chapter  7
18 Pages

“All her lovely companions are faded and gone”

How “The Last Rose of Summer” Became Europe’s Favourite Irish Melody
WithAxel Klein

This chapter demonstrates the immense increase in popularity of Irish folk song that occurred as a consequence of the successive publication of the various numbers of Thomas Moore's Selection of Irish Melodies from 1808, particularly among composers with little or no connection to Ireland or Britain. Before Moore, there was no arrangement of an Irish folksong by a European composer without any connection to the then United Kingdom. It seems surprising that a German composer working at various times in Austria, France, and Germany should be the vehicle for the popularisation of an Irish folksong without having consciously chosen the tune for its Irish provenance. The reason why German composer Friedrich von Flotow chose an Irish tune as a specimen for a folksong in an English operatic plot can only be explained with the general ignorance in central Europe about the distinctions between the peoples of the British Isles.