Turlough O'Carolan was born in 1670, near Nobber, County Meath, Ireland and he died March 25th, 1738, in Alderford, County Roscommon. He was one of the last Irish bards and has written over 220 songs that survive in both words and music.
He was the son of an iron worker and became blind from smallpox at the age of 18. He was befriended by Mrs. MacDermott-Roe, whose family employed his father, who apprenticed him to a harper and supported him for the three years of his training, then gave him money, an attendant, and a horse. At the age of 22 he became an itinerant harper and traveled widely in Ireland. Although never considered a master performer, he was highly regarded as a composer of songs and improvised verse. His tunes appeared widely in 18th-century collections.
His music, although originally written for harp work extremely well on the viola. This volume contains songs he wrote for his patrons and special occasions as well as tunes written for amusement and pleasure. Underlying the traditional Irish folk element in his compositions is a strong influence of the Baroque style music so prevalent in his day. The accompaniments I have arranged for these songs are all in keeping with standard viola practice handed down since the 17th century. Each song is arranged as a theme and variations, beginning with the melody harmonized with double-stops or left hand pizzicato, and progressing into more developed adaptations of the theme. The arrangements stay primarily in the first three positions with occasional natural and artificial harmonics and higher position work.
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