Books

I N   P R E P A R A T I O N :

I currently have two books in preparation:

 

Swan Hennessy (1866–1929) (working title)

This is a biography of the Irish-American, Paris-resident composer Swan Hennessy, prompted by the composer's 150th anniversary of birth in November 2016. Hennessy very much defined himself (and was perceived) as a 'Celtic' composer. But this covers only about 25 percent of his output. Drawing on hitherto undiscovered biographical and manuscript material, genealogical sources and newspaper archives, as well as the Hennessy family still resident in France (not the cognac/brandy family!), this book will present a fascinating and unique composer worth exploring (for musicians) and re-rediscovering (for audiences). I am aiming for a book of 200-250 pages and finalising the manuscript in 2017.

 

 

A Short History of Irish Classical Music (working title)

This is going to be a popular history of Irish classical music. It will have no more than 120 pages, richly illustrated, written in a non-academic style and intended for everyone in Ireland who enjoys listening to 'classical' music (and I consciously use that term, because audiences do as well) - from the concert-goers of the National Concert Hall to Feis Ceoil participants. Structure and contents are fixed, and I am in touch with a publisher. This will come after the Hennessy biography above.

 

O'Kelly - An Irish Musical Family in Nineteenth-Century France

Norderstedt: BoD, 2014, 493pp.

ISBN: 978-3-7357-2310-9

 

This book describes the careers and the music of four generations of Irish musicians in 19th and early 20th-century France. It is a fascinating story of hopes and disappointments, successes and failures, musical talent and tastes, as this family integrated more and more into French society. The book collects documentary evidence about all members of the family with numerous music examples and other illustrations. It is not only a study of the prototype minor composer in one of Europe's musical capitals, but also discusses issues of identity, change, aesthetics and Irishness in exile. It is a contribution to both French and Irish musical history.

 

The book can be ordered in a printed format or as an e-book. I personally recommend the printed copy, mainly because the more than a hundred illustrations (music examples etc) should come across better in this format.

 

The book was featured in September 2014 in a blog of the American Musicological Society; see "All by myself": "Musicologists working in Paris archives always raise their eyebrows when stumbling across the exotic name O'Kelly, as inevitably they do. Here Axel Klein gets the family story properly told."

 

A review in French appeared on 19 November 2014 in musicologie.org, an online "Gazette musicale", see: "Les O'Kelly, une dynastie musicale française venue d'Irlande": ""Malgré d'importants témoins d'archives, dont de nombreuses partitions conservées à la Bibliothèque nationale de France, les musiciens et compositeurs, sur quatre générations, de la famille O'Kelly ne sont pas entrés sinon dans l'histoire de la musique, du moins dans les notices lexicales de nos dictionnaires. Ils ont maintenant, grâce à Axel Klein, chercheur allemand spécialiste de la vie musicale irlandaise, un beau monument d'environ cinq cents pages."

 

From a review by Adrian Scahill in Études irlandaises, 39.2 (2014), p. 187-192: "Klein's industry in producing this substantial book is highly impressive, and its documentation of the biography and the music of these composers will be of much use to future scholars."

 

 

The Life and Music of Brian Boydell

edited by Gareth Cox, Axel Klein and Michael Taylor

Blackrock, Co. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2004, 132pp.

ISBN: 0-7165-2762-6

 

Brian Boydell (1917-2000) was one of the most significant Irish composers of the twentieth century. This book paints a picture of the man and musician, discusses the main characteristics of his compositional technique, consides his legacy as a historical musicologist, and catalogues his works and writings. With contributions by the editors as well as Harry White and Hazel Farrell.

 

 

 

Irish Musical Studies 7: Irish Music in the Twentieth Century

edited by Gareth Cox and Axel Klein

Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003, 208pp.

ISBN: 1-85182-647-5

 

This seventh volume in the Irish Musical Studies Series examines the development of art music in Ireland from different perspectives. The book includes historical assessments of genre in Irish music, analyses of individual composers and compositions, and essays in cultural history.

 

 

 

Irish Classical Recordings - A Discography of Irish Art Music

by Axel Klein

Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2001 (now: Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio), xviii+265pp

ISBN: 0-313-31742-9

 

Though the term Irish music typically evokes images of fiddles, flutes, and Riverdance, Ireland and its culture have also given rise to a wealth of classical music, including compositions ranging from string quartets via orchestral music to operas. In this important work, author Axel Klein provides much more than a mere discography: he documents and promotes a largely unknown aspect of Irish culture in a unique combination of discographical and biographical information. Featuring ninety-three recorded Irish composers and forty-three international composers influenced by Irish music, the volume offers the means for scholars and general readers alike to familiarize themselves with a subject to which most of the world, until now, has not been exposed. As most of the music described is currently available on compact disc, Klein's compilation serves as an invaluable resource guide for both academics and amateur enthusiasts.

 

 

 

Die Musik Irlands im 20. Jahrhundert

by Axel Klein (in German)

Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1996, 526pp.

ISBN: 3-487-10196-3

 

This was the first study, in any language, of the history of Irish art music in in the twentieth century. The book (a version of the author's Ph.D. dissertation of 1995) describes, in chronological order, representative works of different genres and places them in the context of Irish cultural history and international musical development. The study also included the biographies and aesthetics of 76 composers. Appendices include a bibliography, discography, and biographical index.