Reel Significance (I): Deryck Cooke and Havergal Brian

Thanks to a donation from an anonymous benefactor, it has been possible to make digital preservation copies of the dozens of reel-to-reel tapes that were in Deryck Cooke’s possession at the end of his life, and which are held at the UL as part of the Deryck Cooke Archive.

The 1966 performance of the ‘Gothic'; item held in the Pendlebury Library of Music as CD.M.885

An essential part of the project involves the careful examination of every recorded track in the attempt to put together a definitive list of what each of the 66 reels actually contains. Already three significant items have been found relating to the composer Havergal Brian (1876-1972). Continue reading

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Waterloo 2015

The dream of the Lion of Waterloo. CUL A1878.1515 ©CUL

The dream of the Lion of Waterloo. CUL A1878.1515 ©CUL

The bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 2015 is commemorated through a myriad of events and exhibitions in the UK. It was indeed a damned serious business, as is so aptly demonstrated in the University Library exhibition and certainly deserves our due attention. The Waterloo 2015 celebrations in Belgium focus on an actual re-enactment of the battle and a reconstruction of the encampment. This ambitious programme of events starts with an opening show called Inferno, a visual and musical interpretation of the battle by Luc Petit. As one would expect of such a significant event, the battle in specific as well as the political situation in general have been reflected in music over the past two-hundred years. Let’s start with looking at an excellent contemporary example which is held in our collections. Continue reading

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Renaissance musical treasures at the Pendlebury Library of Music

From the Pendlebury collections.

From the Pendlebury collections.

In the Pendlebury Library collection there are three printed books particularly representative of musical culture in sixteenth century Italy. They concern respectively music theory, musical pedagogy, and polyphony. The oldest of them is the treatise Musica Theorica by Ludovico Fogliani, published in Venice in 1529. Continue reading

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Wearing three hats: Hans Keller and concert programmes

Some of the many programmes in the Hans Keller ARchive

Some of the many programmes in the Hans Keller Archive

As I write this time, I can compete with Mr. Keller in the hat stakes, not only wearing my Hans Keller Archivist’s deerstalker, but also the extremely fetching fascinator I don when taking care of the concert programme collections at the University Library. Impossible, of course, in a single post to even begin to do justice to the programmes in the Archive (I haven’t even found them all yet). Instead, here is a pixie-hat-sized taster of the riches it contains.

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Ballets and bagpipes and audible birth?

What do lost ballets, trans-medial machines, sonic aspects of childbirth and an Argyll piper have in common?

Answer:  They all feature in current PhD research topics at the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge.

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The joy of mistakes

Reproduction of Alwyn's manuscript, as used for the premiere of the first symphony. Card indicates cuts made by Sir John Barbirolli. Wallpaper was originally used!

Photocopy of Alwyn’s manuscript, as used for the premiere of the first symphony.
Card indicates cuts made by Sir John Barbirolli, who originally used wallpaper!
MS.Alwyn.1.2.51

A few weeks ago I attended a music librarians’ conference. Among the many interesting talks was a panel discussion on issues around music digitisation. One of the items raised made me think about digitisation in a completely new light. A panellist from a prominent UK music publisher commented that with the rise of easily available digitisation, music was arriving at the publisher in an almost completed state. Gone are the days of waiting around for copyists to do their work, or trying to figure out whether the composer really meant to put that accidental where s/he appears to have put it, gone are the crossings and rubbings out. This must be a good thing surely with music arriving at the publisher fully polished,  produced more quickly and easily, and becoming rapidly more accessible. But are there any drawbacks to this improvement?

For some years I’ve been looking after the William Alwyn Archive in the University Library, and thinking about that collection alone, I’m relieved that William never discovered digitisation.

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The world’s most boring festival?

Hollyhocks.

Maru-ni-mitsuba’aoi (“Circle Around Three Hollyhock Leaves”)
Wikipedia

May 15th is the festival of Aoi Matsuri (officially known as the Kamo Festival), once referred to as “the world’s most boring festival“. As you may remember from an earlier MusiCB3 post, the staff of the Anderson Room also provide support in the East Asian Reading Room (the Aoi), so of course we had to bring this festival to your attention.

Aoi Matsuri is one of three major festivals that take place in Kyoto. The name of the festival comes from the hollyhock leaves used as decoration throughout the celebration. These leaves were once believed to protect against natural disasters. (Aoi means both hollyhock and blue (or a greeny blue) in Japanese – hence the decor in the reading room). Continue reading

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