Whose side are you on?

There was a new arrival in the Music Department at the UL, this week: a copy of Carl Wilhelm’s famous song, Wacht am Rhein, translated here, by Henry Brougham Farnie, as The Watch by the Rhine, or as it is more usually known in English, The Watch on the Rhine.

Somehow or other, this publication had slipped through the Legal Deposit net, when it was first published; but when exactly was it published? Anti-German sentiment was high during the First World War, it was very unlikely that it would have been published in London during that period, and although it makes an appearance in Casablanca, when it is sung by a group of Nazis (actually the actor, Conrad Veidt and friends, many of whom were themselves self-imposed exiles or refugees from Hitler’s Reich), the Marseillaise definitely wins that particular competition.

The secret of this publication lies in the phrase “Now being sung by The Army of the Rhine,” and an entry for Stationer’s Hall.

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1920s Cambridge : some musical snapshots

This week it was time to swap over the items in the Pendlebury Library exhibition case, to replace the collection of historical audio-visual formats that have been on display there for the last couple of months. MusiCB3 readers were promised some 1920s-themed posts, and so I thought I would collect together a few things related to the early 1920s musical scene in Cambridge.

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Behind the notes: Keller, Beethoven and Functional Analysis

Beethoven by Joseph Willibrord Mähler, 1815.

You may have noticed, dear reader, that this year we celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. So, to kick off our own celebrations here at MusiCB3, I thought we would combine two extraordinary musical minds and look at Hans Keller’s functional analyses of two of Beethoven’s best-loved works: his String Quartet in F minor, Op. 95 (FA No. 2) and his Piano Concerto no. 4 in G major, Op. 58 (FA No. 8). Here, then, goes…

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On leaving Schoenberg

“On leaving Schoenberg”
The reverse side of a group photo featuring Roberto Gerhard and Arnold Schoenberg (see below)

Roberto Gerhard, who died 50 years ago on January 5th, was one of the most important composers to have lived in Cambridge. Born in Valls near Barcelona in 1896 to a Swiss-German father and Alsatian mother he was brought up fluent in Spanish, Catalan, German and French. He studied the piano with Granados, and composition with Felipe Pedrell, who had also taught de Falla, Albéniz, and Granados. He was Pedrell’s last pupil, and after Pedrell’s death in 1922 Gerhard studied with Arnold Schoenberg from 1924 to 1928, first in Vienna and then in Berlin. He met Poldi (Leopoldina) Feichtegger in Vienna in 1925, and after their marriage in 1930 they settled in Barcelona. They remained close friends of the Schoenbergs, who visited them in the summer of 1932.

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Poles apart

Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge

In 2020, the Scott Polar Research Institute, here in Cambridge, is celebrating its centenary. Following the tragic deaths of Robert Falcon Scott, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, Lawrence Oates, and Edgar Evans, while returning from their expedition to the South Pole, public sympathy led to a large sum of money being raised to support their families, and to maintain the legacy of the expedition.

£6,000 of the £76,000 raised was used by Cambridge University to set up Scott Polar, which moved into its current lodgings on Lensfield Road in 1934. SPRI have a good collection of polar related music and music literature, some of which was associated with Scott’s original expedition (discover this on iDiscover). It includes CDs featuring the music which accompanied the expedition to the Pole – comic songs were popular, as was Enrico Caruso and the latest in musical theatre. alongside opera highlights, the Blue Danube, and the National Anthem. Here at the UL, we’ve also got an interesting collection of music charting the fascination for polar expeditions that would eventually lead to Scott’s own fateful journey.

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2020: Looking forward…

To follow on from last week’s post looking back over 2019, today we look ahead for a glimpse of what’s in store for MusiCB3 in the coming year, as well as some of the musical anniversaries and events coming up at the beginning of the new decade.

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2019 : That was the year that was, that was

A very Happy 2020 to all our readers, we hope you survived (enjoyed!) the festivities, and are looking forward to a musical new year.

In the usual MusiCB3 tradition, we’re looking back this week at the highlights of 2019, as well as celebrating the lives of some of those who have passed away through the course of the year.

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