This amazing document is a photocopy of a March 18, 1908 program for the 124th Annual Gala for The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for which Victor Herbert selected the musical offerings listed on the second page of the program and then arranged and had his copyist prepare the six songs included at the end of the program. Note the various speakers. It was certainly a fine evening. This is a very rare document never published as a piece of music. The music is very readable but handwritten.
The songs consist of six of Thomas Moore’s Irish Melodies with words also by Moore in a truly lovely work saluting the infamous “bards” of Ireland. It includes a wonderful esssagy by Herbert on the topic of the “bard” – a professional poet – usually a harpist in Ireland – employed by a patron, such as a monarch or nobleman, to commemorate the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own activities. The songs themselves were primarily aural traditions being passed down from generation to generation without the benefit of a written trail. Bards carried their small, compact Irish harps whenever they journeyed and sang of family, love, war and death to whomever cared to listen, which is exactly what this beautiful cycle celebrates. While we have not found an orchestration for this lovely work, the harps of Erin can be clearly heard in the piano accompaniment of all six songs.
The songs include: "The Minstrel Boy," "Remember the glories of Brien the brave...," "Lament," "Believe me," "Tho' the last glimpse...," "The harp that once..."
Bards of Ireland - sample