Title page of the Broderip & Wilkinson Compositions of Carolan book

Broderip & Wilkinson, the Compositions of Carolan

One of the source books used by Donal O’Sullivan for his Carolan in 1958 is the enthusiastically titled A Favourite Collection of the so much admired old Irish Tunes, the original and genuine compositions of Carolan, the celebrated Irish Bard. Set for the harpsichord, violin, and German-flute, published by John Lee in Dublin. There is no date on this book, and O’Sullivan suggests 1780.

I have never actually seen a copy of this John Lee edition used by Donal O’Sullivan; I assume it is this one at the National Library of Ireland (though the catalogue says it is lacking its title page). On my Sources page at earlygaelicharp.info I listed other editions or reprints of this book, of which there seem to be rather a lot. None of them are dated and no-one seems to know which was first, or who was responsible for assembling and editing the collection. My understanding is that at this time there was no copyright in Ireland, so as soon as a book was published, other publishers could rattle off their own editions.

Southampton University Library uploaded a large combined album of sheet music to archive.org three and a half years ago, but I never saw it up until now. Buried in the middle of a whole load of piano scores is the Broderip & Wilkinson edition of our book. They seem to have been active from around 1799 to 1808; The NLI catalogue suggests this edition was published c.1804.

There are “issues” with this edition. Perhaps most pressingly, Broderip and Wilkinson don’t give the tune names, only numbers. Even more irritatingly, they have changed the order of the tunes so they don’t even match the numbering scheme I have been using based on the Hime edition.

I will go into my Carolan Tunes Collation Spreadsheet and add a column for the B&W numbers, so that you can navigate your way around the facsimile.

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