About Helen Mason

Helen is a cataloguer at the Jerwood Library and has recently completed a MA in Music with the Open University.

Helen’s choice…New Orleans, birthplace of jazz

16939174_1750102671971393_5857764245892825047_n

The Old Jelly Rollers in New Orleans (photo used with permission)

Inspired by the success story of Trinity Laban’s student group Old Jelly Rollers heading off to New Orleans during CoLab, and vocalist Cherise Adams-Burnett, winning seats on the British Airways VIP party flight celebrating the airline’s new route, synchronising with our excellent volunteer Genia Browning completing yet another large chunk of indexing work on the Dan Pawson collection, it seemed a good moment to showcase some of the New Orleans music items held here in the Jerwood Library.

The items in the small display cabinet refer to the ‘birthplace of jazz’ and also show the range of materials in Dan Pawson’s collection some of which featured in a Jerwood Library exhibition of jazz materials mounted in 2013.

Was New Orleans the birthplace of jazz?  The New Orleans Official Guide Online (1) states:

“Some will say that Jazz was born in 1895, when Buddy Bolden started his first band. Others will say 1917, when Nick LaRocca and his Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded the first Jazz record, Livery Stable Blues. However, Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton also said, “It is evidently known, beyond contradiction, that New Orleans is the cradle of Jazz, and I myself happen to be the inventor in the year 1902”.

Collier (2) acknowledges that despite various claims that jazz arose in in other places in America, most give New Orleans as its birthplace. He doubts that Buddy Bolden was the originator, as contemporary reports describe his music as a blues-tinged mix of ragtime and popular songs. Collier suggests that a groups of ‘Creoles of color’ played a significant role, with their music having ‘a rhythmic snap akin to the “swing” of jazz.’

Whether it was Buddy Bolden, “Jelly Roll” Morton or the Creole band, New Orleans seems to be the place where it all happened.

The selected recordings in the cabinet feature, in particular, some recordings by cornet player Nick LaRocca, born 11th April 1889 in New Orleans and died 22nd Feb 1961 in New Orleans. Writing in the Grove Dictionary of Jazz,  Sudhalter (3) suggests

“It is beyond dispute that LaRocca’s energy and ambition were the driving force behind the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. His style impressed Bix Beiderbecke, who became a lifelong admirer, and the steady drive and rhythmic freedom of LaRocca’s playing on the band’s recordings of 1936 demonstrate this affinity. LaRocca also co-wrote such standards as At the Jazz Band Ball and Clarinet Marmalade”.

The author of the New Orleans website (1) also notes that “it’s both possible and probable that Nick LaRocca heard, and was influenced by Buddy Bolden, who had the most popular black band at the turn of the century.”

The library has some of LaRocca’s recordings, for example the Original Dixieland jazz band : jazz originators Vol.4 (re-issues by Jazz Collector, JEL21 of recordings made in ca.1918/1919), First jazz recording 1917: the Original Dixieland Jazz Band (issued by Philips, BBE 12488), and the CD re-issue entitled New Orleans: Where Jazz was born (issued by Jazz Roots, CD 56021) [this last has been loaded into the juke box in the North Library for quick listening].

Collier (2) notes that “the  Original Dixieland Jazz Band was an enormous success, and its February 1917 recordings for Victor were the first jazz recordings. These became hits, and by the end of 1917 jazz was becoming a nationwide phenomenon with a large, primarily white, audience”.

Finally on the display shelves in the library there are related vinyl LPs (library listening only), and loanable CDs and books on the New Orleans topic, other LaRocca-related LPs, and of course, thanks to  Genia’s hard work, a catalogue search will reveal still more of the library’s resources.

_______________________________________________________________

(1) New Orleans Official Guide online: http://www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/music/musichistory/jazzbirthplace.html.

(2) James Lincoln Collier. “Jazz (i).” The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed.. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed February 28, 2017, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/J223800.

(3) Richard M. Sudhalter. “LaRocca, Nick.” The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, accessed February 27, 2017, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/J259200.

Library item of the month, Sep 2015: ‘Somebody loves me’

The Item of the month for September 2015 is George Gershwin’s Somebody loves me (words by Ballard MacDonald and Buddy DeSylva).

