An Essay on the History and Theory of Music; and on the qualities, capabilities, and management of the human voice.
An Essay on the History and Theory of Music; and on the qualities, capabilities, and management of the human voice.
An Essay on the History and Theory of Music; and on the qualities, capabilities, and management of the human voice.
An Essay on the History and Theory of Music; and on the qualities, capabilities, and management of the human voice.
An Essay on the History and Theory of Music; and on the qualities, capabilities, and management of the human voice.

An Essay on the History and Theory of Music…
An Essay on the History and Theory of Music; and on the qualities, capabilities, and management of the human voice.

London: Whittaker, 1823.

Large quarto, including 40 leaves of engraved musical scores continuously paginated with the text; old pencil marginalia, in mid-nineteenth century black half with gilt lettering.

By the 'father of Australian music'.

A treatise on the art of singing and the philosophy of music by the 'father of Australian music'. Born in Canterbury in 1790, Nathan's father was a cantor in the local synagogue and instructed his son in the lore of traditional Jewish music. Throughout his life, Nathan forged links between Jewish music and mainstream European culture. In this respect he is best remembered for his collaboration with Lord Byron on the Hebrew Melodies of 1815. Nathan composed the scores for Byron's verse (including the enduring She Walks in Beauty) and the book was a resounding success for decades to follow.

A treatise on the art of singing and the philosophy of music by the 'father of Australian music'. Born in Canterbury in 1790, Nathan's father was a cantor in the local synagogue and instructed his son in the lore of traditional Jewish music. Throughout his life, Nathan forged links between Jewish music and mainstream European culture. In this respect he is best remembered for his collaboration with Lord Byron on the Hebrew Melodies of 1815. Nathan composed the scores for Byron's verse (including the enduring She Walks in Beauty) and the book was a resounding success for decades to follow.

Following Byron's self-imposed exile and early death, Nathan continued to work as a singing instructor and composer. He struggled with gambling debts throughout the late 1830s and finally sought a fresh start in Australia in 1841. He burst upon the parochial Sydney scene and as a witty and vivacious character, quickly became a prominent figure in Sydney social circles establishing a reputation as a singing teacher, composer, and vibrant conversationalist. Nathan was the first to record and memorialise Aboriginal music, whilst in 1847 he composed the first opera written and produced in Australia, Don Juan of Austria. Generally he played an important role in the advancement of Australian music as the Sydney scene became increasingly cosmopolitan following the end of convict transportation, and at the same time was a successful ambassador for Jewish culture in both England and Australia.

His Essay is an example of this fruitful cultural exchange, including illuminating detail on the history of Jewish melodies. It includes a table of Hebrew accents as pronounced by both Spanish and German (i.e. Sephardic and Ashkenazy) Jews accompanied by an engraved musical score. Nathan insists that poetry and music are inseparable: 'Harmony prevails throughout the works of our Creator; it is perceivable in all living things, even to the minutest fibre of the smallest field-flower, and it is their just and symmetrical proportions which delight us by throwing a pleasing harmony over the whole. In poetry, sublimity of ideas, brilliancy of imagination, and the reasoning of philosophy, would be nothing if the versification did not strike in sweet numbers on the ear.'

An original early20th-century photograph of Nathan's engraved tombstone is pasted to the front endpaper. Nathan died tragically in 1864, the first fatality of a horse-drawn tram in Sydney, and was buried in Camperdown cemetery.

Provenance: From the library of the Australian bibliophile and publisher Walter Stone, with his bookplate.

Sendrey, Bibliography of Jewish Music, 2061.

Price (AUD): $6,500.00  other currencies     Ref: #4311680

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