Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Blake set to music—T. L. Hately

Donald Fitch, writing in 1990, suggested that
[t]he earliest person to suggest a Blake text for music was apparently … the Unitarian minister James Martineau, who, in about 1874 proposed the text “Can I see another’s woe” for use as a hymn; two years later Doyne Courtenay Bell made the first art-song setting of this text (xxi).
For many years this latter work
Doyne Courtney Bell, 1831-1888.—On Another’s Sorrow; song for voice and piano.—London: R. Mills & Sons, 1876.—4 p. (Fitch no 96)
remained the earliest known setting. But it now appears that the first published musical setting for any work by Blake (though slightly adjusted as to wording) is “Chimney Sweeper’s Song” (from Innocence), on pages 128-129 of The Illustrated Book of Songs for Children (London, etc., 1863). The composer is Thomas Legerwood Hately, not named on the title-page, but who, as noted in the preface, “has kindly provided a number of new airs, and revised the whole” (vi).