Brian Boydell: A Centenary Display

Brian Boydell 1917-2000

Brian Boydell 1917-2000

Born in Dublin on 17th March 1917, Brian Boydell became one of the most influential figures in Irish cultural life from the 1940s until his death on 8th November 2000. After studies at Heidelberg, Cambridge, and London, Boydell embarked on a multi-faceted career as composer, conductor, singer, teacher, broadcaster, academic researcher and writer. For many years he represented the interests of creative artists on the Arts Council. He was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Dublin (Trinity College) in 1962, and developed the School of Music to the point that it became a fully-fledged academic department in 1974.

Brian Boydell: A terrible beauty, op. 59

Brian Boydell: A terrible beauty, op. 59

Notwithstanding his date of birth (St Patrick’s Day), in his approach to composition Boydell believed that self-conscious reliance on folk music idioms to denote Irishness was a cul-de-sac; instead national character would emerge naturally from the composer’s engagement with the cultural environment in which he lived.

Map of Dublin Music Venues c.1790

Map of Dublin Music Venues c.1790

To mark the centenary of his birth a selection of items from the Boydell archive (TCD MS 11128) is on display in the Long Room until the end of July, and a special conference will be held in the Trinity Long Room Hub and the Royal Irish Academy of Music on 23-24 June. As well as several of Boydell’s compositions, the display includes items which represent his musicological research, his participation in the Arts Council and Aosdána, his career as a performer and director of ensembles, and his deep immersion in the life of the College.

An online exhibition, in collaboration with The Google Cultural Institute will follow.

Roy Stanley

 

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Seachtain na Gaeilge 2017 sa Seomra Fada

TCD MS 10878/L/2/1 Cré na Cille (An chéad eagrán, 1949)

TCD MS 10878/L/2/1
Cré na Cille (An chéad eagrán, 1949)

Beidh taispeántas beag lámhscríbhinní Chré na Cille le Máirtín Ó Cadhain le feiceáil sa Seomra Fada, Leabharlann Choláiste na Tríonóide, ar feadh Seachtain na Gaeilge 2017 (1-17ú Márta). Tá cóip phearsanta Chré na Cille an gCadhnach le fheiceáil – an chéad eagrán atá i gceist – agus an leabhar lán le ceartúcháin i lámh an gCadhanach. Foilsíodh an dara chló i 1965. Seans go raibh sé i gceist go gcuirfí na h-athraithe sin isteach sa dara chló, ach níor cuireadh.

Chomh maith leis an leabhar, tá dréacht-leathanaigh ceartaithe ó Chré na Cille i lámh an gCadhanach. Is féidir na héagsúlachtaí téacsúil idir an t-eagrán a foilsíodh agus an dréacht a fheicéail, agus mar sin is féidir a stíl scríbhneoireachta a thabhairt faoi deara.

Buailaigí isteach!

Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin

Translating a Hebrew Prophet into Greek: TCD MS 29 and its author.

On a recent visit to Trinity College Library, Dublin, I consulted TCD MS 29, briefly described as ‘Liber Danielis Prophetae, Graece, (Book of the Prophet Daniel, in Greek) a modern version dedicated to Queen Elizabeth’, but with no identification of its author. Examining the manuscript more closely, both the distinctive Greek hand and its content enabled me to identify it as one of only two surviving copies of the English Hebraist Hugh Broughton’s (1549-1612) translation of the Book of Daniel into Greek, which he composed in the 1580s. Both TCD MS 29 and the other extant copy (British Library, Royal MS 1 A IX are autograph but TCD MS 29 appears to be a fairer copy, with fewer corrections.

TCD MS 29, folio 1r

TCD MS 29, folio 1r

Broughton is best known today for translating the Bible into English. However, many important and influential nobles and statesmen were interested in Broughton’s Greek rendering of the book of Daniel: as well as being dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, Broughton presented a copy to William Cecil, Lord Burghley. Henry Hastings, 3rd earl of Huntingdon, admired the work so much that he asked Broughton to undertake a Greek translation of the entire Hebrew Bible!

Broughton’s project generated such interest because one of the most valuable tools for understanding the Old Testament was an ancient Greek translation known as the Septuagint, translated from the Hebrew by Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria around the third century BCE. Biblical scholars had long noticed that the New Testament tended to cite the Old Testament through this Septuagint translation, rather than by a direct translation of the original Hebrew. In the eyes of many early moderns, including Broughton, this New Testament stamp of authority meant that the Septuagint was important in bridging the gap between the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament, and a crucial aid in the comprehension of both texts.

However, the Septuagint itself was problematic, diverting extensively from the Hebrew Bible. This was an especial problem for the book of Daniel, and was compounded by the book’s inherent difficulty, jumping between Hebrew and Aramaic and veiling its most important prophecies in its most difficult prose. As such, to scholars like Broughton it seemed that in many of the places where the Hebrew Bible was most challenging the Septuagint was least helpful. In this respect, Broughton’s Greek translation of Daniel, which drew on the vocabulary, style and lexical features of Septuagint Greek while attending more closely to the Hebrew original, was intended to provide a valuable hermeneutic tool for biblical exegesis.

Despite the initial excitement it provoked, Broughton’s work never lived up to the hopes men like Cecil had for it. Instead, a series of bitter confessional controversies, beginning in the late 1580s, reduced him to an object of ridicule, and forced him into near-permanent exile. A disappointingly small number of his papers and letters have survived to modernity. Those that do remain are scattered, partial and often anonymous, although we can now add TCD MS 29 to that slim corpus.

Kirsten Macfarlane, Lincoln College, Oxford

Crossed lines

 

Portrait of John D'Alton © National Gallery of Ireland

Portrait of John D’Alton
© National Gallery of Ireland

Trinity Library has 279 personal letters of John D’Alton (1792-1867) and his wife Catherine, spanning forty years of married life. Craig D’Alton, who visited us from Australia, is a descendant. In this guest blog, he writes about the value of the published letters to the research community:

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Diversity and similitude in Middle English Ten Commandments texts

TCD MS 70, folio 144r

Religious miscellanies feature prominently among the Library’s holdings of Middle English manuscripts. Intended as manuals for religious instruction, they frequently contain texts of and commentaries on the Ten Commandments. A survey and analysis of the content and contexts of selected examples suggest that the creation of a flowing effect, whereby the various instructions almost ‘bleed’ into one another, was part of their aesthetic. Thus, the texts are arranged in order to suggest a way of reading whereby the reader becomes deeply familiar with essential religious knowledge. Contrasts in these texts shed light on a vibrant and heterogeneous creative culture of religious instruction, wherein a range of audiences and communities of readers engaged with catechetical material during the late medieval and early modern period.

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