chapter  5
13 Pages

“Give them life by singing them about”

Moore’s Musical Performances in the English Drawing Room
WithJoanne Burns

Thomas Moore's celebrated and charismatic performances of the Irish Melodies in the drawing-rooms and salons of London's literary and social elite was one of the factors which contributed to their immense popularity. The live performances of Moore's songs need to be treated as another kind of 'text', albeit, one that is ultimately unrecoverable. The contemporary accounts of Moore's performances from American poet Nathaniel Parker Willis, author Sydney Smith, and composer William Gardiner display enthusiasm, admiration, and the sentimentality and poignancy that became so ubiquitous with Moore's singing and wider career. Political implications of Moore's songs are to be found, however, in a performance context – particularly in terms of perceived links between music and sentiment. Ultimately, his song's ambiguity was one factor that made the Melodies so popular, and through his performances of them Moore successfully roused his English audiences to lament for Ireland.