IN: News & Features

BMInt Peddles Songbook


dalziel002In response to numerous inquiries as to what readers might do to support the Intelligencer, we now have an answer: Buy our book.

BMInt has just republished J.W. Elliot’s beloved 1870 National Nursery Rhymes and Song. Many of the tunes remain in our collective subconscious as the versions of songs our parents and grandparents sang to us and we now sing to our children and grandchildren. Others rise to the level of through-composed art song. Our slavish facsimile of the original is replete with more than 100 illustrations by the brothers Dalziel and also includes a potpourri of carefully chosen recorded examples starring an 1870 Chickering concert grand, pianist Artem Belogurov, tenor Daniel Hershey, mezzo-soprano Thea Lobo and baritone Robert Honeysucker. Unlikely profits from sales of this book will go toward reducing the Intelligencer’s inevitable deficits. Some selected pages may be enjoyed here. Some songs may be sampled below.

The price of the cloth bound standard edition is $45. A special limited edition bound in leather and marbled paper will give supporters a chance to make a real difference by making a $500 purchase.

A better present for musical new parents and grandparents is hardly imaginable. If you don’t have a piano, then sing along with the included CD.

One may order by check payable to Boston Musical Intelligencer, 76 High Street, Charlestown, 02129. Please specify how many copies and which version. Please add $5.00 for each book shipped and 6.25% Massachusetts sales tax. One may also order by credit card through the link below.  Local readers may avoid a shipping charge by making arrangements for pick-up in Charlestown.  Tea will be served.

After five years of electronic publishing,  I am very pleased to offer something more weighty. Many thanks to all who have roamed the pages of this journal.

Select Version

National Nursery Rhymes and Songs


Detail from the frontispiece


About the recording and publication

James William Elliott’s collection has been part of our family life since the birth of my son, in 1989. And long before Nathaniel’s arrival, many of Elliott’s tunes were etched in my own childhood memories. Before I encountered the original of this volume, I had assumed that the nursery songs sung to me and my forebears were folk tunes. Rather, many were the product of Elliott’s particular genius.

The cloth bound version.
The cloth bound version.

Of his book of songs he said, “The present volume is intended as a contribution to what may justifiably be considered a not unimportant department of our national song literature—The National Nursery Rhymes namely, which seem appointed, by tacit and universal consent, to be ‘said or sung,’ and listened to with unwearied interest in great National Institutions, the British Nursery and Home School-room.”

My original edition, from 1873, was in such tatters that I could no longer safely open it on the piano. Though many subsequent reprints were available in the used-book market, none preserved the quality of the brothers Dalziel illustrations and the quality of the printing and paper. Hence this volume.

Of his book of songs he said, “The present volume is intended as a contribution to what may justifiably be considered a not unimportant department of our national song literature—The National Nursery Rhymes namely, which seem appointed, by tacit and universal consent, to be ‘said or sung,’ and listened to with unwearied interest in great National Institutions, the British Nursery and Home School-room.”

We provide recordings of 24 songs in a slightly piano-forward recording in hopes that families without keyboards will sings these songs together in front of loudspeakers instead. The performances were captured on a Sound Devices 788 through Sanken CU-41 microphones. James Donahue provided the equipment and generously offered advice on recording techniques. The piano has been under the care of Tony McKenna for decades; Mary Logue tuned for the sessions. We thank the Rev. Evrol Officer and Music Director Fritz Winegardner of Unity Boston at Christ’s Church Longwood.

The entirely original straight-strung concert grand (8’4”), serial no. 22,078, used in this recording has occupied a quiet alcove in Christ’s Church in the Longwood section of Brookline since the Victorian Gothic structure was erected, in 1860-61. It was originally known as the Sears Chapel, David Sears having built it as an ecumenical, nonsectarian house of worship in 1860-’61, based on the design of the supposed Sears family’s ancestral church in Colchester, England. (Brookline Historical Society.)

Chickering was the favorite piano of many 19th-century worthies, including Liszt, Grieg, and von Bülow, and the thriving business was growing at an astonishing pace, in part because of the giant manufactory Jonas ordered built in Boston’s South End, capable of turning out 2000 instruments annually.

