“It was 50 years ago today…”

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in America on 2nd June 1967, shortly after the UK release. The golden anniversary of the Beatles’ alter ego band is being celebrated by various events, such as a ‘Sgt, Pepper at 50’ festival in Liverpool, and the release of a new documentary about the band. In the 50 years since Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play (or should that be 70, actually?) various Beatles-related items have arrived at the UL. With a little help from my friends over at the Pendlebury, I have put together a small selection of Beatles-related finds, which should be enough to keep you going for at least eight days a week…

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Celebrating Purcell: treasure trove in the Keller Archive

Second of two concerts marking the 250th anniversary of Purcell’s death.

That caught your eye, dear reader, didn’t it? But first, I must come clean to my many delightful Keller followers: this is not about the man himself or indeed his insights into Purcell (not that I’m aware he had any). Instead, I want to concentrate on a fascinating item which came to light in his archive last week (or maybe it was the week before). Others of you will know of my interest in concert programmes and the tantalising glimpses they give of concert life in times past – it is this which will be the focus of what follows. Intrigued? Then read on… Continue reading

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In the mood?


It’s exam season, and libraries across Cambridge are packed with students frantically revising. It’s an odd time of the year to be a librarian – some days our reading rooms are full to bursting, then they fall eerily silent before examinees return like birds of passage for a brief stop-over before the next exam.

Many relieve the monotony of revision and shut themselves away from the world by gluing themselves to their head-phones. It reminded me of my own days as a student, listening to Kate Bush ad nauseam while revising for my A-levels (Wuthering Heights still reminds me of a very bad production of Henry IV, Part I, courtesy of an English Lit A-level).

I wondered what advice other librarians would give about music for study? Did they have particular favourites, helpful hints, or horror stories? Here’s some of the combined wit and wisdom of Cambridge librarians…

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E is for…Ebooks or Exams?

You may have seen some recent reports in the press about the demise of eBooks… but in academic circles this is not necessarily the case.  A couple of weeks after these reports, the eBooks team at Cambridge University Library published a blogpost analysing eBook usage for 2016 in the University, recording 3.3 million hits for that year.

At exam time, when most libraries are filling up with students revising for exams, eBooks can be a saviour when the book you desperately need to refer to can’t be found in any library!   Students sometimes find it difficult to search for eBooks, but “iDiscover”, the online library catalogue for the University of Cambridge, has a filter for eBooks on the drop-down menu at the main search box:
Ebooks iDiscover search

EBook records in a list of results should be identifiable by the words [electronic resource] in square brackets after the title, and also by a link that says Online access.

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New audio visual arrivals at the Pendlebury

Life at the Pendlebury is busy at the moment, with a lot of revision going on and the submission drop box in constant use. My favourite thing about this term is quite possibly the many triumphant exam submission selfies that get taken in front of the drop box as students bid farewell to their coursework once and for all! In spite of the hustle and bustle of exam term, however, there are still plenty of things being added to library stock. This week on MusiCB3 we have a few new DVDs and CDs to show off…

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Musical chairs

It was a very sad day in the Anderson Room on the 26th April 2017 when we bade farewell to our comfy blue chairs that have been part of the Anderson Room at the UL since at least 1935. The chairs have supported many a reader over the last 80+ years, but the pressure has become too much for their sycamore legs. As part of the original fittings of the building, they will be preserved in another part of the UL, somewhere that hopefully is less stressful for them. So, what sights have these chairs seen since they arrived here in the 1930’s, and how did they come to be in the Anderson Room?

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From the back row of the stalls: Hans Keller and film music

Film flyers from the 40s and 50s in the Keller Archive. © Cambridge University Library.

In its relation to its audiences, film music is the most disquieting problem child of contemporary art (the stress being not only on ‘problem’, but also on ‘child’).”

So begins an unpublished article written by Hans Keller in August 1947 for the journal Now-a-days. It was a problem he decided, unilaterally, about which Something Must Be Done and so he appointed himself a one-man pressure group to (a) do what he could to raise awareness of the importance of music as an integral element of any self-respecting film and (b) to institute the practice of serious critical reviews of film music as an entity in itself. It would become a preoccupation (one might even say an obsession) for over a decade. Continue reading

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