Jefferson’s Fiddle

By Deby Benton Grosjean & William Coulter

Search for Deby Benton Grosjean, William Coulter.

  1. Jefferson And Liberty
  2. Aileen Aroon
  3. George Washington’s Favorite Cotillion
    Corn Riggs Are Bonny
  4. The Last Time I Came O’er The Moor
  5. Ogni Dolce Aura (Every Sweet Breath)
  6. Rustic Red
    Off She Goes
  7. Adagio
  8. Menuet
  9. Thugamar Féin An Samhradh Linn (We Brought The Summer With Us)
  10. Tacite Ombre (Silent Shadows)
  11. Money Musk (Strathspey)
    Money Musk (Reel)
  12. Sarabande
  13. Gigue
  14. Robin Adair
  15. Sospiri Del Mio Cor (Sighs Of My Heart)

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Deby Benton Grosjean & William Coulter - Jefferson’s Fiddle

From the liner notes (https://gourd.com/141L.HTML ):

1. Jefferson and Liberty – Traditional Irish
In Jefferson’s time, as today, music was a key component in political campaigns. His 1800 presidential campaign song was set to a traditional Irish jig, called “The Gobby-O.” Our modern arrangement sets the tune in three different keys. Though our version is instrumental, the lyrics came from a poem attributed to ornithologist-painter Alexander Wilson. Today, it is regularly performed at contra dances.
The refrain:

Rejoice, Columbia’s sons, rejoice
To tyrants never bend the knee
But join with heart, and soul and voice
For Jefferson and Liberty.

William Coulter: guitar; Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle; Barry Phillips: cello; Shelley Phillips: English horn, oboe; Lars Johannesson: flute

2. Aileen Aroon – Traditional Irish (Thumoth Collection, 1748)
Also known as “Eileen My Treasure,” it is one of the oldest melodies in the Irish music tradition. It has quite a history all its own, possibly dating back to the fourteenth or fifteenth century, and it became a “family” of songs with many versions and interpretations. The song was sung between acts of a play by Shakespeare, in Jane Austen’s Emma, and in performances by Bob Dylan in the late twentieth century. Our version is based on the one we found in Jefferson’s 1783 catalogue in the Burk Thumoth collection.
William Coulter: guitar; Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle; Barry Phillips: cello

3. George Washington’s Favorite Cotillion / Corn Riggs Are Bonny – Traditional American / Traditional Scottish (Thumoth collection, 1748)
A cotillion is a dance that is the predecessor of the square dance, and was popular during Jefferson’s time. The second tune, is the melody from a Robert Burns song, and is well known today. It is more often sung, but we offer the instrumental version.
William Coulter: guitar; Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle; Barry Phillips: cello

4. The Last Time I Came O’er the Moor – Traditional Scottish (Thumoth collection, 1748)
Originally a Scottish tune that Robert Burns later used in 1793 for a very sad love song. Though he owned the tune, we do not know if Jefferson knew the Burns poem. One is certainly reminded of an earlier Maria, from Jefferson’s famous “Head and the Heart” letter to Maria Cosway in 1786.

The last time I came o’er the moor, and left Maria’s dwelling,
What throes, what tortures passing cure, were in my bosom swelling:
Condemn’d to see my rival’s reign, while I in secret languish;
To feel a fire in every vein, yet dare not speak my anguish.

William Coulter: guitar; Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle; Barry Phillips: cello; Shelley Phillips: oboe; Neal Hellman: mountain dulcimer

5. Ogni Dolce Aura (Every Sweet Breath) – Maria Cosway (1760–1838)
Instrumental version, with translation of the lyrics. This is one of the four songs Maria Cosway composed and sent to Jefferson just two months after their time in Paris.

The sweet breath of every gentle breeze whispers of this, my well being.
The soul within love’s bosom pines for a love that never comes,
The sweet breath of every gentle breeze whispers of this, my well being.
I’ll not answer this dream - It will garnish not a further care from me.
The sweet breath of every gentle breeze whispers of this, my well being.

