Songs of War: Passchendaele 1917

Château Wood near Hooge, 29 October 1917. Photo by Frank Hurley

This month, the University Library entrance hall display cases feature Basil Godfrey Quin, MC whose regiment, the Cambridgeshires, was involved in the Third Battle of Ypres (also known as Passchendaele) which took place between July and November 1917 and in which Quin distinguished himself with his bravery during the battle at Tower Hamlets Ridge on 26 September 1917.  We here at MusiCB3 thought that we would complement this display with a look at some of the music which Quin may have heard, or even sung himself, at the time. Continue reading

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Meet… Catherine Taylor

MusiCB3: What has your road to librarianship been?


Catherine in the UL Anderson Room

As part of my YTS Training Scheme, I was given a work placement in the library at Lion Yard. I also worked in the library of Cambridge College of Further Education (now Cambridge Regional College). That experience led on to working here in the UL.

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Tuesday 5th September marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of John Cage. Here at MusiCB3 we wondered if there should be a particular way of celebrating this most quirky of composers? Perhaps there should be a blank post – a visual equivalent of the famous 4′ 33″ (MRS.8.540)? This idea may not be quite as daft as it sounds, as curators of museum installations have mused upon similar ideas. An exhibition organized by the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona in 2009 initially thought about having an empty room at the centre of their John Cage celebrations. They subsequently decided on a different approach deciding that the empty room might be too confusing for visitors (Is it meant to be empty? Could the art-works have been stolen? Am I lost?). There’s a fascinating post about the background to the exhibition here.

Ironically to think of 4′ 33″ as being about silence is to misunderstand the piece. It is as much about sound as it is about silence.

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Vesta Tilley at the UL

When I’m not in Cambridge lurking behind the scenes of MusiCB3, another of my haunts is Worcester. Back there last week for the longest time in a while, I noticed quite a few changes around the town that had sprung up since my last proper visit. Elgar’s statue has a shiny new plinth, and he is keeping a watchful eye on the building works going on opposite the cathedral. In another part of town four new statues have appeared – walking through the Cornmarket one day on my way to Asda I was greeted by Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway, King Charles II, Woodbine Willie, and another musical Worcester character, Vesta Tilley.

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On the street

Kouter 1763

Kouter Square, Ghent, 1763. Public domain
STAM, Stadsmuseum, Gent.

I’ve just finished cataloguing a new edition of an eighteenth century chorus for 3 voices and continuo De roep van de strate (MRA.260.201.97). What particularly fascinated me about it is that it is a selection of street cries ostensibly following the tradesmen and women that worked in Ghent‘s Kouter Square during a Sunday morning market around 1752. The cries were published in a collection of “old and new songs” collected by Ferdinand Augustijn Snellaert in the nineteenth century, part of the growing interest across Europe in folk music.

Street cries have always fascinated me, ever since coming across an arrangement of Thomas Weelkes‘ “humorous fancy”, a setting of the Cryes of London in an old News Chronicle anthology (M205.b.90.2) as a child. So come with me for a musical shopping trip across Europe… Continue reading

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“At a festival you are bound to enjoy yourself”: Hans Keller at the Edinburgh Festival

A selection of programmes for the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival in the Hans Keller Archive.
© Sarah Chapman.

Founded by Rudolph Bing, Henry Harvey Wood and Sidney Newman, The Edinburgh Festival celebrates its 70th birthday this year – to which we at MusiCB3 wish many happy returns! There is an excellent account of the generation of the Festival on their website which explains: “Our founding ideal vision was never so clearly embodied than in our inaugural year, when, following Nazi persecution, the renowned conductor Bruno Walter was re-united with the Vienna Philharmonic.” Bing, a Viennese opera impresario had also supported John Christie in the establishment of Glyndebourne Opera after his move to London in 1934 and Newman was Reid Professor of Music at Edinburgh University. In the audience for those concerts was another who had survived that persecution, having escaped Vienna in December 1938 by the skin of his teeth and come to London to join his mother and sister – Hans Keller.

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New DVDs at the Pendlebury

July was a good month for DVDs here at the Pendlebury – there are now over 500 DVDs in our ‘opera and ballet’ section! Read on to discover some of the latest additions to stock…

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