One of the things I enjoy about being a music librarian are the range of unusual queries that readers come up with. In my time at the UL I’ve been asked about obscure T.S. Eliot quotations involving music, songs about Bovril, the musical heritage of limericks, the connection between sol-fa and a South African great-grandfather; and there have been a couple of attempts (mostly successful) to identify photos of unknown musicians and snippets of unidentified musical works.

Usually the departmental teams are great at solving most queries, but occasionally there’s one that just stumps you, and the latest puzzle is currently sitting not far away from my desk….

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Late night at the Pendlebury

There is a concentrated hush fallen on Cambridge. The quiet of the spring-time meadows and college courts is broken only by the sounds of pages turning, pen scratchings, laptop-tappings, printer jams, and whispered curses emanating from libraries around the town. As many readers of MusiCB3 will be aware, it’s exam season here in Cambridge. There is, however, no need to panic – Revision Week at the Pendlebury Library begins on Monday! For this week only we are extending our opening hours at the Pendlebury, so that the library will be open from 9:30 am until 7:00 pm Monday to Friday. Come and study in the Reading Room, bind your coursework, or check books out until late in your favourite faculty library! To get in the spirit of the late opening hours, MusiCB3 has put together a few suggestions for night-time themed music to listen to. So whether you work better with music on, or just need a break from working, read on…

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To celebrate, to commemorate: David Munrow

David Munrow’s first professional concert took place in 1967, his last in May 1976. During those short eight and a half years, his star blazed across the musical sky. He probably did more than any other single person to popularise early music and to move period performance into the mainstream.

May 15th is the fortieth anniversary of David’s shockingly untimely death which shook the musical world. His work on the popular radio series Pied piper and his work on television endeared him to many who (formerly) knew little about music. David’s engaging manner captivated his listeners, and made them feel that he was a friend. One letter of condolence expresses this very clearly: “…I am only one of countless music lovers who have enormously enjoyed and been grateful for your husband’s tremendous contribution to the knowledge of early music…Just through radio alone he had become so familiar that I feel as though I had lost a friend”.

And yet, David never intended to be a musician, it all started in Cambridge…

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Easter term updates at the Pendlebury Library

Sweet treats Copyright: Helen Snelling

Sweet treats
Copyright: Helen Snelling

The start of a new term at the Pendlebury Library sees everyone going up a gear – students revising for examinations and trying to meet deadlines for course submissions and recital programmes.

Here in the library we try to provide encouragement, support and an oasis of calm.  Here are some of the new developments.

Revision Week at the Pendlebury Library starts on Monday 16th May, prior to the written examinations. This year, the Library is trialling later opening hours during Revision Week 16-20 May.  The library will be open and staffed from 09:30 through to 19:00, allowing students more time to study uninterrupted in the Reading Room.  As usual, a little extra chocolate help will be on offer to aid the revision… Continue reading

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“Please send some cocoa”: Hans Keller’s letters from internment

Letter from Keller to his Mother Grete, 2 January 1941 from Ramsey, Isle of Man.

Exterior of a letter from Keller to his Mother Grete, 2 January 1941 from Ramsey, Isle of Man.
© Cambridge University Library

In the summer of 1940, in the face of what seemed the inexorable advance of Nazi Germany across Europe towards English shores, bringing with it the fear of imminent invasion, the British Government decided that it would be expedient to arrest and intern in special camps all “Enemy Aliens”. “Collar the lot!” declared Churchill – never mind that many of them had been settled in the country for years, never mind that many had just escaped unimaginable horrors at the hands of the Nazis. Hans Keller was one of those rounded up, and in the Keller Archive here at the University Library, we hold the Internment Letters he wrote to his mother and other family members which provide a tantalising glimpse into this regrettable episode.

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Yehudi Menuhin Centenary

This April is the centenary month of Yehudi Menuhin, who was born in New York on 22nd April 1916, to Russian-Jewish parents. Described by his biographer Humphrey Burton as “the most famous kid on the planet” Yehudi was playing full-length recitals by the time he was eight, and had begun recording by the time he was eleven.


Yehudi Menuhin. Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

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The worm that trilled

For most of this week, courtesy of watching The Talented Mr. Ripley at the weekend, Gabriel Yared‘s score has been firmly lodged inside my head.

A few years ago I took part in the annual Harkive music day. It’s a fascinating project which takes a snapshot (an instant recording might be a better term) of what people are listening to on a single day. You can see what was being listened to in 2015 here. Although I wasn’t altogether surprised by the music I listened to throughout that day, what did surprise me was the amount of music that audio-streamed itself through my head – my own personal sound-system better known as an ear-(or brain-) worm.

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