Darts, ruins, and a cimbalom

Very occasionally being a music librarian can take you to the most unexpected places. I’ve recently returned from a trip to Basel prompted by a production of a new ballet, Robin Hood, choreographed by British choreographer Richard Wherlock, the Director and Chief Choreographer of Ballett Basel. So, what was the connection with my usual life at the UL? Music for the ballet was primarily by British composers, and included two, whose archives we hold here – William Alwyn and Sir Arthur Bliss. London in the 1960s, John Barry and Arthur Bliss, dartboards and the Kray Twins…I had to find out what it was about.

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Cambridge Professors of Music, 1684 – 1821

Academic dress at Cambridge: DMus, third from left.

Academic dress for Scarlet Days at Cambridge: DMus, third from left.

This week, we are launching an exhibition covering the first five Professors of Music here in Cambridge, so a little background seemed in order.

The first Bachelor of Music degree in Cambridge was awarded to Henry Abyngdon in 1463, but it would be over 200 years later before the creation of the first Professor of Music in 1684. A grace and favour appointment, it brought with it no obligation for teaching, research or even residence in the City and certainly no formal documentation setting out the role and purpose of the post, neither did it carry any payment or endowment. The early professors were practising musicians and composers based primarily in London at, for example, the Chapel Royal or as Master of the King’s Musick, although some were also organists at Cambridge colleges. Their only official duty was to compose an Ode for the Installation of a Chancellor. Not until as late as 1875 did the Senate take the radical step of requiring that in exchange for an annual stipend of £200, the Professor should be required to give at least four lectures in music during the course of an academic year. Continue reading

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New CDs at the Pendlebury

This week on MusiCB3, we have a glimpse of a few of the new CDs available to borrow at the Pendlebury Library. Since the CDs at the Pendlebury are not browsable, as most of the books and scores are, it seems only fair to give them their five minutes of fame on here!

Here are a few of the most recent arrivals:

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Golf and flying opera singers: some distractions

The trouble with working in a library, I find, is that my ‘to read’ list grows too fast to ever get to the end of. Especially since at the moment I am studying (very slowly) for an MA, and so any books I read that are not to do with that naturally fill me with guilt (though not really) and the knowledge that I should be studying (I normally manage to overcome this feeling). At least if I write down the titles that sound interesting I can find these distractions again when I want them, I reason to myself…

With so many books passing under my nose on their way to the shelves, it becomes a very varied list, and includes things I would never have looked for otherwise. Books with bizarre titles or interesting covers (I am a very shallow person) often make it onto the list for no other reason. And so the list gets longer… Below are a few of the things that I hope to get around to reading one of these days:

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A musical year book

The Year's Music 1899 L409.d.24.

The Year’s Music 1899 L409.d.24.

I’ve always had a bit of a fondness for almanacs, yearbooks and old travel guides. What would probably have seemed at the time fairly uninteresting becomes something quite different when you’re viewing it over a hundred years later. Yearbooks and trade gazettes are great examples of time capsules displaying the interests and preoccupations of the period of which they were a reflection.

Recently some music literature in need of a new home arrived at the Pendlebury, one of the goodies included The year’s music 1899 (a partial run of the annual journal (1896-1898) could already be found at the UL, classmark L409.d.24). So, what was happening in 1899? Who were the famous names? What should you buy for the musician who has everything? You may be surprised…

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Child’s Play

Attending a librarians’ training event at the University of Cambridge, I was interested to see a Special Collections LibGuide – one on Children’s Literature in Cambridge libraries. It made me wonder what  might be in the Pendlebury Library of Music aimed at children.  Granted,  the foremost purpose  of the library is to support the Undergraduate teaching of the Music Tripos at the University, I nevertheless managed to find a few items…
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The Stanley Sadie Archive

Stanley Sadie with Charles Cudworth

Stanley Sadie with Charles Cudworth

The archive of the musicologist and music critic, Stanley John Sadie (1930-2005) was donated to Cambridge University Library in 2013 by Sadie’s widow and is an important addition to the Library’s existing music collections which include several archives of eminent British composers, musicians and musicologists.  A project to catalogue the collection is now underway and it is anticipated that the Stanley Sadie Archive will be made accessible to researchers by the summer of 2017. Continue reading

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