About the composer:

James William Elliott was born at Warwick on February 13, 1833, and was a chorister in Leamington Parish Church 1846-’48. He studied under G.A. Macfarren and held the following organist appointments: Leamington Chapel, 1847-’52, private organist to the Earl of Wilton Heaton Hall 1859-’60, Parish Church Banbury 1860-’62, St Mary the Boltons London 1862-’64, All Saints’, St. John’s Wood 1864-’74, and from 1874 to 1909 he was organist and choirmaster at St Mark’s Hamilton Terrace London. He composed two operettas, Romance and Reality, produced at Charing Cross Theatre with F. Maccabe in the principal part, and Dan’l’s Delight, German Reed, Easter, 1893. Other works are National Nursery Rhymes, Novello 1870, a collection that has become a classic in juvenile musical literature (it had a great vogue and is still in demand); The Harmonium Treasury, two vols (arrangements), “Six original pieces for harmonium”; The Choral Service Book, 1892; Hymn Tunes with Varied Harmonies, Phillips & Page 1895; Anthems services partsongs; and Hybrias the Cretan (in a translation from the Greek by Thomas Campbell), considered one of the finest bass songs ever written. His-best known hymn tunes are Day of Rest, Church Triumphant, and Cross and Crown.

From Musical Times, March 1, 1915, and British Musical Biography by James D. Brown and Stephen S. Stratton.

About the manufacturer 

Two of the 118 pages.
Two of the 118 pages.

Jonas Chickering lived in the Boston area and was apprenticed to Benjamin Crehore around 1815 to learn instrument-making. It was here that he developed his skills as a piano builder. After working for another builder and acquiring further experience, he began his own business in Boston in 1823. From the very first, Chickering’s pianos were of superb quality and design, and the maker coupled with a partner who was good at marketing, so theinstruments became known throughout all of North and South America. In 1843 he incorporated his concept for a cast iron frame in a concert grand, and an improved version of this piano received unparalleled praise at the first International Exposition, held in 1851 at the Crystal Palace London, winning the top awards. In 1852 Jonas made his three sons, Thomas, Frank, and George, partners in the firm. In 1867, following the great Paris Exposition, Frank Chickering received the Imperial Cross of the Legion of Honour, then one of the world’s most prestigious nonmilitary awards, bestowed upon him by Emperor Napoleon III for services to the art of music. The Chickering pianos built until around the Second World War are considered by some to be second to none, and many of the grands built from the late 1800s to around 1925 produce among the most powerful and rich sound possible, especially in the bass

About the artists:

Known both for his “verve, wit, and delicatesse” (Boston Musical Intelligencer) and for his “infinite tenderness” (Evening Odessa), Artem Belogurov has an extensive repertoire, ranging through three centuries of solo and chamber works. He has a particular affinity for the Viennese classical style, in which he is distinguished by his use of improvisatory ornamentation. His interest in period performance leads him to historical keyboards, including clavichord, harpsichord, and fortepianos spanning the 18th and 19th centuries. His critically acclaimed album of solo piano works by the late 19th-century American Romantic composers, recorded on a Chickering piano built in 1873, was released in 2015 by the London label Piano Classics. He is also a discerning advocate of contemporary music, and collaborates with a number of composers. In 2009 he had the honor of performing the Boston premiere of Elliott Carter’s Caténaires for solo piano. As soloist and in chamber groups, Artem has performed in a variety of venues, among them Jordan Hall, Harvard Musical Association, the Universität der Kunste in Berlin, the Musikhochschule in Hanover, St Andrews University in Scotland, the Odessa Philharmonic Hall in Ukraine, the Rachmaninoff Society in Saint Petersburg, and the Castello di Galeazza in Italy. Artem’s recent projects included a series of lectures, recitals, and masterclasses in Germany on the Chopin Préludes with the noted musicologist and historian Mark Lindley, a tour of the eastern USA with the brilliant young Ukrainian violinist Aleksey Semenenko, and performances of a Wilhelm Friedmann Bach double harpsichord concerto with the Sweelinck Barockorkest and Menno van Delft. He has also been performing programs drawn from his CD, in the US and Europe. He has a number of upcoming recording projects of chamber music, as well as his next solo CD, which will be devoted to Gottschalk. In September 2015, at the Utrecht Early Music Festival as part of the Fabulous Fringe, he will give a solo recital of music written in London in 1793. Belogurov is currently a student at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam, where he studies clavichord with Menno van Delft and fortepiano with Richard Egarr.

A recipient of the Boston Globe’s Musician of the Year award in 1995, Robert Honeysucker has performed such roles as Count di Luna, Germont, Ford, Iago, Amonasro, Rigoletto, and Renato with companies in Boston, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, and Fort Worth. He has also sung Don Giovanni, Figaro, Sharpless, Porgy and Jake in opera houses in Auckland, NZ, Berlin, Germany, and Linz, Austria. Orchestral performances have included Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Seji Ozawa) and with the Atlanta Symphony (Roberto Abbado); All Rise with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Kurt Mazur); Vaughn Williams’s Hodie with Salt Lake Symphony (Keith Lockhart); and Charles Ives’ General William Booth Enters into Heaven with the Pittsburgh Symphony (Michael Tilson Thomas). In addition, Mr. Honeysucker has performed with symphonies in St. Louis, Sacramento, Omaha, Roanoke, St. Paul, Long Island, NY, and Flagstaff, AZ. He has also appeared with orchestras in Tokyo, Osaka, Nobeoka and Sapporo, Japan.

