Edward Bunting was one of the best known piano teachers and organists of his time and the first systematic collector of Irish folk-songs, Until 1819 he lived and worked in Belfast and held a prominent position in the city’s musical life. He was the inspiration for the Belfast Music Festival of 1813, and founded the Belfast Harp Society and the Irish Harp Society.
In 1819 he married and moved to Dublin where he held the post of organist in St. Stephen’s Church and was for a time a partner in a music warehouse.
The meeting of harpists in Belfast in 1792 was an event of great importance in his career and there he notated the performances of traditional Irish players. He was able to preserve melodies which were otherwise certainly destined for extinction.
Bunting’s work suffered from the expectation of the public for words and piano arrangements to be added to the ancient melodies, usually inappropriately. There can be no doubt, however, that to the scholar of music Bunting’s works are of value and interest, innovative but hampered by lack of knowledge and the demands of his own society.