[Sir] John Stevenson

CommentaryReferences

Life
1761-1833 [John Andrew Stevenson]; b. Dublin, prolific composer; chorister, and later vicar-choral at St. Patrick’s and Christ Church, Dublin; Doctor of Music, TCD 1791; knighted 1803; provided scores for John Atkinson’s Love in a Blaze (1800); best-known for his collaboration with Thomas Moore in adapting Bunting’s music for the Irish Melodies (1808-33); d. 14 Sept. Headfort House, Kells, Co. Meath, the seat of his son-in-law, the Marquess of Headfort; the accompaniments for Power’s edition of Moore’s Irish Melodies were continued by Henry Bishop at his death; there is a commemorative window by Ballantine of Edinburgh in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and a life by J. Bumpus. ODNB DIB

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Criticism
J[ohn Skelton] Bumpus, Sir John Stevenson: A Biographical Sketch (London: T. B. Bumpus 1893), [12] 75pp., music & port.; incls. “The Dublin cathedral organs” [pp.69-75].

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Commentary
Thomas Moore (1): Moore wrote of Stevenson: ‘He who, if aught of grace there be, / In the wild notes I write or sing, / First smooth’d their links of harmony, / And lent them charms they did not bring; / He of the gentlest, simplest hear / With whom, employed in his sweet art / (That art which gives this world of ours / A notion how they speak in Heaven), / I’ve passed more bright and charmed hours/Than all earth’s wisdom could have given.’

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Thomas Moore (2): commenting on the republication of Bunting’s collection, Moore writes that he himself frequently ‘ventured in these very allowable liberties’ [of changing the original] and that Sir John was entirely innocent of them.’ (Diary entry for 15-17 July 1840, in Memoirs, Journals, and Correspondence, II, 278; see Welch, Irish Poetry from Moore to Yeats, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980, p.299.)

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References
Belfast Public Library holds J[ohn Skelton] Bumpus, Sir John Stevenson (1893).

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Notes
Love in a Blaze: Stevenson also provided music for John Atkinson's Love in a Blaze (1800). See Irish Book Lover, 11.

Style of Hadyn: According to a BBC 3 broadcast at Christmas 1996, Stevenson’s settings of Moore’s songs are in the style of Hadyn.

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