Mr. Honeysucker is a member of Videmus, as well as a member and co-founder of the Jubilee Trio, which presents American art songs, including those of under-performed African American composers. He is currently a member of the voice faculties at The Boston Conservatory and The Longy School of Music.

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His discography includes performances on five Videmus discs: “Music of William Grant Still” (New World), “Watch and Pray” (Koch International), “More Still” (Cambria), “Highway 1, USA” (Wm. Grant Still) released by Albany Records, and “Good News” (Videmus Records). He is also featured on a CD recently released by the Jubilee Trio titled “Le’s have a Union” (Brave Records). Mr. Honeysucker is also featured on the Centaur, Ongaku and Titanic labels.

Hailed as “excellent”, “impeccable”, “limpidly beautiful”, “impressive”, “stunning”, and “Boston’s best”, mezzo-soprano Thea Lobo has appeared under conductors Gunther Schuller, Harry Christophers, Martin Pearlman and Helmut Rilling, and has been featured by the Firebird Ensemble, Carmel Bach Festival, The Bermuda Festival, and Europäisches Musikfest Stuttgart. A proponent of new music, she has worked as a soloist under the direction of composers Steve Reich, Howard Frazin, Fred Lerdahl, Christian Wolff, Lee Hyla, and Louis Andriessen. Ms. Lobo’s dedication to early music, especially the music of J.S. Bach, has seen her tour Japan performing Bach’s St. Matthew Passion solo-voice with Cambridge Concentus & Joshua Rifkin,

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at the Carmel Bach Festival as an Adams Fellow, a prizewinner at the Bach Vocal Competition for American Singers, and a Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Fellow with Emmanuel Music. As an interpreter of art song and chamber music, she has been a grant recipient of the Julian Autrey Song Foundation, a finalist in the Liederkranz Art Song Competition, and a featured recitalist for the Boston Portuguese Festival and The Shakespeare Concerts. She recently appeared with the Boston Early Music Festival, Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival, Berklee New Music, Amherst Early Music Festival, and White Mountain Music Festival, and her 2015-16 season includes performances with Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Providence Singers, True Concord, The Shakespeare Concerts, Guerrilla Opera, Andover Choral Society, and the Brookline Symphony Orchestra.

Daniel Hershey received his master’s in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory and has performed with various organizations in the greater Boston area including Emmanuel Music, Opera Boston, Boston Camerata, Handel & Haydn Society, New England Light Opera, Cambridge Opera, Brahms Society Orchestra, Masterworks Chorale, Cambridge Opera, Fine Arts Chorale, The Paul Madore Chorale and Chorus pro Musica. In 2004 he made his European debut in the Octobre en Normandie festival with the Boston Camerata. Since 2004 he has been touring the globe in “Borrowed Light”, a joint production of American Shaker music and contemporary dance with the Tero Saarinen Company and the Boston Camerata. He has also been a workshop leader for Opera Boston’s “Opera Shop” program. Dan has also been an artist at the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, NC where he has performed in operas and collaborated with guest artists such as Martin Katz and Henry Mollicone. His operatic and theater roles include Flute, Guillot, Lacouf, King Kaspar, Pedrillo, Trin, Frederic, Camille, St. Brioche, and Lt. Cable.

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1 Comment [leave a civil comment (others will be removed) and please disclose relevant affiliations]

  1. Although I am not in a position on my limited fixed income to buy even the $45 edition, this suggestion of placing the unique book in most of the college music libraries and public libraries in the country via such a distributor as Baker & Taylor should bring you a great return on the investment of time to contact them. Have you used a distributor already? In 1985, Baker & Taylor noticed that my books were beginning to sell to libraries. They and another company whose name I have forgotten actually placed them in most existing libraries and of course it was available via Interlibrary Loan even from the Boston Athenaeum that still has it. With no PR dept., that was about the end of it for my North South Artscope Publications that I ran singlehandedly. I looked in vain for a second edition publisher for “Outdoor Drama”, the only one in its genre at the time which made it undesirable as nothing could be promoted with it. Go for the music Library sales or let me know that you’ve been there; done that : )

    Comment by Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom — November 9, 2015 at 4:05 pm

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