I N P R E P A R A T I O N :
I currently have two books in preparation:
Bird of Time. The Music of Swan Hennessy
This is the first ever biography of the Irish-American, Paris-resident composer Swan Hennessy (1866–1929). Hennessy very much defined himself (and was perceived) as a 'Celtic' composer. But this is not all. He was also an Impressionist composer (mainly during 1907–13), and a forerunner to Les Six. Drawing on hitherto unvailable biographical and manuscript material, genealogical sources and newspaper archives, as well as the Hennessy family still resident in France (not the cognac/brandy family!), this book will present a fascinating and unique composer worth exploring (for musicians) and re-rediscovering (for audiences). The book was completed in July 2019 and will be published in September with Schott (Mainz, Germany).
A Short History of Irish Classical Music (working title)
This is going to be a popular history of Irish classical music. It will have between 120 and 150 pages, richly illustrated, written in a non-academic style and intended for everyone in Ireland who enjoys listening to 'classical' music (and I consciously use that term, because audiences do as well) - from the concert-goers of the National Concert Hall to Feis Ceoil participants (and their parents). Structure and contents are fixed, and I am in touch with a publisher. This will come after the Hennessy biography above.
O'Kelly - An Irish Musical Family in Nineteenth-Century France
Norderstedt: BoD, 2014, 493pp.
This book describes the careers and the music of four generations of Irish musicians in 19th and early 20th-century France. It is a fascinating story of hopes and disappointments, successes and failures, musical talent and tastes, as this family integrated more and more into French society. The book collects documentary evidence about all members of the family with numerous music examples and other illustrations. It is not only a study of the prototype minor composer in one of Europe's musical capitals, but also discusses issues of identity, change, aesthetics and Irishness in exile. It is a contribution to both French and Irish musical history.
The book can be ordered in a printed format or as an e-book. I personally recommend the printed copy, mainly because the more than a hundred illustrations (music examples etc) should come across better in this format.
– Blog of the American Musicological Society, September 2014; "All by myself".
– Musicologie.org, November 2014: "Les O'Kelly, une dynastie musicale française venue d'Irlande".
– Études irlandaises, 39.2 (2014), p. 187-192 (by Adrian Scahill); here.
– Irish University Review, 45.2 (2015), p. 396–399 (by Laura Watson); here.
– Revue de Musicologie 105 (2019), p. 200–201 (by Catherine Massip); here (but no full text available).
The Life and Music of Brian Boydell
edited by Gareth Cox, Axel Klein and Michael Taylor
Blackrock, Co. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2004, 132pp.
Brian Boydell (1917-2000) was one of the most significant Irish composers of the twentieth century. This book paints a picture of the man and musician, discusses the main characteristics of his compositional technique, consides his legacy as a historical musicologist, and catalogues his works and writings. With contributions by the editors as well as Harry White and Hazel Farrell.
Irish Musical Studies 7: Irish Music in the Twentieth Century
edited by Gareth Cox and Axel Klein
Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003, 208pp.
This seventh volume in the Irish Musical Studies Series examines the development of art music in Ireland from different perspectives. The book includes historical assessments of genre in Irish music, analyses of individual composers and compositions, and essays in cultural history.
Irish Classical Recordings - A Discography of Irish Art Music
by Axel Klein
Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2001 (now: Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio), xviii+265pp
Though the term Irish music typically evokes images of fiddles, flutes, and Riverdance, Ireland and its culture have also given rise to a wealth of classical music, including compositions ranging from string quartets via orchestral music to operas. In this important work, author Axel Klein provides much more than a mere discography: he documents and promotes a largely unknown aspect of Irish culture in a unique combination of discographical and biographical information. Featuring ninety-three recorded Irish composers and forty-three international composers influenced by Irish music, the volume offers the means for scholars and general readers alike to familiarize themselves with a subject to which most of the world, until now, has not been exposed. As most of the music described is currently available on compact disc, Klein's compilation serves as an invaluable resource guide for both academics and amateur enthusiasts.
Die Musik Irlands im 20. Jahrhundert
by Axel Klein (in German)
Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1996, 526pp.
This was the first study, in any language, of the history of Irish art music in in the twentieth century. The book (a version of the author's Ph.D. dissertation of 1995) describes, in chronological order, representative works of different genres and places them in the context of Irish cultural history and international musical development. The study also included the biographies and aesthetics of 76 composers. Appendices include a bibliography, discography, and biographical index.