Roald’s Marvellous Musicals

At the age of about eight, I was completely obsessed with Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I’m sure I can’t have been the only hopeful child to spend hours trying to move things with my eyes after reading it (I hope not anyway..!). As a bookish heroine who spent the majority of her time in the library, Matilda is probably partly to blame for what I ended up doing later (maybe along with Hermione Granger). I’ve been reminded about Matilda in the last few days, as the book was apparently published thirty years ago this October, and Penguin will be printing new covers featuring Quentin Blake’s illustrations of what Matilda might be like at 30. The fact that it was Roald Dahl day last week gave me even more excuse to revisit Dahl’s works. I’ve lined up a few Dahl-related items at MusiCB3 to show off on the blog today…

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From the Editor’s spike: Hans Keller and Haydn’s 250th anniversary

Hans Keller in the 1950s. Milein Cosman. Published with the kind permission of the Cosman Keller Art and Music Trust.

Here in the Hans Keller archive there are several boxes of unpublished articles spanning the whole of Keller’s writing career. The flow of ideas was unstoppable and clearly outstripped the speed at which editors and typesetters could keep up. Doing a little research recently, I came across this piece written for the March/April 1982 issue of Musical Times which celebrated the 250th anniversary of Haydn’s birth. Its part-review and part-reminiscence approach didn’t quite match the brief and so after some back-and-forth between Keller and the then MT Editor Stanley Sadie (whose archive we have here at the UL), there was a gentlemen’s agreement to disagree and not to publish (In any case, Keller simply refused to allow anyone to alter any of his writing, and this was no exception). What the piece does do, however, is offer a tantalising glimpse of the depth of knowledge and understanding of Haydn’s Quartets which Keller possessed and which formed the roots of his musical thought. Over to HK:

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New CDs at the Pendlebury

Today on MusiCB3, a glimpse of just a few of the new CDs that have arrived over the summer…

Symphonies / Pärt

Part symphonies

Classmark: CD.M.1362

This recording by NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste, presents all four of Pärt’s Symphonies on a single disc for the first time. Kaljuste considers the recording as “a biographical narrative, and hope that with the sound of the entirety of the music on this album we can refresh our memory of Part’s journey” [CD booklet].


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IAML Leipzig 2018: it’s all in the mix

“Die Mischung machts; It’s all in the mix” was an eminently suitable catch phrase for the IAML Leipzig 2018 Congress. IAML congresses always offer a very full and varied programme but the Leipzig week had so much on offer that I kept wishing for a time-turner to avoid having to choose between the many interesting presentations and fabulous library visits.

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Queen of Soul


Aretha Franklin performing at the White House, April 2015 / Wikimedia Commons.

Along with the rest of the world, we were saddened at MusiCB3 to learn of the death of Aretha Franklin.

Known in various parts of the world as Lady Soul, Sister Ree, La Diva Franklin, Le Regina del Soul, La Magnifique, and The Queen of Soul, Franklin’s career began in the choir of the Detroit church where her father was a minister, and where she recorded her first album in 1956 at the age of 14. It was in the late 1960s that her career took off, however, with her producer at Atlantic Records encouraging her to embrace her gospel roots, rather than trying to push her style towards jazz as had happened with her earlier record label, Columbia. Songs recorded during this time such as ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’, ‘Respect’, and ‘Think’ were the ones that shot her to fame, along with her breakthrough album recorded in 1967, ‘I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You’.

Franklin’s gospel journey continued with the release of her most popular album, ‘Amazing Grace‘, which sold over two million copies in the US. Aaron Cohen’s exploration of this album for the 33 1/3 series is available as an electronic legal deposit copy, accessible on electronic legal deposit terminals at both the UL and the Pendlebury.

You can find two biographies of Franklin at the UL. Mark Bego’s ‘Aretha Franklin: Queen of Soul’ is on South Front at: M557.c.95.348, and David Ritz’s ‘Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin’ (dismissed by Franklin, it is worth bearing in mind, as a “trashy book”) is at classmark: M557.c.201.83.

To revisit Franklin’s appearance as Mrs Murphy in The Blues Brothers, and the re-recording of her song ‘Think’ for the famous diner scene, you can find the film on DVD at the Pendlebury at classmark: DVD.F.54.


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Creating a general impression: Debussy and “L’Après-midi d’un Faune”

Illustration for the programme cover by Bakst

The opening four bars of Debussy’s L’Après-midi d’un Faune mustsurely be one of the most iconic in the entire classical repertoire – up there with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the Prelude to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. The languor and sensuousness of the phrase depicts perfectly the sultry, stupefying summer afternoon conjured up by Mallarmé‘s 1876 poem which  inspired the composer to write what would become one of the best-loved pieces in the orchestral repertoire. Continue reading

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A wilting librarian?
Woman with fan by Ludwig Stasiak.
Public domain.

It’s been sticky work here at the UL over the last few weeks, especially in the non-air conditioned Anderson Room office, where even with a fan working like crazy, and most of the doors and windows open, the MusiCB3 staff have been melting with the heat.

Staff are busily planning, or are already on their holidays, with destinations ranging from a Cambridge back garden to Italy, the East coast of the USA, and the Scilly Isles, the Shetlands, France, and a health spa. We’re hoping that you, dear reader, are already relaxing in a deck-chair, while catching up on MusiCB3, but if not here are some musical ideas inspired by the holidaying librarians of MusiCB3.

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