At the event: The William Alwyn Festival

Southwold. Acrylic by William Alwyn, painted in 1978. Copyright The William Alwyn Foundation. Private collection.

Southwold. Painted by William Alwyn in 1978.
Copyright The William Alwyn Foundation.
Private collection.

Last weekend I travelled down to Suffolk for the William Alwyn Festival situated in and around Southwold. The Festival is now in its fourth year. As well as promoting the work of Alwyn himself, the Festival concentrates on the work of twentieth-century British composers, often featuring forgotten works, and sometimes even forgotten composers. There are plenty of old friends too.

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Bygone concert venues 7: St. James’s Hall

Interior of St James's Hall from Routledge’s Guide to London c.1870

Interior of St James’s Hall from Routledge’s Guide to London c.1870

This is the post that should have come along before Treasure Grove and Wot no ice cream?. Why? Because St. James’s Hall is the venue where these concerts all took place. We have a small, but fascinating collection of about 250 programmes spanning 1867 – 1904 for the Hall from Hans Richter’s orchestral concerts, to the Monday and Saturday Popular concerts of chamber music together with a pot-pourri of others suitable for all days of the week.

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A new year begins

It’s been a busy six weeks so far, with lots to prepare in readiness for the new intake of students next week. For my part, I’ve been steadily working my way through cataloguing about 60 CDs to be added to the Pendlebury’s impressive collection, and hoping that I can finish in time! In the meantime, the staff have been hard at work preparing induction information, updating guidelines and buying in all the new books that students are going to need (some of them look really interesting!).

Just a small fraction of the CDs that the Pendlebury Library has.

Just a small fraction of the CDs that the Pendlebury Library has.

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Happy birthday PRS

prsformusiclogoApril 1st, 1914 was a momentous day. On that day the Performing Right Society was born. The PRS exists to collect money for the publication and recording of music in the UK, and to pay the composers and lyricists who write what we listen to and play. Prior to the founding of the Performing Right Society it was often down to a composer’s relationship with his publisher whether he was able to negotiate a decent “cut” of the proceeds. Astute composers such as Haydn could  negotiate hard bargains with their publishers, while others, Sousa for example, were not afraid to complain vociferously to The Times about piracy in the UK. Others however were less fortunate. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor notoriously sold the rights to the hugely popular Hiawatha cycle outright, and died in poverty making very little money from the sheet music sold, or the concerts which would later be staged at the height of “Hiawathamania”. Continue reading

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Thomas Busby: the model for MusiCB3?

Vol 1 of Thomas Busby's Concert Room Anecdotes. 1825.

Thomas Busby’s Concert Room and Orchestra Anecdotes. 1825. © Cambridge University Library

If the composer, writer and musician Thomas Busby had been alive today he would have been in his element delighting in the ability to get online and blog away to his heart’s content – hot competition though for us here at MusiCB3.  What on earth, you may wonder, am I on about? Read on and find out… Continue reading

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Ebooks for music

ebooks@cambridge

ebooks@cambridge

I still remember the days when we advertised ebooks on music subjects at the Pendlebury Library by printing out all the covers on a poster and yes, they did all fit, first on an A4 and later on an A3 sheet of paper. Continue reading

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Tudor Treasures

Title page of Luther's Deudsche Messe vnd Ordnung Gottis Diensts

Title page of Luther’s Deudsche Messe vnd Ordnung Gottis Diensts MR220.d.50.1.

As part of Open Cambridge next week (12-13 September), the University Library will be hosting a Tudor Treasures tour. (It’s currently fully booked, but check the UL’s Facebook page just in case any cancellations occur).

I was asked to look out some of the Music Department’s “Tudor treasures” to complement items displayed by other departments. An early item of printed music is Martin Luther’s Deudsche Messe vnd Ordnung Gottis Diensts, published by Michael Lotter in Wittenberg in 1526. This first edition sets out Luther’s views on how the Mass should be conducted, and also includes chants and hymns. Continue reading

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