Michael William Balfe

(* Dublin 1808, † Rowney Abbey, Herts. 1870)

 

Balfe was born in Pitt Street, now Balfe Street, Dublin, at a time, when the "golden era" of Anglo-Irish music was just over, but could still be felt. He grew up in Wexford, but was sent to Dublin for tuition after his talents had been discovered. His earliest teacher was the Irish composer William O'Rourke (or Rooke, 1794-1847). After the death of his father in 1823 he moved to England, where he began to sing in operas and play violin in various orchestras. Further tuition and musical engagements led him to Rome (1825), Milan, Paris, and several Italian opera stages until 1833, when he returned to England. He became the most prominent and most successful composer of English-language operas in the 19th century, only to be rivalled by his fellow-countryman, Vincent Wallace (and later in the century by Gilbert & Sullivan). His first British success was The Siege of Rochelle (1835), followed by The Maid of Artois (1836), The Bohemian Girl (1843) and The Rose of Castile (1857). Many of his song compositions became successful, too; By Killarney's Lakes (1862) still having a folk-song-like popularity in south-west Ireland. He also wrote a symphony, two cantatas and some chamber music.

 

Recorded Works:

 

The Siege of Rochelle (1835) opera
Excerpts:

- Overture

Somm Célèste SOMMCD 0123, CD (2013): Victorian Opera Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).
- 'Twas in that Garden Beautiful
Melba 301082, CD (2000): Deborah Riedel (S), Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).

- When I Beheld the Anchor Weigh'd
British Music Society BMS 422, CD (1998): Campbell Russell (T), John Talbot (pf).

 

Sempre pensoso e torbido (c. 1835) S, hn, pf
Opera Rara ORR 227, CD (2003): Manuela Custer (S), Richard Bissill (hn), David Harper (pf).

 

The Blighted Flower (c. 1835), v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

The Maid of Artois (1836) opera
Campion Records Cameo 2042-43, 2CD (2005): Kay Jordan (S), Stephen Anthony Brown (T), Jonathan Pugsley (Bar), John Molloy (B), Victorian Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Philip Mackenzie (cond).

Excerpts:
- The Rapture Dwelling in my Heart

- Yon Moon o'er the Mountain
Melba 301082, CD (2000): Deborah Riedel (S), Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).

- The Heart that Fondly Teems

- The Light of other Days

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Kay Jordan (S), Peter Dempsey (T), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

Falstaff (1838) opera
RTÉ lyricfm CD 119, 2CD (2008): Marcel Vanaud (Bar), Majella Cullagh (S), Sam McElroy (Bar), Barry Banks (T), National Chamber Choir of Ireland, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Marco Zambelli (cond).

Excerpt:
- Vorrei parlar, ma L'ira
Opera Rara ORR 221, CD (2002): Elisabetta Scano (S), Elena Monti (S), Adriana Cicogna (Mez), anonymous orchestra, David Parry (cond).

 

A Home in the Heart (c. 1840) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

A Simple Rose (c. 1840) v, pf

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Kay Jordan (S), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

I'd Rather Be a Village Maid (c. 1840) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

Le Crépuscule (1841) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

Le Puits d'amour (1843), opera
Excerpts:

- Overture
WRW 201-2, CD (2000): Alderley Festival Orchestra, Peter England (cond).

Somm Célèste SOMMCD 0123, CD (2013): Victorian Opera Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).

- Rèves d'amour, rèves de gloire
Decca 440 679-2DH, CD (1993): Sumi Jo (S), English Chamber Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).

 

The Bohemian Girl (1843), opera
Historical Recording Enterprises HRE 267-3, LP (c. 1975, recorded 1962): Elizabeth Rust (S), Edward Byles (T), anonymous orchestra, R.B. Kealy (cond) [no other performers mentioned].

VOCE-17, 3LP (1978): Leigh Munro (S), Vinson Cole (T), Will Roy (Bar), Alice Garrott (Mez), Peter Strummer (B), William Martin (T), Central City Opera Festival Orchestra and Chorus, Paul Polivnik (cond).

Argo 433 324-2, 2CD (1991): Nova Thomas (S), Patrick Power (T), Jonathan Summers (Bar), Bernadette Cullen (Mez), John del Carlo (B), Timothy German (T), RTÉ Philharmonic Choir, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Richard Bonynge (cond).

Excerpts:
- Overture

- The Heart Bow'd Down

- I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls

- When Other Lips and Other Hearts

- Waltz

- Love Smiles but to Deceive

- Galop.
EMI CSD 3651, LP (1968): Veronica Dunne (S), Uel Deane (T), Eric Hinds (Bar), anonymous orchestra, Havelock Nelson (cond).

