Sir Arthur Edward Drummond Bliss
by Mark Gertler
oil on canvas, 1932
© National Portrait Gallery, London
August 2nd 2016 is the 125th anniversary of the birth of Sir Arthur Bliss. At the University Library, we are celebrating this with a music corridor exhibition (opening first week of August 2016) focusing on three major strands: Bliss as a composer, the Battle of the Somme and Bliss’s legacy today.
At MusiCB3, we have shared quite a few Bliss related posts that highlight various aspects of the life and work of Arthur Bliss and of the collections held at the Bliss Archive, bequeathed to Cambridge University Library by Lady Bliss.
These past two weeks, the Pendlebury Library of Music has once again played host to some Year 10 work experience students who are studying at local schools. Here’s a taste of what they got up to…
Whilst classifying books for UL stock a few days ago, I came across a pile of books in French. They were originally part of the IAML library, and were all on various aspects of music librarianship. My knowledge of French is minimal non-existent, and my normal tactic would be to try and get these dealt with and off my desk as quickly as possible, without lingering to flick through them much or trying to decipher more than I needed to. This time, however, one of them seemed worth trying to decipher in a bit more detail, as this fell out of the back of it:
Le jeu de l’oie de l’edition musicale
Portrait of Hans Keller by Milein Cosman, found in a notebook from the early 1950s. © Cambridge University Library. Published with the kind permission of the Cosman Keller Art and Music Trust.
Tucked away in the Hans Keller Archive here at the University Library is a cache of material from the early years of Keller’s career, much of which has, so far, not yet seen the light of day: his literary writings and aphorisms. There are about 30 short stories – many of them less than 500 words – in English and German, some of which were entries for competitions run by journals aimed at the emerging writer.
Exploring the relationship between music and science is a vast area of research which has evolved significantly over the past centuries.
Detail from Musurgia Universalis. Frontispiece
The obvious place to start is in Ancient Greece in the 6th century BC with Pythagoras, who has been credited with establishing the numerical basic of acoustics and the theory of numerical ratios. These concepts have led to a line of thought focussed on music as a mathematical science, concerned with ratios of musical intervals, the development of the monochord, and the concept of music of the spheres, where (perfect) harmonic intervals are explained as and considered to be reflections of the perfect harmonies and the order of the cosmos. Continue reading