Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

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traditions of the stage as one of the snatches of old songs sung by Ophelia in Hamlet; but we have now no sufficient evidence to prove the origin of Cease your fanning. There are half-sheet songs to the same tune, such as " Charming Billy," commencing, "When the hills and lofty mountains;" but it is not certain that any are of earlier date than The Beggars' Opera. In all probability, Gay was unable to recollect the names of the two airs, although they were familiar to him.
The excessive popularity of Gay's song caused the adoption of its title when the tune was introduced in other ballad-operas, as, for instance, in The Fashion­able Lady, or Harlequin's Opera, 1730.
In the year 1833, the late John Parry published " The Welsh Melody, sung with such distinguished approbation by Miss Kelly, in her entertainment called Dramatic Recollections, written in Welsh and English, and adapted to the favorite air, Llwyn on, or The Ash Grove, by John Parry, editor of Welsh and Scotch Melodies." To this he added the following note:—" The celebrated song of Cease your funning, in The Beggars' Opera, is this beautiful and simple molody ornamented." The air of Cease your funning is really quite as simple as the Welsh melody; and, if there has been any copying, it is infinitely more probable that the Welsh air was derived from Cease your funning, than that a tune noted down seventy years after The Beggars' Opera had been publicly performed in Wales, should prove to be the original of one of its melodies. The Welsh air which resembles Cease your funning is neither to be found in the Ancient British Music, collected by John Parry and Evan Williams in 1742, nor in British Harmony, " being a collection of ancient Welsh airs," by John Parry of Ruabon Denbighshire, in 1781. It was first printed by Edward Jones, in his Bardic Museum, 1802, and the resemblance there is confined to tho first part, and is not very strong; but Parry increased it by slightly altering the first and entirely changing the second part of the tune. Again, who can say' that this Welsh air is old ? Jones entitles it, " Llwynn-onn, the name of Mr. Jones's mansion, near Wrexham, in Denbighshire." I do not know how long Mr. Jones's mansion has stood, or who composed the Welsh air; but it is not improbably the production of some grateful bard whom Mr. Jones entertained there. Let it be remembered that the succession of Welsh baids continues to the present day, and that some of their compositions are in­corporated in collections of Welsh music, without any marks to distinguish the new from the old. Edward Jones was Bard to George. IV.; the late John Parry, " Bardd Alaw." Parry printed " A Selection of Welsh Melodies," in three volumes ; and in the first, as well as in the second, included an air named Cader Idris, after a venerable mountain in Merionethshire. Some years after this publication, Mr. Charles Matthews sang the air on the stage, with great success, and Parry then claimed it as his own composition. He was too honorable a man to make such a claim, if not really his own, but Cader Idris (alias Jenny Jones), might still be passing for an ancient Welsh melody, if the copyright had not become thus suddenly and unexpectedly valuable. These matters are not always revealed to the public.

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