MusiCB3: What has your road to librarianship been?
Margaret Jones: It’s a bit of a complicated tale as I sort of fell into music librarianship accidentally. I read Music at University College of North Wales, Bangor, where I studied composition under William Mathias; I then came to Cambridge to do a PGCE in Music and English.
I hated classroom teaching (although I enjoy and still am an instrumental teacher), but while playing the organ at Magdalene I revealed my love of history, and got roped into cataloguing the historical, political and legendary figures for the Pepys Ballad Collection catalogue. This was a lovely job which gave me the privilege of working in the Pepys Library with Samuel Pepys’ very own books.
Following that I became a Leverhulme Research Assistant working for the Cambridge Project for the Book. That was great fun; I read a huge amount of eighteenth-century English fiction, and was in and out of the Rare Books room at the UL all the time. After that I worked as a freelance musician / music-teacher and researcher; and then applied for a short-term contract here as a music cataloguer. It was only meant to be for 2 months, but 11 years later…..
What do you like most about the University Library / the Pendlebury Library’s Music Collections?
MJ: I love the range of material that’s here. Where else can you casually open a volume and find Lorca’s signature, or handle beautifully illustrated Japanese music some of it from the sixteenth-century, or admire some of the best quality music printing ever? There are so many fascinating items with wonderful stories behind them.
Do you read any foreign languages?
MJ: I’ve a good working knowledge of French, German and Latin; and can have a stab at Italian, Spanish, and Welsh.
What do you like about working in Cambridge most?
MJ: It’s easy to forget the beauty of the city when you’re stuck in a traffic jam. And then one day you’re walking across Clare Bridge (preferably in the autumn when it’s slightly misty and most of the tourists have stopped falling in the Cam) and it strikes you anew what a wonderful city it is. It’s also a great place to find an answer to just about anything.
Best day at work?
MJ: A good day at work would involve lots of research, and finding something unusual. I love working on archives, and was delighted one day to find a missing work. A set of sketches had been placed together by William Alwyn’s widow as the score to one film, I was able to disentangle the sketches and work out that they were actually the sketches for at least two different films shot back-to-back. Very satisfying.
I love the interaction with readers, especially anything research based from helping to find music for a song advertising Bovril to hunting for eighteenth-century watermarks.
What is/are your most favourite composer(s)/type(s) of music?
MJ: That’s a difficult one. I love Bach, and have recently discovered Handel’s operas. Haydn makes me happy, and I enjoy opera especially Verdi and Puccini.
I love twentieth-century music too. I enjoy English music – have to put in a word for William Alwyn here, whose archive I still look after, but also like Shostakovich, Richard Strauss, and Rachmaninoff; and am a big fan of Jehan Alain’s organ music – it’s hypnotic.
It’s not just classical music though, I like the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, and being Welsh, I guess, like Catatonia (now sadly defunct) and Manic Street Preachers. Ry Cooder and the Buena Vista Social Club always make me smile and I like trying out different kinds of world music.
Where did you live before moving to the region?
MJ: I was born in Newport in S. Wales (in what would become the hotel that hosted the Ryder Cup), lived in the Eastern Valley until I went to university in North Wales, but have lived in Cambridgeshire since 1989. I’ve lived in England now as long as I lived in Wales!
What is/are your instrument(s)?
MJ: I was an organ scholar at Bangor Cathedral, and still play the organ regularly. I also play and teach piano and guitar.
Any hidden talents?
MJ: Ummmm – I’m pretty good at training dogs (although I don’t know whether my dogs would agree), can recite the alphabet backwards, and whistle Mozart when I’m happy (although I’m not sure if that counts as a talent or not!)
Margaret Jones works in the Music Department of Cambridge University Library.
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