GIST: An Italian Violinist in Eighteenth-Century Ireland: Francesco Geminiani

When:12 Mar 2013, 6pm - 7:30pm
Venue:Room 327 Robert Webster Building, UNSW, Kensington Campus
Who:Professor Barra Boydell, Co-editor of 'The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland'

GLOBAL IRISH STUDIES TALKS (GIST) 2012 SERIES

Professor Barra Boydell - Co-editor of 'The Encyclopedia of Music in Ireland'

Francesco Geminiani, who died in Dublin in 1762, was the most high-profile Italian violinist and composer to have lived and worked in Ireland. This talk looks at Geminiani’s activities in Ireland and examines how his posthumous reputation moulded debates about the relative merits of Irish music (notably that of the harp tradition epitomised by Turlough Carolan) compared to the fashionable Italian and European musical styles. These debates about Ireland’s cultural heritage within a European context fed into the emergence of cultural nationalism in Ireland during the nineteenth century.

Barra Boydell, who retired as Professor of Music History at the National University of Ireland Maynooth in 2010 and now lives near Sydney, is acknowledged as one of the leading authorities on the history of music in Ireland. He is general editor with Harry White of the Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland which will be published later in 2013, and his other books include Music and Paintings at the National Gallery of Ireland (1985), Music at Christ Church before 1800: Documents and Selected Anthems (1998), A History of Music at Christ Church Cathedral Dublin (2004) and Music, Ireland and the Seventeenth Century, co-edited with Kerry Houston (2009). He is an Honorary Life Member of the Society for Musicology in Ireland.

Reception 6.00-6.30pm, Lecture 6.30-7.30p

Contact Details

RSVP: Friday 8 March 2013 | Telephone: 02 9385 7164 | Email: irish@unsw.edu.au


The Global Irish Studies Talks (GIST) series remains a popular fixture in the GISC calendar. In the latest GIST held on 12 March 2013 Professor Barra Boydell spoke on 'An Italian Violinist in Eighteenth-Century Ireland: Francesco Geminiani, Irish Music and the Emergence of Cultural Nationalism.'

Retired Professor of Music History at the National University of Ireland Maynooth, and general editor of the Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland (UCD Press, forthcoming 2013), Professor Boydell is acknowledged as one of the leading authorities on the history of music in Ireland. In a GIST full of rich scholarly detail, Prof Boydell introduced Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani, a key member of the internatinal cohort of musicians living and working in Georgian Dublin's thriving concert-hall culture. Geminiani's posthumous reputation shaped Irish debates about the relative merits of traditional Irish music (notably the harp tradition epitomised by Turlough Carolan) compared to European styles. In the conflict of 'folk' versus 'fashion', in other words, Geminiani's music was invoked as the benchmark against which to validate the cultural nationalist turn and the revival, in the nineteenth-century, of the harp, fiddle, pipes and traditional Irish song.

Watch the talk here on UNSWTV


The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland has been officially launched in Dublin by the President Michael D Higgins on 4 October 2013. 

University College Dublin news article and UCD Press website

Transcript of the President's speech

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