Treasure Grove?

Programme for 14 July 1890 Richter concert at St. James’s Hall [University Library concert programme collections]

Unaccountably the network was down in our end of the building one day last month, so with no access to a PC, it was back to real materials and I decided to sort through the box of programmes we have for the Hans Richter concerts at St. James’s Hall (which are from the 1890s). In doing so, I came across one battered programme with the words “very important” in a spidery pencil scrawl at the top next to what looked remarkably like George Grove’s signature in the corner…opening up (or rather, catching pages as the programme fell apart), what do I find but several pages of notes and extensive annotations to the programme note for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony all in Sir George’s handwriting. How exciting, I thought, I wonder how on earth this ended up here and how these annotations represent his continuing research on the work (culminating, of course, in his Beethoven and his nine symphonies).

Sir George Grove hardly needs an introduction: surely one of the most eminent among eminent Victorians, he was an engineer, a Bible scholar, an archaeologist, man of letters, administrator and musician and he was responsible for the development of what became the world-famous Grove’s Dictionary of Music.  As Percy Young says in his biography of Grove: “…among the Victorians there were some whose enterprises defy emulation. Grove was one of them.” [George Grove: a biography. Macmillan, 1980. p.9]

an example of Grove’s extensive annotations in the programme [University Library concert programme collections]

But where to start and how to move forward? Notes made on an existing printed article don’t necessarily mean that, although they may well inform and develop thinking, they will appear in subsequent essays verbatim. Nonetheless, I braved the basement stacks for the Library’s copy of Grove’s Beethoven and his nine symphonies and any post-1890 Crystal Palace programmes containing the Ninth, to see if I could match any of the amendments to the text. The note for the April 7th 1894 Crystal Palace concert is virtually the same (and given the limitations of space, this is hardly surprising). However, the account in Beethoven and his nine Symphonies is far more extended and so far, two of the annotations have been placed, but work is ongoing.

Grove’s note on Rossini’s quip on the scherzo of the ninth [University Library concert programme collections]

As to how this programme ended up here instead of at the Royal College of Music where the Grove archive is held, well, it is almost certainly part of a transfer of material from the Fitzwilliam Museum, which itself was presented to the Fitzwilliam by the Royal College of Music in November 1915 via William Barclay Squire [article by A. Hyatt King, in: The Library,
Fifth Series, Vol. XII, No. i, March 1957, p. 1-10; subscription required for online access], RCM Librarian at the time. How do we know? Along with the loose programmes there are a number of bound volumes of St. James’s Hall programmes, one of which belonged to George Grove and has a dated presentation label affixed to the end-paper on the inside cover. William Barclay Squire (1855-1927) had been recommended to Grove to undertake a study of the music in the Fitzwilliam Museum for the article on Libraries in Grove’s Dictionary (and indeed he went on to write over 130 articles for Grove for the Dictionary). Squire, an alumnus of Pembroke College, was Assistant Keeper of Music at the BM Library, but also Librarian at the RCM from 1894 and, in a personal capacity, a generous donor of materials to the Fitzwilliam, where in 1910 E.J. Dent (a Fellow at King’s College from 1902 and Professor of Music from 1926) became first Honorary Keeper of Music. If anyone has any information which might further confirm or correct this theory, then we would be delighted to hear from you.

Meanwhile, I’ll get back to comparing notes…


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One Response to Treasure Grove?

  1. Pingback: Meet… Susi Woodhouse | MusiCB3 Blog

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