Musical borrowing was commonplace throughout the Baroque period. Rarely, however, have such practices been observed in the case of the annual royal birthday ode. Matthew Dubourg’s odes for Dublin present a curious and perhaps unique example of simultaneous self-borrowing and self-revision.
The violinist and composer Matthew Dubourg (1703–1767) first visited Dublin in 1724 and four years later, following the death of J. S. Cousser, was appointed Master of the State Musick in Ireland. He remained in Dublin (with frequent visits to London) for the next twenty- five years. As Master, Dubourg had the task of composing the musical ode for the celebration of the monarch’s birthday in Dublin. Performed at Dublin Castle before the viceroy and nobility, these odes were one of the highlights of the social calendar. Their poetry was often published and repeat performances of the works for charitable events were common.
However, unlike the odes composed for the London court, Dubourg’s exhibit significant instances of various types of musical and poetical self-borrowing and recycling. Curiously, and at odds with the practice of self-borrowing, some of his odes have alternative settings of the same verses. This paper seeks to uncover why these seemingly incongruous instances of recycling and revision appear in Dubourg’s odes and asks what unique social and musical expectations might have justified these practices.