So wrote Imogen Holst of music librarians in her article Gustav Holst’s manuscripts in Brio vol. 4 no. 1. As true now as it was back in 1967.
This year, the United Kingdom and Ireland Branch of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (to give it its full name) celebrates its Diamond Jubilee and here at the University Library we have assembled an exhibition exploring the people who founded the Branch and its work supporting music librarians. In this first post, we’ll concentrate on its founding fathers.
An inaugural meeting to establish the Branch was held on March 23rd 1953 at Chaucer House in London, then the headquarters of the Library Association (now CILIP). Following the necessary formal business, and a cup of tea to celebrate, Eric Blom gave a talk, chaired by Cecil Oldman Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum, on the editing of the new (i.e. fifth) Grove’s Dictionary.
Gathering shells. A1879.135
Who uses music resources? Conversations among music librarians reveal that increasing numbers of libraries are getting rid of their music stock citing, among other things, under-use. As early as 2003 a IAML report Access to music highlighted some of the problems of supplying music resources. This is just a personal observation, but over the last 10 years I’ve noticed a growing number of non-musically-literate readers using music resources. Why is this? Researchers in social and military history have long known that popular music can be a great way of unearthing early references, spotting the start of trends, and finding contemporary illustrations of events and changing fashions.
The Language of Music / Deryck Cooke (top of title page) ; M824.c.95.6
Deryck Cooke’s book The Language of Music (O.U.P., 1959) has become such an icon of post-WW2 British musicology that one can easily forget that there was a time when it was brand-new – and readers up and down the country pored over pristine copies for the first time, wrestling with the 270 pages of dense argumentation and thought-provoking music examples. This experience is vividly conjured up by a recent donation to the UL: the copiously annotated copy of the book owned by Cooke’s friend, the composer Terry Dwyer (b. 1922).
My desk by the window at the Pendlebury enables me to enjoy an abundance of natural daylight. It also exposes me to the chilly force of the endless Cambridge winter, so I have spent the last few months swaddled in jumpers and scarves. Whilst I was leafing through a stack of newly-acquired song books last week, I felt it was with some bitter irony that the page fell open at Benjamin Britten’s setting of a Thomas Hardy poem, If it’s ever spring again.
We were all here at MusiCB3 deeply saddened to learn of the death on April 14th of Sir Colin Davis. This country’s beloved and greatly-respected elder statesman of the podium, for whom music was greater than life itself, will forever be associated with his sublime interpretations of Mozart, Berlioz and Sibelius. Adored by audiences, orchestras and opera houses the world over, he is best-known for his long and hugely successful association with the London Symphony Orchestra (as Principal Conductor 1995 – 2006, and then as its President) and his often tempestuous tenure at Covent Garden (as Music Director 1970 – 1985). He has also had fruitful partnerships with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Dresden Staatskapelle and his work with students in particular at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall was a constant, greatly-valued, thread.
Recently I answered a phone call from a lady in Manchester whose first words were “This is a very strange phone call…”
Whilst packing up her house prior to moving she discovered a Pendlebury library book in the bookcase which she believed must have been borrowed by her first husband. “I wasn’t married to him for long, but I know he read music at Cambridge over 50 years ago!”
Reference books at Pendlebury Library of Music, with gap where books have been “liberated” (i.e. made ordinary loan books)
For the last couple of months we have been weeding at the Pendlebury Library of Music, or more precisely removing items from the open shelves (see Aging gracefully? An update on the Pre-1900s material at the Pendlebury
and Autumn maintenance: weeding the open shelves
). A lot of these volumes have actually moved to closed access, as a significant number of items on the open shelves were pre-1900, and in order to preserve them, and also for collection security, they should not be on open shelves any more.