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James Joyce in Paris, 1939, holding a cane James Joyce: Music in the Novels and Poems
Artwork for inside pages of booklet

James Joyce Quote
Now then, our Glory Song!
James Joyce Unquote

[ Ulysses ]

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CD: MORE Music from the Works of James Joyce

What's Inside

Cover of Glory Songs Album

Like our first CD, this album contains ALL-NEW performances of music composed to Joyce's words and period songs mentioned by him in his books. Below you can learn more about the contents of the album.

In the 24-page booklet that accompanies the CD you will find production information as well as liner notes by the tenor himself, Kevin McDermott.

Sample audio clips from the CD can be found here »

Learn more about the man on the cover »


"Words? Music? No : it's what's behind."


"According to the French poet, José Maria de Herèdia, 'La musique des poètes n'a aucun rapport avec la musique des musiciens.' Joyce was one of the comparatively few poets who were musical in the musician's sense. Yeats was tone deaf; so by deduction was Byron; so was Burns; but Joyce was gifted with a double ear, exquisite in both faculties. His first volume of poetry, Chamber Music, is one proof. The other is his success as a singer. Strange, almost incredible as it may seem now to his admirers, Joyce was more intent on becoming a singer than a writer."

So writes Oliver St. John Gogarty (Ulysses' Mulligan) in his essay James Joyce as a Tenor, in which he describes Joyce's voice in 1904 as "clarion clear and though high pitched...not at all strident" and opines, "I think that he derived more happiness from his voice than from his writing." Possibly; but that he was active both as a singer and as a writer throughout his entire life is a matter of record. His encyclopaedic knowledge of the music popular in his day, combined with a highly refined sensitivity to the often subtle meanings and social distinctions connected with or evoked by individual pieces of music or genres, allowed him to use music to great effect in his writing — and so he did, its structural importance increasing with each succeeding work.

This recording, complete in itself, forms a continuation of the work presented in Music from the Works of James Joyce (Sunphone Records, Catalog #61604). As with that first groundbreaking recording, this new CD contains voice-and-piano performances of popular songs from the period when Joyce was writing, and alluded to or mentioned by him in his various works — songs from broadside ballads to light opera, and many other genres. This is the music that is constantly flitting through the heads of his characters, and that often adds a key thematic dimension to the narratives. Listeners may be familiar with some of the songs — e.g., "Killarney" — however, in most cases, these songs have neither been recorded nor even heard for many decades. Now, for the first time, students of Joyce will actually be able to hear exactly what Joyce's characters are hearing and singing, presented in a performance style apropos to the period.

Listeners will also hear more modern compositions based on and inspired by Joyce's own words. Featured on this CD are selected songs by Ross Lee Finney (1906-1997), an American composer and one of the few to have set Joyce's early collection of poems, Chamber Music, in its entirety — and he successfully captures their inherent musical charm in these delightful settings. In addition, with "Nuvoletta," Samuel Barber (1910-1981) absorbs the essence of Joyce's verbal wordplay in Finnegans Wake and translates it into a musical equivalent, complete with a cyclic form, thematic repetition, comic quotation, multi-level puns, and a sheer joy in the sound of sound.

For Joyceans, this collection will be an invaluable resource and will serve to deepen their understanding and appreciation of Joyce's works. But for lovers of music for its own sake, these performances have a beauty all their own — we are confident that you will enjoy them thoroughly! (For a preview of the CD, don't forge to listen to the sample audio clips here.)

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CD booklet cover

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CD disc label

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Below is a complete list of the songs featured in this programme, along with notations indicating where those songs make an appearance in Joyce's works.

  1. "In the Shade of the Palm" (from Florodora)
  2. "O Twine Me a Bower"
    [A Portrait]
  3. "The Groves of Blarney"
    [A Portrait; Finnegans Wake]
  4. "Killarney" (from The Colleen Bawn)
    [Dubliners/"A Mother"; A Portrait]
  5. "Oh! Ye Dead"
    [Dubliners/"The Dead"]
  6. "Lilly Dale"
    [A Portrait]
  7. Suite of Stephen's Piano Improvisations:
    "Loath to Depart," "The Agincourt Carol," "Greensleeves"
    [A Portrait; Stephen Hero]
  8. "The Lass That Loves a Sailor"
    Suite from Chamber Music —
    Settings by Ross Lee Finney (1952):
  1. "Strings in the Earth and Air" (I)
  2. "The Twilight Turns from Amethyst" (II)
  3. "Bright Cap and Streamers" (X)
  4. "O, It Was Out by Donnycarney" (XXXI)
  5. "Love Came to Us in Time Gone By" (XXX)
  1. "My Lady's Bower"
  2. "What-Ho! She Bumps!
  3. "Shall I Wear a White Rose?"
  4. "In Old Madrid"
  5. Nuvoletta — by Samuel Barber (opus 25, 1947)
    [Musical setting of a passage from Finnegans Wake]
  6. "The Lost Chord"

Who IS That Fellow on the Cover of the CD?

John Alexander Dowie - in Suit
J.A. Dowie in a suit
(click to enlarge)

Strike up a ballad. Then outspake medical Dick to his comrade medical Davy. Christicle, who's this excrement yellow gospeller on the Merrion hall? Elijah is coming. Washed in the Blood of the Lamb. Come on, you winefizzling ginsizzling booseguzzling existences! Come on, you dog-gone, bullnecked, beetlebrowed, hogjowled, peanutbrained, weaseleyed fourflushers, false alarms and excess baggage! Come on, you triple extract of infamy! Alexander J Christ Dowie, that's my name that's yanked to glory most half this planet from 'Frisco Beach to Vladivostok. The Deity aint no nickel dime bumshow. I put it to you that He's on the square and a corking fine business proposition. He's the grandest thing yet and don't you forget it. Shout salvation in King Jesus. You'll need to rise precious early, you sinner there, if you want to diddle the Almighty God. Pflaaaap! Not half. He's got a coughmixture with a punch in it for you, my friend, in his backpocket. Just you try it on.

Ulysses (Ch. 14: Oxen of the Sun)

John Alexander Dowie - as Elijah
Dowie as "Elijah"
(click to enlarge)

John Alexander Dowie, the tutelary deity of this recording, was born in Edinboro' in 1847. A healing from chronic indigestion led to his growing activity as a faith healer; he ran healing services in a large tabernacle opposite Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show during the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. In 1896 he established the Christian Catholic Church and, in 1901, founded a true American theocracy: Zion, Illinois. At the height of his power Dowie was worth several million dollars and claimed 50,000 followers. In 1901 Dowie also proclaimed himself "Elijah the Restorer" and began to wear High-Priestly robes, causing dissension in his church. He was deposed in 1905 amid rumors of sexual and financial malfeasance, suffered a stroke, and died in 1907.

Although a minor character in Ulysses, Joyce clearly had a strong desire to include Dowie in his novel, for the evangelist was not in Dublin on June 16, 1904. The principal reason seems to be that, whereas Leopold Bloom only fantasizes about establishing the "New Bloomusalem," Dowie actually built his. Today about 3,000 Christians still describe themselves as "Dowieites." In the rest of the world, John Alexander Dowie is better remembered by Muslims (as a false prophet and enemy of Islam) than by Christians (as an early faith healer and forerunner of Pentecostalism); and also, of course, by Joyceans — for his guest appearance in Ulysses (he shows up variously in Lestrygonians, Wandering Rocks, Sirens, Oxen of the Sun, Circe, and Ithaca).

Read the complete biography of J.A. Dowie here »

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