Introduction to the Exhibition
Functioning as an agent of cultural identity, the idea or concept of nationalism played a significant role in nineteenth-century Europe. This was reflected across the arts, particularly music, including genres such as opera, programmatic instrumental music and romantic national song. Composers drew inspiration from the music of their native lands and beyond.
This exhibition provides a survey of selected national airs published in nineteenth-century Europe. The focus of the exhibition is the chronological and geographical dissemination of Thomas Moore's National Airs. Owing to the success of his Irish Melodies and engagement with the music of other nations Thomas Moore was a significant figure in terms of the articulation of cultural identity. The exhibition also features national airs by Beethoven, Czerny and Jones. These composers were chosen on the basis that they contextualise Moore's contribution to the European national airs movement.
The exhibition brings together early printed music sources from Special Collections & Archives, Queen's University Belfast and the British Library Music Collections. It includes digitised copies of title pages, illustrations and musical works from nineteenth-century printed editions of national airs by these composers. All sources included in the exhibition were published during the period 1811-1839, falling within the larger time frame of project ERIN which encompasses the years 1808-1880. The end date of 1880 marks the decline in popularity of European 'national airs'. The exhibition facilitates bibliographic studies, those interested in reception studies and the ninteenth-century publishing industry.