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Black and white photo of Derek Bell and his harp

Examining the classical accomplishments of Chieftains’ harper Derek Bell

This guest blog was written by Orla Dillon, a student on the Masters in Musicology at Maynooth University. As part of her course Orla completed a five-week internship in ITMA and undertook the task of listing Northern Irish harper Derek Bell’s previously unlisted and unexplored manuscripts of classical compositions, donated as part of the Derek Bell Collection.

Derek Bell with various instruments / Unidentified photographer
The Chieftains [photograph] / [unidentified photographer]

“So I wrote out my resignation and I've been running around with a tatty folk group ever since.”

Derek Bell
Derek Bell, playing harp / Unidentified photographer
A3 acid-free clam shell binders housing the Derek Bell Collection
Manuscript pages from the Derek Bell Collection
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Title page and page 1 from Book I of Bell’s full orchestral score for Symphony No. 2

“The work was inspired by a guide from the Holy Land of Shambhalla, the Grand Master of the Rosy Cross, whose name the composer is not permitted to reveal. The Great Master graciously permitted the composer to use the Violet Flame, the Golden Ray and the Cortandún themes. He wished them to be treated in Canon and so they are!!”

Derek Bell
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Typewritten programme notes by Bell

“I hope it can be easily and quickly understood by the average concert goer for it is a reactionary work and it is not an esoteric piece for the avant-garde music-specialist, but for everyone.”

Derek Bell