Between 1920 and 1924, Gershwin wrote music for five of George White’s Broadway reviews including George White’s Scandals of 1924 which contained the hit number Somebody loves me. According to Ean Wood, in his biography George Gershwin: His life and music [shelved at 789 GER], this song is the first to show the ‘authentic’ Gershwin sound. However, the composer had already had a hit with Swanee, recorded in 1920 by Al Jolson which made the composer $10,000 in royalties, closely followed by success with Rhapsody in blue in 1924. Premièred in a concert entitled ‘An Experiment in Modern Music’, Rhapsody established Gershwin’s place in the history of music as ‘the man who brought ‘jazz’ into the concert hall’ [Grove online].

Photo of the Gershwin item of the month displayThis month’s display includes only a small selection of scores and recordings featuring Gershwin’s song, Somebody loves me.

Dick Hyman’s Professional chord changes and substitutions for 100 tunes every musician should know [shelved at: 780.28 HAY] offers chords choices to compare with those shown in the other displayed score, The Real book (European : 6th edition) [shelved at J 781.REA] – clearly, there is always more than one harmonic solution to be found!

Somebody loves me has been an inspiration for many singers and composers since its composition and we have included the score of Earl Wild’s Etude, no. 2 for piano [shelved at 781.4 WIL], as an example of a work inspired by the song.

A CD with CD shelves reflected in itBesides scores, we have chosen a handful of recordings by a variety of artists – Bud Powell, Tommy Dorsey, Zoot Sims, Lester Young, Art Tatum, Johnny Dankworth and Dinah Washington – plus Ferde Grofé’s Whiteman Orchestra arrangements and original Gershwin orchestrations (Gershwin by Grofé… [shelved at JAZZ : GER].  For staff and students at Trinity Laban, there are, of course, many other recordings of this song available online via our music streaming subscriptions. These can be found using the Quicksearch link in the ‘Library Links’ menu on Moodle.

Jerwood Library Who’s Who: Helen Mason

This continues our Who’s Who series of blog posts where Jerwood Library staff talk about themselves and their work.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Jerwood Library

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 22.16.40I’m Helen Mason and I am responsible for cataloguing and purchasing audio visual materials for the Jerwood Library. I started out as a cataloguer at the British Institute of Recorded Sound – now the British Library Sound Archive –  then moved north to Lincolnshire to manage the County Libraries Music and Drama Library service. After working in Lincoln for more years than I’m prepared to admit to, including moving (literally) the music collection into the re-built Central Library and honing my general and local studies reference library skills, my post finally vanished in yet another major organisational re-structure. Luckily for me, I was fortunate to be appointed to my present role at the Jerwood Library. Some of my spare time these days is spent playing mainly early music, or gardening, but I also managed in to squeeze in a 3-year MA in Music with the Open University.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

It depends what you mean by ‘typical’. If you mean routine, then I would say that one of the advantages of working in a relatively small library is that no day is ‘typical’. At any moment you may be called on to assist colleagues with unexpected tasks outside the core ‘routine’ work, something which happens less often in libraries with bigger teams of staff. So, in my case, I may have been quietly getting on with cataloguing the latest batch of new scores my colleague Oliver has purchased for library stock, when my phone rings and a colleague at the desk requests my assistance to help a student find a piece of music in one of our collected editions, or sort out a knotty copyright query, or discuss a query about a CD or DVD item they require, or quite simply my colleague needs help with a queue of people at the front desk. Back at my desk I may then set about sourcing and ordering the requested CD or DVD, perhaps look further into a printed music enquiry or settle back into working my way through cataloguing the pile of new music.

Then there are some meetings to attend, for example faculty departmental meetings. These offer a welcome opportunity to meet and talk with other members of staff, collect their views of the library service and update them on new library resources. Like my colleagues, therefore, a typical day is a day full of unexpected and enjoyable tasks, fitted around my core cataloguing and audio visual materials ordering.

What’s something you enjoy about your role?

cropped-dscf7089.jpg

One of the best things about being a cataloguer is making visible the invisible. Consider for a moment the shelves of books, music, CDs and DVDs in the library and if you were unable to check the catalogue or ask a member of staff, how would you locate just that volume which contains the information you need amongst those thousands of items? You could perhaps embark on a tour of the shelves to examine every item? But what if you still don’t find what you are looking for, can you be sure it wasn’t there or did you just miss it? I remember a library colleague recounting an instance when a reader suggested doing just that, saying, ‘you have a look along those shelves and I’ll check along these’.  My colleague gently explained that libraries have a quicker and more efficient way to find the item, viz. the catalogue – the work of an invisible cataloguer.

