It’s St. Patrick’s Day this week and on Clef Notes we’re celebrating the classical music of Ireland all month long! Today, let’s take a look at the Irish Suite for Strings written by Dublin-born composer Arthur Duff (1899–1956).
Arthur Duff studied the piano and organ as a child and went on to be a church organist as a teenager. Later he received a formal music education at Trinity College. In addition to performance, Duff also learned to compose. He is known for composing works with Irish idioms for small orchestras. His Irish Suite for Strings (1940) was dedicated to fellow composer E. J. Moeran. Though not actually based on existing folk material, it conveys idioms associated with Irish music. The suite is broken into five movements. The first, “Midir’s Song for Etain,” is based on an Irish myth. The second, “Windy Gap,” found inspiration in a road located in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland. The third movement, “Fishamble Street, Dublin 1742” references the location where Handel’s Messiah was first performed. The fourth movement, “Dance of Daemer,” draws from a Yeat’s quote “They dance all day that dance in the Land of Youth.” Finally, the last movement, “On the Bridge at Clash,” also finds inspiration in the Wicklow Mountains similar to the second movement.
What do you think? Does it evoke Ireland in your mind?