“If there is any point in an anniversary at all (victimization by over-exposure apart) it is a momentary pause: we stop at the traffic lights to reflect, for a moment, upon where we are going. Or rather, we know where we’re going, or think we know, but we think about what it means – perhaps even about what it means to have got that far.”
So wrote Hans Keller for a talk broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1974 to mark the Schoenberg centenary. Next month we celebrate Hans Keller’s own Centenary with a series of not-to-be-missed events in both London and Cambridge, so it seems reasonable not only to alert you, dear readers, to what is coming up, but also to stop at those traffic lights and reflect.
Which is exactly what Alison Garnham and I have been doing for the past three years as we have worked on our biography of Keller – Hans Keller, 1919-1985: a musician in dialogue with his times – which was, I am delighted to say, published by Routledge just before Christmas. Keller not only had an impact on his own times, but on a generation of those coming after him who in their turn have influenced the next generation. Indeed Keller himself was adamant that he wrote for the future and that the issues with which he dealt would retain their importance. What, he seems to ask throughout his writing, his talks and his teaching, is the purpose of music? Now, as his centenary approaches, seems an ideal time to explore further and so, to celebrate, the Cosman Keller Art and Music Trust have arranged a series of events, starting with the launch of the biography on 4th March at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
Next Thursday is the Feast of St. Valentine. In the Anderson Room we have a pop-up exhibition celebrating St. Valentine’s Day, with some lovely examples of Victorian Valentine’s music, and an unusual “naval” Valentine celebrating an all-too-real battle (more on that on MusiCB3 in a few weeks’ time).
Sarah has collected a selection of Valentine’s related music, and has been investigating the not so saccharine story of the “real” St. Valentine.
You may remember that a while ago, Kate celebrated the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper with a blog-post. It gave us a great chance to show off our copy of the LP, an American imprint, that is, perhaps surprisingly, part of the Sir Arthur Bliss Archive.
Two years on, there is another 50th anniversary. For on January 30th, 1969, the Beatles performed live for the final time, on the roof of the Apple Building in Savile Row, London. Although two more albums (Let it be and Abbey Road) were issued following the concert, relationships within the group became increasingly strained, and the recording of I want you (She’s so heavy) at Abbey Road Studios in August ’69 was to be the last occasion on which the foursome were together. Our latest pop-up exhibition in the Anderson Room features some Beatles memorabilia from an unusual publication.
A surprising number of composers have composed works aimed at a juvenile audience. In some cases this has complemented their work as a music teacher, in others they have wanted to introduce their music to younger members of the family. Some have wanted to pass on their passion for a particular style of music, and for some composers it’s an unusual Christmas present (“Just look at what Uncle Felix gave me!”). Others see composing for youngsters as the first step on the path to compositional greatness; and they’re not afraid to blow their own trumpet either: “Performed with the greatest success at the Promenade concerts, Covent Garden,” or (same work) “Performed with unprecedented success at the Promenade concerts, Covent Garden, and re-demanded nightly”.
What was this fantastically successful work? Who were happy to be compositional Father Christmases? And whose piano teaching influenced Liszt? For more, read on, and come and see our latest pop-up exhibition in the Anderson Room at the UL from 18th January-1st February.
Over the course of 2018 the MusiCB3 team has written 49 posts on items musical ranging from Roald Dahl inspirations to changing attitudes towards female composers. Victorian music continued to entertain, providing some of the most amusing posts. We learned to compose courtesy of the Melographicon, chortled at some rather alarming adverts in C19th concert programmes, and gasped at “Impossible ships in impractical positions“.
A post on a neglected box of parts led to an unexpected fondness for John Marsh, and an invitation to a blue plaque unveiling in Salisbury; there were reports from music library conferences in Leipzig and Edinburgh (we are already looking forward to Krakow 2019). Hans Keller and the Black Bear Music club made regular appearances, as did new arrivals at the Pendlebury.
Next week Kate will be looking forward to the year ahead, but for now, this is the year that was…