The Music of Michael William Balfe

Today is the birth­day of Irish Vic­to­ri­an com­pos­er Michael William Balfe (1808–70), a pro­lif­ic and lead­ing com­pos­er in Ire­land and beyond dur­ing his life­time.

Today, Balfe is best known for his opera The Bohemi­an Girl (chiefly known today, per­haps, as a result of the revival by Enya of the song “I Dreamed I Dwelt in Mar­ble Halls”, although the album cred­it­ed the piece as “Tra­di­tion­al”.)

After a short career as a vio­lin­ist, Balfe pur­sued an oper­at­ic singing career, while he began to com­pose. In a career span­ning more than 40 years, he com­posed 38 operas, almost 250 songs and oth­er works. He was also a not­ed con­duc­tor, direct­ing Ital­ian Opera at Her Majesty’s The­atre for sev­en years, among oth­er con­duct­ing posts. Learn more about him here.

In the pro­gramme today we’ll be hear­ing high­lights from The Bohemi­an Girl, Fal­staff and oth­er of Balfe’s operas, along with a selec­tion of his songs and also a lit­tle of the work of con­tem­po­rary Irish com­posers — along with oth­er music of the peri­od.

Zee­ber Gold

Then at 11am or 7pm Pacif­ic Time (19:00 or 03:00 UK time), tune in for the lat­est in our 1970s inter­view series with the movers and shak­ers of the time from ZBS Foun­da­tion — Zee­ber Gold. This week, it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing 3‑part inter­view with Jer­ry Gar­cia of the Grate­ful Dead. Say ZBS: “This inter­view is a bit eerie, almost gives me the creeps. It was record­ed in 1970, and among the things that Jer­ry Gar­cia is talk­ing about, in fact the main focus here, is the envi­ron­ment. Speak about Green?! I mean, wow, what he’s talk­ing about is what’s hap­pen­ing now. In fact, it sounds like it could have been record­ed yes­ter­day, or maybe even tomor­row. It’s sure nice to hear his gen­tle voice. A very wise, kind per­son indeed. We miss him.”

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin and you can hear it now, by click­ing on this link if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to launch a play­er direct­ly. Alter­na­tive­ly, plug into your play­er. If you’re lis­ten­ing in the Unit­ed States, please lis­ten to us on Loud­C­i­ty.


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