‘Too Late! Too Late!’

Keeping it in the family - we could say that this comic song is a ‘cousin-by-marriage’ of one of our previous songs, Robin Red Breast by Anne Wilhemina Pelzer.

Robert Sidney Pratten (1824-1868), a highly regarded flautist who played for most of the London opera companies in the mid-nineteenth century, was the husband of virtuosa guitarist and teacher Catherina Pelzer, Anne Pelzer’s sister. Pratten played a role in the development of the flute and its repertoire in mid-19th century Britain and Ireland, appearing as first flute at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden as well as the Theatre Royal, Dublin.

Many of the songs in the Rouse Hill Estate collection have links between composers and lyricists who worked both in the opera houses and theatres of London. As Amy Moore says in her introduction this is very much a song of its time, particularly in its objectification of women, but it is interesting to trace the different instrumental and vocal styles and influences reflected in these popular songs. You might easily imagine a guitar (Pelzer) as easily as a piano in this song’s accompaniment, and also a flute (Pratten) taking the vocal line.

Another notable aside is the mention on the song’s cover ‘as sung by Miss Louisa Vinning’. Miss Vinning was a noted juvenile ‘novelty’ soprano in London, who by the time of this publication in 1854 was about 16 years of age. At four years of age, she was noted for ‘overcoming the most difficult modulations and chromatic passages of Italian music’ and for her ‘mellifluous tones’ in English, Scotch, and Irish melodies!

Watch the performance

Listen to Amy Moore share her performance of ‘Too Late! Too Late!’ Even though Pratten wrote quite a number of songs and musical exercises, few have been recorded. This is the only know recording of this song, so we have shared some videos relating to the Irish Pratten flute developed by the composer.

This video was recorded at home in 2020 during a COVID-19 lockdown.

Supported by: City of Sydney

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