chapter  10
12 Pages

For the Sake of the Union

The Nation in Stanford's Fourth Irish Rhapsody

This chapter contextualizes Stanford’s use of Irish folksong in concert music, and examines his beliefs about music's essential role in his concept of the British nation, principally the use of folksong in education. It reviews the politics of Irish home rule around 1914 and Stanford's place in them. In this anecdote Howells captures Stanford's disillusionment at the end of his life, which resulted partly from the partition of Ireland and the destruction of his Unionist political vision. Stanford's form of Irishness, embracing the inseparable union of Ireland and Great Britain in a United Kingdom, and his later defence of Ulster against Irish home rule, meant that his political sympathies were decidedly conservative. It examines the Irish Rhapsody as a manifesto of Stanford's feelings about home rule and its effect on his homeland, not just through the oft-referenced origin of the folksongs used, but in the literary content of these songs and the way Stanford presents them.