Home, Sweet Home

Album: CLARI OR The Maid of Milan (1823)

Songfacts®:

  • This well-known song was written by Henry R. Bishop, Composer & Director of Music to the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, and it has an unusual claim to fame. According to the 1976 publication The Guinness Book Of Music Facts And Feats, it is the only song known to have been sung in a court of law. Certainly it appears to be the only song to be sung to a jury by a defense attorney. In 1935, John Brett was defending alleged bank robber Lloyd Grable; his attempt to instill reasonable doubt or perhaps sympathy was rebuffed with a conviction and a life sentence. For his client, not for himself!
  • The score is held by the British Library, and is credited thus: "HOME! SWEET HOME!" by H.R. Bishop, Sung by Miss Beaumont, from the opera CLARI OR The Maid of Milan, in three acts, as performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden.
    Another source says the melody first appeared in 1821, and was included in an album of national airs which Bishop compiled. Apparently he wanted to include a tune from Sicily, but was unable to find a suitable one, so wrote this and and dubbed it Sicilian! He is said to have added the words by the American lyricist John Howard Payne two years later.
    The opera was first performed on May 8, 1823, at Covent Garden, and "Home, Sweet Home" was included at the end of Act One, in which it was sung by the soprano Maria Tree. Although this was a good few years before Billboard, the song was an overnight success, not only for opera singers but in drawing rooms and parlours. Soprano Adelina Patti used it as an audition piece, and performed it at the opening of the Chicago Auditorium in the presence of the President of the United States, James Buchanan in 1859. It was sung by Jenny Lind "the Swedish Nightingale" in her concerts from 1850 onwards, and has been sung by such big names as Dames Nellie Melba, Kiri Te Kanawa and Joan Sutherland, the latter who sang it in her last performance at Covent Garden, on New Year's Eve, 1990. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2

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