- Introduction [to Act III]

- When Other Lips and Other Hearts

- plus other mixed excerpts from Act III
Historical Recording Enterprises HRE 267-3, LP (c. 1975, recorded 1951): Roberta Peters (S), Anthony Marlowe (T), Howell Glynne (B), anonymous orchestra, Thomas Beecham (cond).

VOCE-17, 3LP (1978): same recording as HRE above.

- Galop
Lyrita SRCS 99, LP (1978): Philharmonia Orchestra, Nicholas Braithwaite (cond).

- I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls
Decca SET 247-8, LP (1963): Joan Sutherland (S), London Symphony Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).
Re-issued on Decca 425 048 2DX, CD (199?); Decca 425 850-2DWO, CD / -4DWO, MC (1993).
Griffin GC CD / MC 4009, CD / MC (1994): Patricia Sabin (S), Margaret Lion (pf).

- The Heart Bow'd Down
Pearl Gemm CDS 9059/61, 3CD (1994, recorded 1913): Henri Scott (Bar), Original Broadway Cast.

International Record Collectors Club IRCC-CD 810, CD (1994, record-ed 1927): Clarence Whitehill (Bar), anonymous orchestra.

- Then You'll Remember Me
Symposium 1163, CD (1996, recorded 1914): John McCormack (T), anonymous orchestra.

- When Other Lips and Other Hearts
Symposium SYMCD 1163, CD (1994, recorded 1914): John McCor-mack (T), anonymous orchestra.

Pearl Gemm CD 9319, CD (1989, recorded 1926): Heddle Nash (T), anonymous orchestra.

Kiwi-Pacific Records CDSLD-82. CD, (1994, recorded 1991): Patrick Power (T), National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Richard Bonynge (cond) (extract from complete Argo recording).

RCA Victor Red Seal 09026 68030-2, CD (1996): Jerry Hadley (T), English Chamber Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).

ASV CD AJA 5227, CD (1999) (same recording as Pearl Gemm above).

- Overture
Dutton Laboratories CDSJB 1999, 2CD (2000, recorded 1934): anonymous orchestra, John Barbirolli (cond).

- I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls

- When Other Lips and Other Hearts

- Love Smiles but to Deceive

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Kay Jordan (S), Peter Dempsey (T), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

Sventurata Ildegonda - Chiuso nell'Armi (1843) (Aria in Angelo Mariani's opera Ildegonda nel Carcere)
Decca SXL 6501, LP (1971): Huguette Tourangeau (Mez), L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Richard Bonynge (cond).

 

The Daughter of St. Mark (1844) opera
Rare Recorded Editions SRRE 141-2, 2LP (1974): Frances Black (S), Geoffrey Shovelton (T), Nigel Beavan (Bar), Malcolm King (B), Gala Opera Group, anonymous orchestra, Ken Jones (cond).

Excerpt:

- O Smile as Thou Wert Wont to Smile

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

Ladies, Fly from Love's Smooth Tale (c. 1845) 2B, pf
Arte Nova 74321 80788 2, CD (2001): Paul Arnim (Bar), Peter Edelmann (Bar), Phillip Moll (pf).

 

The Maid of Honour (1847) opera

Excerpt:

- In this Old Chair My Father Sat

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Peter Dempsey (T), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

I'm a Merry Zingara (c. 1850) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

O Take Me to Thy Heart Again (c. 1850) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

The Lonely Rose (c. 1850) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

Ah! Would that I Could Love Thee Less (1851), v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

Old Friends (1851) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

The Sicilian Bride (1852) opera

Excerpt:

- Flag of our Country

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Kay Jordan (S), Peter Dempsey (T), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

Hopeful Heart Should Banish Care (1854) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

Excelsior (c. 1855) T, Bar, pf/orch
B&C Records CAS 1078, LP (1973): Eric Schilling (T), John Brecknock (Bar), Antony Miall (pf).

Pearl Gemm 9455, CD (1991, recorded 1926): Malcolm McEachern (T), Harold Williams (Bar), Aeolian Orchestra.

Pearl Gemm 9989, CD (1992, recorded 1934): Tom Burke (T), Foster Richardson (Bar), anonymous orchestra.

 

Trust Her Not (c. 1855) S, Mez, pf
Centaur CRC 2075, CD (1990): Ellen Frohnmayer (S), Philip Frohn-mayer (Bar), Logan Skelton (pf).

EMI CDC7 54411-2, CD (1992): Felicity Lott (S), Ann Murray (Mez), Graham Johnson (pf).

