Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975)

The University Library holds a selection of composer and music related archives and actively seeks to extend these collections. One of our main criteria in the selection of music archives is establishing whether there is a “Cambridge link”, but it is by no means the only one.

For the composer archives there is often an extra dimension involved, where in the context of curating the archive, the library is also represented in composer societies or trusts, founded in order to promote and perform the respective composer’s music.

One of these it the Arthur Bliss archive. The archive contains nearly all autograph manuscripts and many printed editions corrected and amended by the composer. There are also programmes of performances, sound recordings, correspondence, newspaper cuttings, and photographs. The library promotes this excellent collection on the webpages and through exhibitions, but this isn’t all.

The Bliss Trust and the Arthur Bliss Society are both in their own way active in supporting the understanding and appreciation of Sir Arthur Bliss’s music.

In addition, another objective of The Bliss Trust is to promote the education and further education of students of composition and young composers. One of the ways this is done is by offering prizes and scholarships.

On the scholarship front, there is some good news for both our budding and more established composers. Sir Arthur Bliss was not only a prominent musical figure in British musical life (as composer, conductor, director of music at the BBC, Master of the Queen’s Music…), he also had very close links and family connections within the USA. In order to enable a new generation of composers to benefit from an experience of studying abroad, and more specifically in the USA, the Bliss Trust now offers a scholarship for the study of composition. The scholarship is still in its early years and not everyone will have heard of it, so do spread the word to anyone who might be interested in applying.


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