James Joyce and Music Jiyeon Park James Joyce the ... Musician? Though he made his mark on the world as a brilliant writer, he almost was a musician. His books are full of the deep knowledge and affection for music with which he grew up and which stayed with him all his life.
Though he made his mark on the world as a brilliant writer, he almost was a musician.
His books are full of the deep knowledge and affection for music with which he grew up and which stayed with him all his life.
Joyce's training and skill in making music, and even his love and appreciation of music of all types influenced his writing at his career.
He attended whichever parish church was nearby, more as an excuse to sing in the choir than to attend to his soul.
Music was a magnificent extension of his own grandiose character and dreams.
Like John Joyce, James Joyce was a follower of opera and music theater. John Joyce had a song for every occasion, and would sing it on that occasion.
From an early age he took singing lessons and more than once flirted with making it a career.
Wherever he lived he tried to have a piano in the house, and he sang all his life, at home. Sometimes he sang all day at home, driving his neighbors crazy.
His first book of poems was called "Chamber Music."
Joyce’s interest involved more than collecting the singer’s records and attending concerts.
Joyce read all the newspaper accounts of McCormack's doings, his love affairs, his tennis playing, his way of dressing and his curly
The two artists had known each other since their Dublin days and shared a concert stage in 1904. After both had left Ireland, they met on several occasions.
McCormack’s success as a singer and his wealth may have inspired feelings of rivalry and jealousy in Joyce. McCormack's Irishness was especially clear in his performance of many traditional Irish songs and ballads.
McCormack encouraged James Joyce to be a singer offering to be his teacher. In the end, Joyce declined to follow that path, but he
remained an concertgoerand later became friends with the
modernist composer George Antheil.
Joyce read Pierre V.R. Key's John McCormack. His Own Life Story
(1918) in order to update and supplement his knowledge of the
Later in life (1929) Joyce
heard and met John Sullivan, an Irish tenor in the
Joyce became a promoter of Sullivan, arranging meetings with any and all musicians of the day, including Thomas Beecham.
He was convinced that established cliques were working
against Sullivan, so Joyce helped
him to get adequate recognition.
This campaign began in
November 1929 until 1931.
It gradually became clear to
Joyce and to Sullivan, that the voice was losing some of its quality, but Joyce continued to work up interest in his
In 1929, Giorgio initiated a singing
career thus continuing the Joyce
musical line. In December, 1930, he married Helen Fleischman, a rich American.
Thomas McGreevy, an intimate friend of Helen assisted Joyce with "Work in Progress" (Finnegans Wake).
Later, Giorgio became an alcoholic.
Joyce loved Lucia, spoiled her, sang to her, but only when he had time.
When Lucia was fifteen, she began taking dance lessons, mostly of the new, anti-balletic, and this became her
main interest during her teens and
Lucia was a professional dancer.
Nora nagged Lucia to give up dancing. As for Joyce, “it was unseemly for women to get on the stage
and wave their arms about.”
Bid Adieu to Girlish Days
Musical arrangement by
words and air by James Joyce
From Chamber Music
by James Joyce
Bid adieu, adieu, adieu,*Bid adieu to girlish days,Happy Love is come to wooThee and woo thy girlish ways —The zone that doth become thee fair,The snood upon thy yellow hair.
When thou hast heard his name uponThe bugles of the cherubimBegin thou softly to unzoneThy girlish bosom unto himAnd softly to undo the snoodThat is the sign of maidenhood.
Brigid's Song"Dingdong! The Castle Bell“ Music by David Diamond
LyricsBrigid's Song Dingdong!
The castle bell!Farewell, my mother!Bury me in the old churchyardBeside my eldest brother.My coffin shall be black,Six angels at my back,Two to sing and two to prayAnd two to carry my soul away.
This piece appears in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,
where a very young Stephen Dedalus quotes it, thinking in his
sick bed how sweet and sad the words are and how sentimental his own funeral is likely to be.
It is one of the first indications
of Stephen's preoccupation with sounds and words.
Nationalist songs, Child balladsIrish folk music, British patriotic songs
Royal anthems, Music hall songsSailors' shanties, soldiers' garrulityNursery rhymes, schoolyard inventionsstreet songs, begging musicShakespeare,
Sacred music (Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Jewish
evangelical anthems, revivalist expressions
Songs in different languages, Italian, French, German, Irish, Latin, etc.
Van Morrison wrote the following summary of Joyce's career, "James Joyce wrote streams of consciousness books", in his song 'Summertime
Van identifies with Joyce and in his song 'Too Long In Exile' he compares himself with
the great writer when he says, "Been too long in exile /
Just like James Joyce, Baby".
Syd Barrett had previously taken,
"Lean out of the window, Golden Hair",
from Joyce's 1907 poem 'Chamber Music' and used it as the first line for his song 'Golden Hair‘ in 1969.
Fire Records album released 'James Joyce Chamber Music Project' in June 2008,
involving artists such as Mercury Rev, Peter Buck, Lee Ranaldo and Jeff Tweedy
Each artist was given one of the 36 verses from 'Chamber Music' and asked to set it to music.