Annotation:Swiss Boy (The)

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X:1 T:Swiss Air T:Swiss Boy, The M:2/4 L:1/8 B:Kerr – Merry Melodies, vol. 3, No. 389 (c. 1880’s) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D (F/G/)|AF/G/ AF/G/|Af/e/ dA/A/|Ag/f/ ef/e/|(d2A) (F/G/)| AF/G/ AF/G/|Af/e/ dA/A/|Ag/f/ ef/e/|d3:| |:A|Ae/d/ cA/A/|Af/e/ dA/A/|Ae/d/ cA/A/|Af/e/ dF/G/| AF/G/ AF/G/|Af/e/ dA/A/|Ag/f/ ef/e/|d3:|]

SWISS BOY, THE. AKA – “The Merry Swiss Boy,” “Swiss Air.” English, Swiss, Quadrille (2/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. There was a vogue for a time in both England and the United States during the 1820’s and 1830’s for ‘Tyrolese Melodies’, popularized by touring singing groups from the Continent, including yodellers. “The Swiss Boy,” or as it was often called, “The Merry Swiss Boy,” was a particularly popular song composition of Ignaz Moscheles ("Der Schweizerbue", from his Tyrolese Melodies, 1827), a friend of Beethoven and teacher of Franz Mendelson. Although originally a song air, the melody was adapted for dancing as a march or even a polka. The tune appears in many British fiddlers’ manuscripts. In addition to Gibbons and Hardy (cited below in source information) it appears in the music manuscripts of George Spencer (Leeds, west Yorkshire, 1831), Charles Fox (Beverley, east Yorkshire, 1830), John Moore (Tyneside, 1841), the Browne family (Troutbeck, Cumbria), James Haslingden (Midlands or south of England, 1827), and James Winder (Wyresdale, Lancashire, 1835). It was published in America in Riley’s Flute Melodies, book 4, (New York, 1826, p. 61).

Noted is the research of Rebecca Dellow in her Doctoral Thesis 'Fiddler's Tunebooks'--Vernacular Instrumental Manuscript Sources 1860-c. 1880: Paradigmatic of Folk Music Tradition?[1] (June, 2018)

I could not identify the tune in Moscheles’ ‘Tyrolese Melodies’, although I found the ‘B’ part to closely resemble a German folk song, ‘Du Du Liegt Mir Im Herzen’, 571 which originates from Northern Germany. It transpires that Bavarian composer and inventor, Wilhelm Boehm published arrangements of both ‘Swiss Boy’ and ‘Du Du Lieght’ in 1838 called ‘Variations sur un air Tyrolien’ and ‘Variations sur un air Allemand’.572 On examination, the latter is revealed as a match to the melody in the second half of Till/Clutterbuck’s tune and the former is a version of the ‘Swiss Boy’, echoing the ‘A’ part of Till/Clutterbuck’s [ed. an English musician's manuscript collection] melody and pointing to his version being a later arrangement of the two tunes.

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - the 1823-26 music ms. of papermaker and musician Joshua Gibbons (1778-1871, of Tealby, near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire Wolds) [Sumner]; the Hardy family music manuscripts (Dorset) [Barber, Trim].

Printed sources : - Barber (Nick Barber's English Choice), 2002; No. 75, p. 34. Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; p. 51. Kerr (Merry Melodies vol. 3), c. 1880's; No. 389, p. 43 (appears as “Swiss Air”). Sumner (Lincolnshire Collections, vol. 1: The Joshua Gibbons Manuscript), 1997; p. 94 (originally set in the key of ‘C’). Trim (The Musical Legacy of Thomas Hardy), 1990; No. 9. Paul de Ville, Paul (Concertina and How To Play It), Carl Fischer, 1905); No. 121.

Recorded sources : - DMPCD 0204, Nick & Mary Barber with Huw Jones - "Lovely Nancy" (2002).

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  1. Rebeca Emma Dellow, 'Fiddler's Tunebooks'--Vernacular Instrumental Manuscript Sources 1860-c. 1880: Paradigmatic of Folk Music Tradition?, University of Sheffield, June 2018, p. 138 [1]