played on the harpsichord by Peter Medhurst

Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself – a favorite [sic] Irish Dance, arranged as a Rondo for the Piano Forte by John Field

This delightful rondo is among the earliest of John Field’s compositions for the piano and found its way into print in 1797 through the London publishers Longman and Broderip.


The origin of the catchy tune is not known – though many believe it is by Field’s own hand – but what makes the melody particularly interesting is that it may be the original inspiration behind Australia’s national song Waltzing Matilda.  Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself  came to be known by many names over the years, and in the early 19th century surfaced in Scotland in at least two forms When Sick is it Tea You Want? and Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielea.


It was the Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielea version that decades later, in Australia in 1895, Christina Rutherford Macpherson is said to have reworked melodically and for which Andrew Barton Patterson supplied the famous Waltzing Matilda words as we know them today.


John Field’s rondo was written for the piano, but suits admirably the dynamic possibilities presented by a double manual harpsichord, which is the instrument on which it has been performed on this recording.