Cambridge’s musical records

Friends event poster

Friends event poster ©CUL

The title of this Friends event sums up quite nicely what I would like to put in the limelight this week: archival records with a “musical theme” that are held at the Music and the Manuscripts Department of Cambridge University Library.

In recent years, there have been many additions to our archival collections. Enough for us to have started thinking (and talking) about them as the “music archives” and to start distinguishing between composer archives, music scholar archives and performer archives, although this categorisation is only a tool in a field where there tends to be a fair amount of overlap. I briefly contemplated including a link to all the MusiCB3 blogs we have already dedicated to various aspects of the archival collections, but there are so many I think it’s more fun if I leave you to explore.

This particular contribution is dedicated to our most recent music corridor exhibition which focuses on two important new donations representing two pillars of British musicology: the Thurston Dart Archive and the Stanley Sadie Archive.

Dart signature

Dart signature. ©CUL

Dart playing viol (by unknown photographer)

Dart playing viol (by unknown photographer) ©CUL

It is almost a year ago since I last wrote about Dart. Since then, we have received some very interesting additions to the original archive, which now includes sound recordings as well as additional correspondence. Although this particular archive can never be comprehensive with history leading to so much of the potential material to be either dispersed, sold or in the worst case lost, the diversity of the content does give us a flavour of Dart the music scholar (working on John Bull, corresponding with colleagues and students), Dart the editor (going through several stages of proofs), Dart the performer, and last but not least, Dart as an individual, supporting and encouraging a whole new generation of music scholars.

Stanley Sadie with Charles Cudworth

Stanley Sadie with Charles Cudworth (©CUL/J.Goode)

The Stanley Sadie Archive arrived with us last summer as a gift from his widow Julie Anne. Stanley Sadie (1930–2005) studied in Cambridge (Gonville and Caius College, BA, MusB 1953, MA 1957, PhD 1958) and went on to become an eminent musicologist, music critic and editor. His many fields of interest included opera, Mozart, Handel, J.C. Bach and Boccherini. From 1970 to 2000 he was editor of the New Grove dictionaries. He worked as music critic for The Times (1964–1981) and Gramophone (1965–2004) and as editor of the Musical Times (1967–1987). He served as President of both the Royal Musical Association (1989–1994) and the International Musicological Society (1992–1997). In 1981 he was awarded an Honorary LittD by the University of Leicester and in 1982 appointed CBE. He was a Visiting Fellow at Sidney Sussex College in 1993 and, near the end of his life, an Honorary Fellow of Gonville and Caius. The Stanley Sadie Archive is a very substantial collection, containing a wide range of materials relating to Sadie’s time in Cambridge as well as to his professional activities as music scholar, music critic and of course also as editor. There is an absolute treasure of information contained in the archive, and the corridor exhibition will show a selection from it for the first time.

As you will be able to see from the exhibition, there is no such thing as a typical music scholar archive, although there tend to be many similarities and cross references. This is of course quite natural, since there is also no such thing as the typical music scholar. What most of our music scholar archives do have in common is that they reflect the working life and methods of the individual. It is however, always very exciting when we come across materials that supplement each other or where we find connections. We have a lovely example of this: Stanley Sadie’s Cambridge note books, showing his notes for the course of lectures on musical notation by… Thurston Dart.

This year, music libraries and music archives in the UK and Ireland are receiving some well deserved attention through many events, including the Friends event, which takes place in association with IAML(UK & Irl) on the occasion of its Golden Jubilee.


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