Irish Tune from the County Derry
Arranged for 4 C Flutes by Chris Donze
Includes score and parts
While the origin of Londonderry Air or Air from County Derry is difficult to pinpoint, many scholars agree with the opinion of author Michael Robinson, who credits Jane Ross with being the first to write down the melody as she heard it played by an Irish fiddler. She in turn made the chart available to her friend Dr. George Petrie of Dublin, who first published the tune in 1855 in his book of folk music The Ancient Music of Ireland. By 1911, Percy Aldridge Grainger made his famous harmonization of the work for band, string orchestra and full orchestra. That harmonization is the one most commonly recognized today, and is also the one on which this arrangement for flute quartet is based.
By 1913, the English lyricist Frederick Weatherly published the words that have come to be known as Danny Boy. They are among many sets of lyrics that have been used along with The Irish Tune from County Derry over the years, but are perhaps the best known for the mysterious message in the verse. Are these the words of a mother to her son, or of a girlfriend to her lover? Is he leaving for war (as many infer from the verse) or is he simply moving to another location (as in emigrating to America)?
In this arrangement, each of the four flutes gets to play the melody for one quarter of the length of the work. Use this to emphasize to young performers the difference between playing lead versus playing accompaniment.