From the back row of the stalls: Hans Keller and film music

Film flyers from the 40s and 50s in the Keller Archive. © Cambridge University Library.

In its relation to its audiences, film music is the most disquieting problem child of contemporary art (the stress being not only on ‘problem’, but also on ‘child’).”

So begins an unpublished article written by Hans Keller in August 1947 for the journal Now-a-days. It was a problem he decided, unilaterally, about which Something Must Be Done and so he appointed himself a one-man pressure group to (a) do what he could to raise awareness of the importance of music as an integral element of any self-respecting film and (b) to institute the practice of serious critical reviews of film music as an entity in itself. It would become a preoccupation (one might even say an obsession) for over a decade. Continue reading

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My 1355 days at the Pendlebury Library

When you read this blog post I’ll have already left my position as a Library Assistant at the Pendlebury Library and I’ll be enjoying some days off before starting my new job at the British Library as a Music cataloguer. It seems to me like it was only yesterday when, on 29th July 2013, I entered the Pendlebury Library for the first time (actually, the first time had been a few weeks earlier for the job interview). It was a sunny and quiet day, almost nobody around. The calm before the storm. Only two months later, at the beginning of the new academic year, the situation was completely different: almost 200 new faces to remember and all sorts of requests. Joys and sorrows of working in academic libraries 🙂


Cambridge, Faculty of Music

Since then, 1355 days have passed, more than 44 months. Certainly I haven’t spent all my days at the Pendlebury (holidays are an essential and satisfying part of the job!), but I will say that I have spent many pleasant days that I’m sure I’ll remember as an important and enjoyable step in my career as a librarian. Continue reading

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Scott Joplin at the UL and the Pendlebury

Scott Joplin died on 1st April, 1917. The centenary of his death last week seemed a good moment to investigate what the UL and Pendlebury collections held relating to the ‘King of Ragtime’…



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Favourite music related reads at the UL

Symphony for the city of the dead /
M.T. Anderson (M674.c.201.29)

A few weeks ago, Kate posted about the perils of classifying music literature at the UL. During my fifteen years here, I’ve had my fair share of music related reads, and thought I would share some of my favourites here.

Very recently M.T. Anderson’s Symphony for the city of the dead (M674.c.201.29) arrived on my desk for classification. I was completely gripped by the subject matter, the cover artwork and a quick scan of the first few pages. The siege of Leningrad and the music that came out of it has long been an interest of mine, and I couldn’t resist it; but this was to prove a rather different read to what I was expecting.

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Cambridge Professors of Music: Maurice Greene

Portrait of Maurice Greene by Francis Hayman

I promised – possibly rashly – in my previous post on our current little exhibition about the early Professors of Music here in Cambridge that I would write a little more about Maurice Greene. So here goes: in a nutshell, Greene succeeded Thomas Tudway as Professor in 1730 and remained in the post until his death in 1755. Perhaps, in Cambridge, he is best-remembered for being the composer whose music was performed at the grand opening of the new Senate House in 1730. But there is, of course, more to his story than that… Continue reading

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Concerts, tea, and Postman Pat

I started my work placement at the Pendlebury Library of Music on Monday 6th March, coming from Witchford Village College. I was quite excited to find out about the library and what sort of tasks I would be set as the two weeks unfolded.

Music Scores at the Pendlebury Library

Music Scores at the Pendlebury Library

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Musical mutts

Relaxing to Debussy
Copyright Margaret Jones

As one of the world’s largest dog-shows, Crufts, swings into action at the NEC Birmingham, this music librarian / dog lover thought it was about time to have a look at the relationship between dogs and music. I’ve owned dogs for most of my life, and coming from a music loving family, the dogs all grew up with music.

Their responses were rather different – Regis, the German Shepherd, hated Wagner – a quick burst of Tannhauser, and he would exit the room with a glower at the offending pianist (usually me), Ben, the English Springer, would howl along to Non piu andrai from The Marriage of Figaro, while a later English Springer, Alfie, heaved a contented sigh whenever I played his favourite work – Debussy’s First Arabesque, his companion, Dylan Yorkie-Cross, was not a fan of classical music, but loved Easy Listening with a particular penchant for Cole Porter.

This led to an interesting conversation when the dogs spent time in kennels. The kennels played Radio 2 to the dogs (good for Dills, less so for Alfie), while the cattery side had Radio 3 only. Continue reading

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