 

Seven Poems by Longfellow (1856) v, pf

Excerpts:

- The Green Trees Whispered Low and Mild; The Reaper and the Flowers; Goodnight, Beloved

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Kay Jordan (S), Peter Dempsey (T), Guy Rowland (pf).

- The Green Trees Whispered Low and Mild

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

The Happiest Land (1856) v, pf

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Peter Dempsey (T), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

The Rose of Castile (1857), opera
Rare Recorded Editions RRE 191/2, 2LP (197?, recorded 1951): Maureen Springer (S), Angela O'Connor (Mez), James Cuthbert (B), Murray Dickie (T), Wexford Festival Chorus, Radio Éireann Light Orchestra, Dermot O'Hara (cond).

Excerpts:
- The Convent Cell
Melba 301082, CD (2000): Deborah Riedel (S), Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).

- 'Twas Rank and Fame
RCA Victor Red Seal 09026 68030-2, CD (1996): Jerry Hadley (T), English Chamber Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).

 

A Merry Little Savoyard (1857) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

Come into the Garden, Maud (1857) v, pf
ASV CD AJA 5119, CD (1993, recorded 1915): John McCormack (T), anonymous orchestra, Walter B. Rogers (cond).

Pearl Gemm CD 9112, CD (1994, recorded 1926): Walter Widdop (T), anonymous pianist.

Griffin GCCD 4009, CD/MC (1994): Graham Titus (Bar), Margaret Lion (pf).

Belart 461316-2, CD (1996): Stuart Burrows (T), John Constable (pf).

Dutton Laboratories CDLX 7031, CD (1999, recorded 193?): Heddle Nash (T), Gerald Moore (pf).

WRW 201-2, CD (2000): Tom Copeland (T), Jill Fogden (pf).

EMI Classics 7243 5 75926 2 8, 2CD (2002): Robert Tear (T), André Previn (pf).

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Peter Dempsey (T), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

Stars of the Summer Night (1857) v, pf

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Kay Jordan (S), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

The Arrow and the Song (1857) v, pf

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Peter Dempsey (T), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

The Rainy Day (1857) v, pf

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Peter Dempsey (T), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

The Two Locks of Hair (1857) v, pf

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Peter Dempsey (T), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

Satanella (1858) opera
Rare Recorded Editions RRE 173/4, 2LP (197?): Jasmine Tateossian (S), Stephanie Debret (S), Susan Devlin (A), David Flint (T), Jack Donert (Bar) et al, Addison Orchestra, Brian Galloway (cond).

Naxos 8.660378-9, 2CD (2016): Sally Silver (S), Catherine Carby (S), Christine Tocci (Mez), Elisabeth Sikora (Mez), Kang Wang (T), Quentin Hayes (Bar), Anthony Gregory (Bar), Frank Church (Bar), Trevor Bowes (B), John Powell Singers, Victorian Opera Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).

Excerpts:
- Oh Could I but His Heart Enslave

- There's a Power Whose Sway
Melba 301082, CD (2000): Deborah Riedel (S), Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).

- Our Hearts are not Our Own

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Kay Jordan (S), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

Don't let the Roses Listen (1858) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

Daybreak (1859) v, pf

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Kay Jordan (S), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies (arr. 1859) v, pf
Excerpts:

- Go where Glory Waits Thee; Remember the Glories of Brien the Brave; Erin! the Tear and the Smile; Oh! Breathe not his Name; When he who Adores thee; The Harp that once through Tara's Halls; Fly not yet, 'tis just the Hour; Oh! Think not my Spirits are always as Light; Though the Last Glimpse of Erin; Rich and Rare were the Gems she Wore; As a Beam o'er the Face of the Waters May Glow; The Meeting of the Waters; Oh! Haste, and Leave this Sacred Isle; How Dear to me the Hour; Take Back the Virgin Page; When in Death I Shall Calm Recline (The Legacy); How Oft has the Banshee Cried; We May Roam through this World; Oh! Weep for the Hour (Eveleen's Bower); Let Erin Remember the Days of Old; Silent, oh Moyle; Come, Send Round the Wine; Sublime was the Warning; Believe me if All those Endearing Young Charms; Erin, oh Erin!; Drink to her; Oh! Blame not the Bard; While Gazing on the Moon's Light; When Daylight was yet Sleeping (I and II); By the Hope within us Springing (After the Battle); Night Closed Round the Conqueror's Way; Oh! 'tis Sweet to Think; Through Grief and through Danger (The Irish Peasant to his Mistress); When through Life Unblest we Rove (On Music); It is not the Tear at this Moment Shed; 'Tis Believed that this Harp (The Origin of the Harp); Oh! the Days are Gone when Beauty Bright; Though Dark are our Sorrows (The Prince's Day); Weep on, Weep on; Lesbia hath a Beaming Eye; I Saw thy Form in Youthful Prime; By that Lake whose Gloomy Shore; She is Far from the Land; Nay, Tell me not; Avenging and Bright; What the Bee is to the Floweret; Here we Dwell in Holiest Bowers (Love and the Novice); This Life is all Chequer'd; Through Erin's Isle (The Shamrock); At the mid Hour of Night; One Bumper at Parting; 'Tis the Last Rose of Summer; The Young May Moon; The Minstrel Boy; The Valley Lay Smiling Before me (The Song of O'Ruark Prince of Breffni); Oh! Had we some Bright Little Isle; Farewell! But Whenever you Welcome the Hour; Oh! Doubt me not; You Remember Ellen; I'd Mourn the Hopes; Come o'er the Sea; Has Sorrow thy Young Days Shaded?; No, not more Welcome; When first I met thee; While History's Muse; The Time I've Lost in Wooing; Oh! Where's the Slave?; Come, Rest in this Bosom; 'Tis Gone, and for ever; I Saw from the Beach; Fill the Bumper Fair; Dear Harp of my Country; My Gentle Harp; As Slow our Ship; In the Morning of Life; When Cold in the Earth; Remember Thee!; Wreath the Bowl; Whene'er I See those Smiling Eyes; If thoul't be mine; To Ladies' Eyes; Forget not the Field; They may Rail at this Life (This Earth is the Planet); Oh for the Swords of Former Time!

