father, who made violins for a hobby. She started to compose from an early age and soon found a passion for music that lasted a lifetime, spanning two world wars, the 1916 rebellion, the war of independence, the civil war and the economic war.
Ina Boyle studied privately in Dublin with C.H. Kitson and Percy Buck, she had her first success in 1919 when her orchestral rhapsody, ‘The magic harp’, which was selected for publication by the prestigious Carnegie United Kingdom Trust and was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Adrian Boult. From 1923, realising the need to expand her musical horizons, she visited London for composition lessons with Ralph Vaughan Williams whenever family duties allowed, until her travels were curtailed by the outbreak of the Second World War. Vaughan Williams thought highly of her works but, despite her best efforts to promote them, few were performed in public. During the 1940s some of her orchestral music was broadcast on Radio Éireann in a series of programmes on Irish composers. After the death of her father in 1951, she was again free to travel to London while devoting the rest of her life to composition. As one of twentieth-century Ireland’s most prolific composers and the first Irishwoman to undertake a symphony, a concerto and a ballet, this first book on the life and music of Ina Boyle is long overdue.
Ita Beausang is a native of Cork. She studied piano at the Cork School of Music and the Read School of Pianoforte Playing, Dublin. A music graduate of University College Cork, she joined the teaching staff of the Cork Municipal School of Music. She worked as lecturer and Acting Director at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. Her book Anglo-Irish Music 1780-1830 (CUP: 1966) is the standard work on the period. In 2014 she was awarded honorary life membership of the Society for Musicology in Ireland. She was an Advisory Editor for the Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland (UCD Press: 2013) and has researched the life and music of Ina Boyle since 2006.
Séamas de Barra is a composer and musicologist. His compositions include orchestral and vocal works, which have been performed and broadcast by The National Orchestra of Ireland, The RTÉ Concert Orchestra, The BBC Singers, The National Chamber Choir, and other notable ensembles. He has published widely on twentieth-century Irish music and musical life, including a major monograph on Aloys Fleischmann, and was editor (with Patrick Zuk) of a series of monographs on Irish composers issued by Field Day Press in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame. He is currently working on a study of the Irish Symphonist John Kinsella.
April 2018 | 9781782052647 | €29 £25 | Hardback | 234 x 156mm| 192 pages
Special offer of 20% off the list price of €29.00. Use code: INA (all capitals) in the coupon box
On the 8 March 2018, Ina Boyle's birthday and coincidentally International Women's Day, the Ina Boyle Development Committee held a special, private, preview event in the Wigmore Hall for donors to the forthcoming album of Boyle's music. This CD which is devoted entirely to the orchestral music of Ina Boyle, was recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra, conductor Ronald Corp, and soloists Nadege Rochat (cello) and Benjamin Baker (violin). This was a very special event with excerpts from the forthcoming CD, and speakers including, Composer Nicola le Fanu who shared personal memories of the special friendship her mother, composer Elizabeth Maconchy, had with Ina Boyle. Dr Ita Beausang addressed the significance of this recording to Boyle's music, and shared some exciting information from her forthcoming book on Boyle's life, 'Ina Boyle (1889-1967): A Composer's Life '. Ronald Corp gave an account of the recording and Ina Boyle's beautiful sound world from the conductor's perspective.
To watch the promotional video for the forthcoming CD please clink on the link below
Below are some photos from the event
On the 9th of October 2017, "Psalm" by Ina Boyle was played for the first time 90 years after it was composed. As for most of her compositions, Ina Boyle never had the opportunity to hear it played. Ina Boyle (1889 - 1967) was one of Ireland's most important composers of the early 20th Century. A pupil of Vaughan Williams she would travel regularly to London from her home in Co. Wicklow for lessons with him. He thought highly of her and encouraged her. However, like so many women of her generation, despite encouragement of her friend Elizabeth Maconchy, she would not leave the family who needed her, and lived alone after they died, composing every day. Her huge body of work, orchestral, choral, chamber and vocal , largely unperformed, is preserved in the Library of the Trinity College Dublin awaiting re-discovery. This forthcoming CD is important in the renaissance of this special composer, and is the first devoted to her orchestral music. It is a dual recording by BBC and Dutton Epoch. Much of the music is being performed for the first time.
To watch the promotional video for the forthcoming CD please use the button link below
Conductor: Ronald Corp (http://www.ronaldcorp.co.uk/)
The music recorded at these sessions is due to be released on the Dutton Epoch label in 2018 as part of a CD dedicated to Ina Boyle (http://www.inaboyle.org/)
Produced in association with BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
© (P) BBC/Dutton Epoch 2018
Soloist: Nadège Rochat (http://www.nadegerochat.com/)
Musicologist: Dr. Ita Beausang
Venue: Watford Colosseum (https://watfordcolosseum.co.uk/Online/)
Nadège Rochat plays on the Ex-Vatican Stradivarius cello from 1703.