Editions of Stevenson's setting for "Fly not yet"
Sir John Stevenson's setting of Moore's lyrics to "Fly not yet" is shown here in thirteen exemplars published between 1808 and 1880. Presented chronologically, the items in this gallery reveal how the music changes appearance (through the actions of different engravers) and substance (through the actions of different editors). Until circa 1820, Moore assumed the role of proof reader -- although he was not assured enough to catch all the musical errors that went to press. His published correspondence includes circa 1000 exchanges with James Power, many of which lament mistakes he discovers or reveal his desire to change small details (usually to do with the text).
William and James Power employed distinct production teams, including the 'printer's devils' who engraved the pewter plates which formed the musical score. London 1808 and Dublin 1808 display distinct calligraphical styles in their titles and also in the instruction, "Lively". In the lyrics we find commas after "hour" and "glowing" in London 1808 that are lacking in Dublin 1808. Further variants regarding the use of commas are seen across the exemplars in this gallery. Where the same publisher is involved, this would not require new engraved plates, as local alterations could be made. Regarding the music notation, London 1808 is unique for presenting the grace notes in bars 5-6 of the piano introduction as semiquavers.
James Power's solo edition of 1825 is the first to cancel the illogical tie that had previously been placed between bars 6 and 7 in the top line. By this stage, he was employing a 'Mr Benison' (presumably T. Bennison, formerly a pupil of Michael Kelly) as an editor. Power's production of "Fly not yet" as a piece of sheet music in 1729 is evidently from different plates, as is signalled by the number at the foot of the page (centre). The style of the title is notably distinct; the layout has changed (reduced to five bars per stave as opposed to eight); some small slurs have been added (bars 2 and 4). Addison & Hodson, who took over the copyright on James Powers's death, evidently re-used his 1825 plates for their 1840 issue of the first number.
Francis Robinson's editions have a distinctive appearance; one of the most striking aspects of their engraving style is the curly bass clef. He was careful to correct any notational errors, and to present the music and text with clarity. The Longmans edition of 1859 is remarkable for the altered piano introduction; it also displays a correction to the bass of the piano in the penultimate bar (James Power's edition has what are described as 'parallel fifths' -- not viewed as desireable in this style); some expression markings have been added. John William Glover, when editing the harmonized air, ensures that the 'g's' in both the vocal and piano lines are sharpened (Stevenson neglected to add a sharp to the 'g' in his piano part). The London Printing and Publishing Company's 1880 edition has an unnamed editor who adds dynamic markings (see bars 1 and 9). The presence of musical or notational errors, as well as an absence of expressive markings, in the original series reflects the lack of a firm editorial procedure, as well as the relative disengagement of Stevenson, who certainly possessed the technical skills to compose and notate correctly.
The sheer number of editions we have for Stevenson's setting of these lyrics reflects the popularity of the Irish Melodies as a series, as well as the appeal of this particular song. His prominence on the Dublin music scene was arguably a stimulus for the editions of Robinson and also Glover, who largely ignore the settings (of other songs) by Henry Bishop.