Thomas Moore Festival TMF 2008.101-106, 6CD (2008): Singers: Andrew Boushell, Claudia Boyle, Anna Brady, Anna Louise Costello, Sarah Dolan, Máire Flavin, Richie Hayes, Ciaran Kelly, Katy Kelly, Rachel Kelly, Hannah Macauley, Raphaela Mangan, Niamh McCormack, Sarah McCourt, Ciara McMackin, Anne Murray, Aoife O'Sullivan, Dean Power, Gavan Ring, Ross Scanlon, Roisin Walsh. Pianists: Úna Hunt, Mairéad Hurley.
- The Harp that Once through Tara's Halls
EMI EX 290007 3, 2LP (1984, recorded 1930): John McCormack (T), Edwin Schneider (pf).

Arrangement for orchestra:
Symposium 1152, CD (1994, recorded 1926): John O'Sullivan (T), anonymous orchestra, Hamilton Harty (cond).

 

The Puritan's Daughter (1861) opera
Excerpt:
- Bliss for ever Past
Melba 301082, CD (2000): Deborah Riedel (S), Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).

 

By Killarney's Lakes (1862) v, pf
Pearl Gemm CD 9411, CD (1991, recorded in the 1920s): Tom Burke (T), anonymous orchestra.

Claremont CDESG 785058, CD (1995, recorded 1934): Richard Crooks (T), anonymous orchestra.

Nimbus NI 7854, CD (1993, recorded 1910): John McCormack (T), Victor Orchestra.

Romophone 82006-2, CD (1996) (same recording as above).

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

- Arrangement for choir and piano:
EMI CLP 3532, LP (1966): Feis Éireann Group of Singers, Eileen O'Grady (pf + cond).

- Arrangement for violin and orchestra:
Pearl Past CD 9744, CD (1991): Alfredo Campoli (vn), Raymonde Orchestra, Walter Goehr (cond).

- Arrangement for cornet and piano:
Crystal 450, CD (1996, recorded 1901): Herbert L. Clarke (corn), anonymous pianist.

 

The Old House by the Lindens (1862) v, pf

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Kay Jordan (S), Guy Rowland (pf).

 

Si tu savais - Dids't Thou but Know (c. 1865) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

Falling River (1869) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

An Cuilfionn (arr.) satb
BBC Radio Enterprises RED 36 M, LP (1965): Choir of the London Gaelic League, Seamus Purcell (cond).

 

The Sands of Dee (18??) v, pf
Symposium 1074, CD (1989): Peter Allanson (Bar), Stephen Betteridge (pf).

British Music Society BMS 422, CD (1998): Katy Morell (S), John Talbot (pf).

 

Those We Love (18??) v, pf

Guild GMCD 7359, CD (2011): Sally Silver (S), Richard Bonynge (pf).

 

Il Talismano (unfinished, completed by Michael Costa in 1874) opera
Excerpts:
- Che Calmo Asil, Placida Notte

- Nella Dolce Trepidanza
Melba 301082, CD (2000): Deborah Riedel (S), Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (cond).

- No Sweeter Bud than Thou (from Engl. transl. as 'The Talisman')

WRW 204-2, CD (2008): Peter Dempsey (T), Guy Rowland (pf).