Jennifer Cass: pedal harp; Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle

6. Rustic Reel / Off She Goes – Traditional Irish (Monticello Music Collection)
“Rustic Reel” is actually a jig, and the tune has several other names, one of which is “Off She Goes,” a well-known Irish jig that remains a popular tune at sessions today. Here we play the two jigs as a set.
William Coulter: guitar; Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle; Barry Phillips: cello; Shelley Phillips: Irish whistle

7 & 8. Adagio and Menuet – Carlo Antonio Campioni (1720 –1788)
These pieces were originally written for two flutes, harpsichord, and cello. We present an arrangement here for two flutes and classical guitar. Jefferson was known to have a particular preference for Campioni, and he expressed this in a rare handwritten document, on which he notated several themes from a few Campioni works he owned.
As an avid collector, he was always eager for more. He said he “would be glad to have everything else he has composed of Solos, Duets, or Trios. printed copies would be preferred, but if not to be had, [ he ] would have them in manuscript.” This gem of a personal document is in the Special Collections of the University of Virginia.
William Coulter: guitar; Lars Johannesson: flute.

9. Thugamar Féin an Samhradh Linn (We Brought the Summer with Us) – Traditional Irish (Thumoth collection, 1748)
Edward Bunting, an eighteenth-century music collector, wrote that this melody, “is probably extremely ancient. It was sung by the band of Virgins that went out of Dublin to welcome the Duke of Ormond when he landed in Ireland in 1633.” We play a slow version of the melody as found in the Thumoth collection and follow with the more popular version in a different key.
William Coulter: guitar; Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle; Barry Phillips: cello; Shelley Phillips: English horn, oboe; Neal Hellman: mountain dulcimer

10. Tacite Ombre (Silent Shadows) – Maria Cosway (1760–1838)
Instrumental version, with translated lyrics below. The second of the three songs we recorded that were sent to Jefferson by Maria Cosway.

O silent and horrid shadows, horrid larvae
that you render calm, alas, and (give) peace
upon who is suffering for love.
I know this pain, a tyranny of pain but the struggle of my heart cannot, just cannot be explained.

Jennifer Cass: pedal harp; Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle; Lars Johannesson: flute

11. Money Musk Strathspey and Reel – Daniel Dow (Monticello Music Collection)
Known to be one of Jefferson’s favorite tunes, named after an old Scottish estate, it was composed by Daniel Dow (1732 – 1783) and is still played for Scottish country dances. The tune may have started as a strathspey and evolved into a reel as it traveled through America. This arrangement includes both settings. It is one of the few pieces transcribed in Jefferson’s own hand. Later it was played often by Eston Hemings, son of Jefferson’s slave Sally Hemings, himself a master violinist.
William Coulter: guitar; Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle; Barry Phillips: cello

12 & 13. Sarabande and Gigue from the Violin Sonata VIII in E Minor – Arcangelo Corelli (Monticello Music Collection)
Arcangelo Corelli (1653 – 1713) was a master violinist, and teacher, and a favorite composer of Jefferson His teaching method influenced generations of violin instructors, and the popularity of his music continues today. For this recording, Deby presents her own variations and ornamentation on the repeats of each section.
Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle; Barry Phillips: cello; Linda Burman-Hall: harpsichord

14. Robin Adair – Traditional Scottish
This tune was mentioned by Jefferson’s granddaughter, Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge, in her 1838 travel journal, as a another particular favorite of his. Our arrangement was inspired by Highland bagpipe playing. It is a “sister tune” to “Aileen Aroon,” in that its opening phrase shares a common melodic shape.
William Coulter: guitar; Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle; Barry Phillips: cello; Lars Johannesson: flute

15. Sospiri del Mio Cor (Sighs of My Heart) – Maria Cosway (1760–1838)
Instrumental version, with the translated lyrics. The third song we recorded of the set of four sent to Jefferson. Though they corresponded for decades, the initial intimacy of their friendship was never the same.

I try to show an ungrateful heart, withheld from you,
but the pining sighs of my heart I can’t conceal from you.
I shall harden my breast and hide my blushing from the eyes of others.
I try to show an ungrateful heart, withheld from you,
but the pining sighs of my heart I can’t conceal from you.

Jennifer Cass: pedal harp; Deby Benton Grosjean: fiddle; Lars Johannesson: flute