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James Joyce in Paris, 1939, holding a cane James Joyce: Music in the Novels and Poems
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James Joyce Unquote

[ Finnegans Wake ]

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CD #1: Music from the Works of James Joyce

What's Inside

Music from the Works of James Joyce is a recording of music composed to Joyce's own words (including his only known composition) and songs mentioned by him in his works. Continually performed since 1975 at a variety of Joyce festivals and symposiums worldwide, it was first recorded in 1982. But this music is meant not just for scholars. Whether or not you are a reader of Joyce, the concert of songs contained on the CD has been called "entertainment of the highest order" — and the jewel case will make a handsome addition to the music collection of any audiophile.

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CD booklet cover

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CD tray card

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CD disc label

In the 16-page booklet that accompanies the CD you will find production information as well as liner notes (written for the original 1982 LP recording) by Prof. Zack Bowen, author of Musical Allusions in the Works of James Joyce and one of the leading authorities on Joyce's use of music. These notes explain the significance of each piece and show how song came to form a major thematic element in Joyce's works by the time he wrote Ulysses. (The notes provided in the Selected Songs — CD #1 section of this Web site are brand new and greatly expand upon Prof. Bowen's original commentary.)

The programme consists of songs that are among the most familiar in the Joyce canon and includes such titles as "Love's Old Sweet Song" and "The Low-back'd Car" (from Ulysses); "I Dreamt That I Dwelt in Marble Halls" (mentioned several times in Dubliners); and "Oft in the Stilly Night" (composed by Thomas Moore and used by Joyce in a stirring scene in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man).

Yet this is no mere academic exercise: the performers on the CD know their material well and interpret it with feeling, affection, and an appreciation of its own artistic integrity. The concert reflects Joyce's own eclectic use of music in his works and offers a rich variety of contemporary musical settings of the author's own words along with performances of light opera and classical pieces, romantic love songs, popular ballads, sentimental ditties, religious music, and comic music hall turns — all presented in an authentic turn-of-the-century style to which Joyce (and the characters in his books) would have responded enthusiastically.

This CD was digitally remastered using the original tapes from the 1982 studio recording to ensure the highest-quality sound reproduction; but it also features four bonus tracks not included on the 1982 LP. The album was released in January 2004 to coincide with the Bloomsday centenary year.


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