The diaries of Aloys Fleischmann online, 1926-27

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Blogging Irish History

Aloys_Fleischmann_1958_photo_by_Rory_FrewenThe UCD Press website is currently warning potential buyers of the recent Encyclopedia of Music in Ireland to add €25 postage to the already hefty price due to its weight (click here for proof). No harm, in that light, to highlight a project recently launched by UCC. The Irish composer Aloys Fleischmann (1910–1992) was born in Munich. His father was German and his mother was of German extraction, but his place of birth was an accident. His Bavarian father came to Cork in 1906 as organist and choir master at St Mary’s Cathedral (having married the his predecessor’s daughter). Fleischmann’s mother, a concert pianist, was on tour at the time of his birth. Aloys was largely educated in Germany, but forged his career in Cork, where he taught at UCC from 1934 to 1980, retiring as professor of music.

 

But he was more than just an academic. The Dictionary of Irish Biography observes that Fleischmann ‘was one of the most influential figures in the development of music in Ireland in the twentieth century. His unswerving determination to address the needs of music education and his efforts to raise public awareness of the arts were the driving forces of his life. As educator, composer, musicologist, campaigner, and organiser he has left an enduring legacy’. Now, two of the early years of his life have been revealed to public view, as his digitized diaries for 1926 and 1927 were launched on 20 November in UCC. This project was originally undertaken by Róisín O’Brien as an MA thesis in Digital Arts and Humanities at UCC. The purpose was to create a freely available digitisation prototype; and in that sense, it looks like a resounding success. The online diaries are a fascinating and accessible scholarly enterprise, being hosted on an exceptionally user friendly website that is surely a model for future projects of this kind. Each diary entry has been transcribed and indexed by subject and date (the indexes have a bewildering array of topics neatly outlined, and linked to the relevant entries). It is very easy to use with an impressively thorough introduction, and is surely essential reading for anyone interested in music in Ireland, not to mention the cultural and social life of Ireland in the 1920s. And it will save you at least €25 to boot.

 

The diaries can be accessed at http://fleischmanndiaries.ucc.ie

 

John Gibney

 

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