An Essay on The History and Theory of Music;
and on The Qualities, Capabilities, and Management of The Human Voice.
London, Printed for G. and B. Whittaker, 1823
Isaac Nathan (c. 1791-1864) was a Jewish-English composer, musicologist, journalist and self-publicist. Son of a synagogues cantor, Nathan was classically trained by Domenico Corri, who was the student of legendary vocal teacher Nicola Porpora. In 1813 he conceived the idea of publishing settings of tunes from synagogue usage and persuaded Lord Byron to provide the words for these. The result was his famous Hebrew Melodies (1823). The work used, for the most part, melodies from the synagogue service, though few if any of these were in fact handed down from the ancient service of the Temple in Jerusalem, as Nathan claimed. To assist sales, Nathan recruited the famous Jewish singer John Braham to place his name on the title page, in return for a share of profits, although Braham in fact took no part in the creation of the Melodies. The work proved to be extremely successful, was reprinted numerous times and brought Nathan some fame and notoriety. Nathan was later to claim that he had been appointed as singing teacher to the Princess Royal, Princess Charlotte of Wales, and music librarian to the Prince Regent, later George IV. There is no evidence for this, although this this work is dedicated to George IV, with his permission.
In 1841 Nathan emigrated to Sydney, Australia, where he frequently lectured and where he rendered great service in developing musical talent. He acted as music adviser both to the synagogue and to the Roman Catholic cathedral in Sydney. Nathan was the first to research and transcribe indigenous Australian music, and also set lyrics by the poet Eliza Hamilton Dunlop (those were published in his Australian Melodies series in 1842).
First edition. Folio. Contemporary half-calf binding, spine rubbed; browning to some pages; text in English with occasional Hebrew; , vi-xiv, , 2-230 pp.
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