Francis Roche Collection 3

Collection of Irish Airs, Marches & Dance Tunes…. by F. Roche, Vol. 3

Collection of Irish Airs Marches & Dance Tunes. Vol 3. Compiled and Arranged for Violin, Mandoline, Flute or Pipes: with Introductory Essay on Irish Dancing / by F. Roche

[tune titles listed below on left]

Francis Roche (1866–1961) from the village of Elton in south Co Limerick was a violinist, pianist and dancer, and a teacher of music and dance. His father and two brothers were of the same profession, and they ran a family academy in Limerick city from about 1900 and later in Elton with outreach to neighbouring areas. They taught Irish music and Irish dancing, but also popular classical music and ballroom dancing.

From about 1890, Francis began compiling and arranging a collection of music for publication. He was motivated by demand from pupils and fellow-teachers but also by the example of the published collections of Francis O’Neill in Chicago and especially by those of his fellow Limerick man P.W. Joyce, who loaned him manuscripts. Roche’s initial collection appeared in two volumes in January 1912.

The contents were noted down from oral tradition and from manuscripts of his father and others. It is clear from the performance markings throughout that his primary target instrument was the fiddle. The inclusion of such features as cadenzas and artificial harmonics (especially in the airs) makes it clear that a very high standard of proficiency, necessitating training in classical music, was required for some of the pieces. As an enthusiastic nationalist and Gaelic Leaguer, Roche mainly published Irish traditional tunes, and he had theories about the character and techniques of Irish music. But he also included international quadrille and fling melodies on the grounds that the related dances were widely danced in Ireland and their melodies had become ‘Irish by association’.

The first two volumes had a print-run of 4,000 copies, which quickly sold out and were reprinted. Roche revised them both for republication with this third volume in 1927, presented here in three tranches.

NC, TH & JS, 17 December 2013

Tunes in this collection