Farewell to 2017

The festivities have come and gone, and it’s a brand new year. Susi will be blogging later this month about all the exciting musical things we have to look forward to in 2018 including, I suspect, a few MusiCB3 teasers; while Helen will be looking at our brand new Library Management System following the retirement of Voyager and Newton in December 2017.

The start of the year is always a good time to look back on the previous year, and its highs and lows, so here are some musical highlights and some fond farewells from 2017.

The year brought good news for Cambridge alumni, Huw Watkins, who won the 2017 Elise L. Stoeger prize, Ian Bostridge (Best Classical solo vocal album, with Antonio Pappano, for Shakespeare songs at the Grammy Awards),  and Richard Farnes, who won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Conductor’s Award.  There was especial praise for his impressive career with Opera North.

Adele and David Bowie dominated the Grammy Awards, while Ed Sheeran ruled both the end of year singles and albums charts; he was also responsible for most of the music that was streamed throughout the year. King’s College Choir took a sizeable chunk of the Xmas pudding featuring in 11 of the top 20 places in the UK Christmas classical album chart (week beginning 29th December) courtesy of a feast of festive recordings.

Rock ‘n’ Roll lost some great names in 2017 with the deaths of Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Tom Petty, and Robert “Bilbo” Walker. Country music mourned Glenn Campbell, and France lost the “French Elvis”, Johnny Hallyday.

The world of classical music was shocked by the early death of Dmitri Hvorostovsky in November, who was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow, near fellow Russian vocal hero, Feodor Chaliapin.

Other losses this year included conductor Jeffrey Tate, who read medicine at Cambridge before turning to conducting, and musicologist, Donald Mitchell, founder and later co-editor along with Hans Keller of Music Survey [Q409.c.26] as well as Faber Music.

Composer, Derek Bourgeois, who passed away in September,  must be responsible for one of music’s quirkiest and most joyous pieces, Serenade, written for his own marriage in 1965. Not content with the usual march, most of the work intended to speed the guests on their way is in 11/8, with a sprightly change to 13/8 in the middle.

Bourgeois read Music at Magdalene, and went on to become Director of the National Youth Orchestra, before teaching at St. Paul’s Girls’ School (a post formerly held by Gustav Holst and Herbert Howells). His delightful Bridges over the River Cam is a reminder of his student days drifting in a punt…

2017 saw a steady decline in album sales, though, perhaps surprisingly in view of the downturn for albums, sales of vinyl records continued to increase, up again from 2016 which saw the highest level of sales since 2006. Rock music seems to be the main driver for vinyl with around 67% of all records bought falling in the rock genre. It was no coincidence that 2017 was also the year in which MusiCB3 celebrated the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which topped US vinyl album sales (the Beatles also took No. 2 spot with Abbey Road).

The anniversary also led to a fascinating correspondence with staff and alumni at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Lehigh’s band “the Marching 97”  ended 2017 in style when they gave the UK premiere of Arthur Bliss’s Salute to Lehigh in London, before marching in the New Year’s Day parade. It seems a rather fitting way for MusiCB3 to bid farewell to 2017. Take it away, the Marching 97….

The “Marching 97” at Cadogan Hall
Click through for UK premiere of Sir Arthur Bliss’ “Salute to Lehigh”




About mj263

Music Collections Supervisor at Cambridge University Library. Wide musical interests. Often to be found stuck in a composer's archive, or enthusing about antiquarian music.
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