Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Edward Jones & His Collections of National Airs (1784-1821) - What Is Available Online?


Edward Jones (1752-1824; see Welsh Biography Online; DNB 30, 1892, p. 98), harper, pianist, composer, arranger, music teacher, editor and collector of rare tunes and rare books, was born in Wales. He came to London in 1775 where he quickly made a career as a musician. In 1783 Jones was appointed "Bard to the Prince of Wales", a title he always proudly displayed in his many publications. In an obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine (Vol. 94/2, 1824, pp. 185-6) he was called "perhaps the most distinguished performer on the harp of this day" and "nearly the last of the race of Welsh bards". Most important among his many publications were his groundbreaking works about Welsh music (see Kinney, pp. 57-70). The first volume of the Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards appeared in 1784. Volumes 2 & 3 followed in 1802 and 1821. 

But besides these he also edited an astounding amount of collections with foreign music. The years from the late 1780s to the 1830s were in some way a golden era of the "national air". Songs and tunes from Scotland and Ireland were published in great numbers. But one could also find "national music" from many European countries like for example Denmark, Russia or Italy and even from the most exotic and far away places like China and India. 

Jones was a major protagonist of this particular genre, not only with his books about Welsh music but also with more than half a dozen international collections. Typical were the Lyric Airs (1805) that included "Greek, Albanian, Walachian, Turkish, Arabian, Persian, Chinese, and Moorish National Songs and Melodies". In others one could find Maltese, Norwegian or Swiss tunes and even one from Lapland. He himself apparently never traveled to foreign countries to collect music. But Mr. Jones clearly was familiar with all the relevant literature and also had informants who supplied him with what he needed. For example some of the Greek and Turkish tunes in the Lyric Airs were contributed by an "English traveller in the Levant". 

The Welsh collections: 
  • Edward Jones, Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards: Preserved by Tradition, and Authentic Manuscripts, from Remote Antiquity; Never Before Published [...], London, 1784 
The first edition can be found at IMSLP, together with scans of a couple of later editions. A new edition published in 1794 is also available at the Internet Archive and Google Books. A 2nd ed. of the 2nd part of this book with only the tunes was offered in 1800 (at the Internet Archive). The third edition appeared in 1808 (at the Internet Archive and BStB-DS, 2 Mus.pr. 3307) and another later one was recently digitized and made available at the Internet Archive by the University of Western Ontario. This is the best scan so far:

  • Edward Jones, The Bardic Museum, of Primitive British Literature; and other admirable rarities; forming the second volume of the Musical, Poetical, and Historical Relicks of the Welsh Bards and Druids [...], London, 1802 
 Scans of the 2nd volume are easily available at IMSLP, the Internet Archive, Google Books and BStB-DS: 4 P.o.rel. 50-2.
  • Edward Jones, Hên ganiadau Cymru. Cambro-British Melodies, or the National Songs, and Airs of Wales, enriched with curious Historical Illustrations, and never before published. [...], London, 1821
This is the 3rd volume. It was first announced in the Morning Chronicle on July 7, 1821 (at BNCN). The title is taken from Copac. As far as I know this book has not been digitized yet. 
  • Edward Jones, A Choice Collection of Welsh Airs, Carnavon, n. d. [1800]
    (available at Google Books [incomplete, with 25 tunes] and at IMSLP [with 50 tunes]) 
In between he also published this little collection of Welsh tunes for popular consumption.

International collections: 
  • Edward Jones, A Miscellaneous Collection of French and Italian Ariettas; Adapted with Accompaniments for the Harp or Harpsichord, London, n. d. [1785]
    (available at the Internet Archive)
  • Edward Jones, The Musical Bouquet; or Popular Songs, and Ballads: Some of which are Composed, & others Selected by the Editor: to which are added, proper Accompaniments for the Harp, or Harpsichord, London, n. d. [1799]
    (available at Google Books
This is - as the title says - a collection of popular songs but it includes at least some exotic pieces, for example an "Egyptian Love Song" composed by himself (p. 4) and "The Death Song of the Cherokee Indian", a popular American hit at that time (p. 18).
  • Edward Jones, Lyric Airs: consisting of Specimens of Greek, Albanian, Walachian, Turkish, Arabian, Persian, Chinese, and Moorish National Songs and Melodies; (being the first selection of the kind ever yet offered to the public:) to which are added Basses for the Harp, or Piano-Forte. Likewise are subjoined a few explanatory notes on the figures and movements of the Modern Greek Dance; with a short dissertation on the Origin of the Ancient Greek Music, London, n. d. [1805]
    (available at IMSLPBiblioteca Digital Hispánica & now at the Internet Archive)

