William Vincent Wallace (1812-65)


b. Waterford, son of Scottish reg. bandmaster stationed in Waterford, who moved to Dublin in 1827; Thurles Cathedral organist at 16; m. a Miss Kelly in Blackrock, 1835; emigrated to Australia to sheep-farm; travelled in New Zealand and Tasmania, and parted from his wife and children whom he never saw again, encountering Maoris and Maori girls; narrowly escaped death in whaling mutiny; visited India, S. America (Valparaiso), and Mexico, giving concerts; sustained losses in tobacco investment in America;
m. Miss Stoepel, a pianist, in NY, 1844; Maritana enthusiastically received in Drury Lane, 15 Nov. 1845; six operas first performed at Drury Lane or Covent Garden, 1845-1863, incl. his last The Desert Flower, being facetiously known with Balfe’s Bohemian Girl and Benedict’s Lily of Killarney as ‘the Irish Ring’; tours in Germany, and America; Lurline, successful at Covent Garden, 1860; died in France at Chateau de Bagen (Pyrenees); there is a portrait in water-colour by J. Hanshew (1853). ODNB DIB

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Robert Phelan, William Vincent Wallace: Vagabond Composer (Celtic Publ. Waterford 1995), 125pp., incorporates material from unpublished biography of Wallace by A. P. Graves [Books Ireland, Feb. 1996]. See also T. N. Fewer, Waterford People: A Biographical Dictionary (Ballylough Books 2005).

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“There Is a Flower That Bloometh” from Maritana
by William Vincent Wallace; libretto by Edward Fitzball

There is a flower that bloometh
When autumn leaves are shed.
With the silent moment it weepeth,
The spring and summer fled.
The early frost of winter
Scarce one tint hash overcast.
Oh, pluck it ere it wither,
’Tis the memory of the past!

It wafted perfume o’er us
Of sweet, though sad regret
For the true friends gone before us,
Whom none would e’re forget.
Let no heart brave its power,
By guilty thoughts o’ercast,
For then, a poison flow’r
Is - the memory of the past!
—Quoted in Don Gifford, Joyce Annotated [... &c.] (California UP 1982) [rev. edn.], p.68.

Donn Byrne: Wallace is cited in Donn Byrne’s Hangman’s Hill (pref.) as Mr. Wallace of Waterford, author of Maritana.

Portraits: There is a water-colour portrait by J. Hanshew (dated 1853, Wat[er]ford) in the National Gallery of Ireland; also an unsigned engraving, reprinted in Brian de Breffny, ed., Ireland: A Cultural Encyclopaedia (London: Thames & Hudson 1982), p.160. [ top ]