Robert Thurston Dart

If you have been reading our blog, you are undoubtedly already aware that the University Library holds many unique and fascinating music archives in various shapes and forms.
The composer archives are probably best known, since they are quite prominently displayed on the music webpages (banner and Quick links).  An area that may be less well known is that of musicians and musicologist archives, although we have had some excellent and notable acquisitions and donations over the years such as for example Hans Keller and Deryck Cooke.

"Trois morceaux inédits & inconnus" by Alcetur [c.1550] copied by Dart and dedicated to C. van den Borren.

“Trois morceaux inédits & inconnus” by Alcetur [c.1550] copied by Dart and dedicated to C. van den Borren. ©CUL

Our most recent addition to this is the Thurston Dart Archive. Some months ago the library was approached by Greg Holt to see whether we would be interested in creating a Dart Archive. Our response was most certainly positive, since Dart started his career as a musicologist here in Cambridge at the Faculty of Music, where he was first an assistant lecturer and later became Professor of Music.

Robert Thurston Dart (1921-1971) was well known for being a performer as well as a musicologist. For Dart research informed performance and vice versa so that everything was very closely integrated. Now, to us today this may seem quite obvious, but in Dart’s days the impact of his approach cannot be underestimated. A certain generation of musicologists will undoubtedly also vividly remember “The interpretation of music”, which for quite some time had become standard reading on many reading lists. The result of this can still be seen today on LibrarySearch: more than 20 printed copies are currently available on Cambridge libraries’ shelves. Dart was one of the founding fathers of the Musica Britannica series -he was secretary from 1950-1965- and the archive contains some of the related correspondence.

"Trois morceaux inédits & inconnus" by Alcetur [c.1550] copied by Dart and dedicated to C. van den Borren.

“Trois morceaux inédits & inconnus” by Alcetur [c.1550] copied by Dart and dedicated to C. van den Borren. ©CUL

As far as the Thurston Dart Archive is concerned, the word “creating” is used deliberately and is quite unusual from an archival point of view. The material was dispersed to such an extent that various components needed to be brought together in order to establish one collection. Greg himself donated archival materials consisting of music manuscripts, correspondence, administrative documents, photographs and miscellany. Most of this material reflects Dart’s professional activities, but there are exceptions, including a wartime letter, a family album of photographs and some juvenilla. The Royal College of Organists kindly agreed to transfer Dart’s John Bull material containing several versions of chapters from an unfinished (and never published) book on Bull. A third component, which was very recently donated by Leslie East, consists of annotated scores formerly belonging to Dart, some with notes or articles tucked inside. Many of these are signed with his famous calligraphic initials. And there may be more to add to this.

The music department is currently processing the archive, which will have its own space in our to be created “musicologist and musicians” section on the UL’s music webpages, but you are already welcome to contact us with any queries.

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1 Response to Robert Thurston Dart

  1. Pingback: Tudor Treasures | MusiCB3 Blog

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