This is a very impressive and fascinating collection with tunes and songs from all kinds of different countries. He even gives the sources for many of these pieces as well as some explanations. A review can be found in the Monthly Review (Vol. 66, 1810, pp. 376-9). There are several extant copies of this book in British libraries (see Copac) but it was digitized in Spain. 
  • Edward Jones, A Selection of most Admired and Original German Waltzes, never before published; adapted for the Harp, or Piano-Forte, London, n. d.[1806]
    (available at Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
I have to include this one too, if only to show that Mr. Jones was really up to date. This was one of the earliest English collections of German Waltzes (i. e. the new Viennese Waltz). Amusingly there is even a piece called "Werter's Waltz", the one "which Werter and Charlotte are said to have first danced together" (No. 3, p. 3). 
  • Edward Jones, Maltese Melodies; Or National Airs, And Dances, usually performed by the Maltese Musicians at their Carnival & other Festivals; with a few other characteristic Italian Airs & Songs; To these are annex'd a selection of Norwegian Tunes, never before Published; and to which are added Basses for the Harp or Piano-Forte, London, n. d. [1807]
    (available at the Internet Archive
A short review can be found in the Monthly Magazine (Vol. 24/2, 1807, p. 182). Of particular interest are the Norwegian tunes. The collection of "folk tunes" in Norway started only several decades later. I really wonder where he found these pieces.
  • Edward Jones, Musical Curiosities; or a Selection of the most characteristic National Songs, & Airs ... Consisting of Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Danish, Lapland, Malabar, New South Wales, French, Italian, Swiss and particualarly some English, and Scotch National Melodies, to which are added Variations for the Harp, or the Piano-Forte, London, n. d. [1811]
    (not yet digitized)
A review was published again in the Monthly Magazine (Vol. 34, 1812, p. 54):
"Mr. Jones, of whose industry, as a gleaner of national music, we have often had occasion to speak, has furnished, in the present collection, a great number of popular, and some exceedingly curious, foreign and domestic airs. The whole occupies forty two folio pages, and forms a body of variegated and well chosen melodies, that do much credit to the selector's judgment, and will be found highly acceptable to the public".
  • Edward Jones, The Musical Hive; or, A Selection of some of the choicest and most Characteristic National Melodies; consisting of Irish, Spanish, and English Songs and Airs; to which are added, Variations for the Harp or Piano-Forte, London, n. d. [1812]
    (not yet digitized)
Some copies of the last two publications have survived in British Libraries (see Copac)
  • Edward Jones, Terpsichore's Banquet, or, Select Beauties of Various National Melodies consisting of Spanish, Maltese, Russian, Armenian, Hindostan, English, Swedish, German, French, Swiss, and other favourite airs; most of them never before published; & now arranged with basses properly adapted to the harp, or piano-forte ; to which are added Variations to several of the airs, & a solo, opera 13th, London, 1813
    (not yet digitized) 
One extant copy can be found in the British Library (see Copac) and another one in the USA, in the NYPL (see the catalog entry, with a title list).
  • Edward Jones, The Musical Portfolio: containing a selection of the most popular national melodies; consisting of Scotch, Irish, English, and other favourite airs, adapted to the harp, or piano-forte, to which are added variations, London, n. d. [1817]
    (not yet digitized) 
This little booklet was first announced in Morning Chronicle on May 27, 1817 (at BNCN). One copy can be found in the NYPL, see again the catalog entry. Apparently three more numbers of the Musical Portfolio were published until 1821, at least according to an ad in the Morning Chronicle on July 7 that year.

I have left out the works that apparently do not include foreign national airs: Musical Trifles (1791), Musical Remains (1796, with pieces by Händel, Bach, Abel & co.), Popular Cheshire Melodies (1798), Minstrel's Serenades (1809; some of his own compositions), Musical Miscellany (1810; some sonatas). All in all this is an interesting and impressive oeuvre that deserves further study. Let's hope some more of these publications will be made available in the not so distant future.

Literature:

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