Are there any hidden or little-known aspects of your work you’d like to share?

You might say that most of my work is both ‘hidden’ and ‘little-known’, as is that of cataloguers world-wide and throughout the ages! Who ever gives a thought to how the information gets into the library catalogue?

It’s fair to say that library cataloguing comes at the advanced end of data entry, in that it is still largely done by real people typing data into structured fields in a database, and can involve a great deal of additional ‘intellectual’ input. Online shopping websites generally rely on images of their products and, as we all know, frequently fail to provide vital information – just how tall, wide and deep is that chest of drawers and will it go up the stairs? Even more annoyingly, they rarely present the same information in a standard format, so you can’t be sure that perfect dresser is really that tall, wide, deep, perhaps those figures mean tall, deep, wide – you need to know!

What do library cataloguers do?

They describe things so that you, the user, can make an informed decision about whether this, rather than that, particular item is the one you need. Simple really! Well, perhaps not so simple. Just the result of careful, systematic and attentive work undertaken by an invisible cataloguer to make the invisible item visible to you in the many ways you may choose to look for it.  Whether you half remember the author’s name or just part of the title, or that it was a piece of music for flute and harp by a French composer, or that it was a book about tuning pianos, or a particular Russian opera score with words in English, or it must be an Urtext edition, the cataloguer has to be sure to include all the bits of information you need to help you find the item on the shelf, to distinguish between similar items, or to select from a range of related items.

It boils down to the cataloguer making literally dozens of important decisions about each item, from basic questions such as: who is the author, how do you spell their name, what are their dates, to, in the case of a book, what is it about, are several authors involved, or is it a compilation of separate essays on a theme?

Scores2

Printed music poses even more and trickier questions. What exactly is the item being catalogued? Does the library already have it in stock, or is it similar to something which is in stock? Is it a complete piece? What is the ‘correct’ or ‘best-known’ title of the piece? (Think of how many instances of Bach’s Jesu joy of man’s desiring there might be which you would want the catalogue to display together to for you to choose from! Welcome to the fascinating world of the music cataloguer!).

If the item to be catalogued is a vocal piece, are the words in the original language and does it include a translation? Which and how many languages are presented? Who wrote those words and who translated them? If it is an instrumental piece, what instruments are required? Are there parts? If so, are they all there? Is this the original scoring, or is it an arrangement?  Is this the original edition or has someone edited it? Who made the arrangement or edition and will anyone need to search for their names and dates? Is it in fact published, and if so, when, where and by whom? How many pages does the item have, what are its dimensions, are there introductory notes, appendices, critical comments and what language(s) are they in? Does it include illustrations, loose pages, CDs? Is the duration of the piece indicated? Is there information about the first performance? What about the binding? Where is the best place on the library shelves for the item, (i.e. in which class/subject area does it belong)? What is the shelf number? Are there other copies to be added?

Audio visual items introduce the extra dimension of performance for consideration. Which and how many of the performers, producers, directors, conductors will be searched for by the library’s users? What languages, if any, are being used? Does the item include booklets, programme notes, librettos with translations? When and where was the recording made (crucial, if you think about it, for recordings of organ or ‘improvised’ music)?

If the cataloguer has found authoritative answers to all these questions and presented the information in a consistent, systematic way (e.g. names and titles always spelled the same way), the user will easily be able to identify, compare, and select that particular item and find it on the shelf! Job done – hopefully, once and for all!

But you can see how easy it would be to lose things in the library by making mistakes at the cataloguing stage.  A famous recent example is the 40- to 60-part Mass by Alessandro Striggio thought to be lost, but in fact languishing in the Bibliothèque Nationale and unidentified thanks to a series of cataloguing errors over a couple of hundred years. This resulted in it losing not only its title, but its composer and the correct number of parts – it was listed as: “STRUSCO (A.).—Messe à 4 parties”, until researcher Davitt Moroney finally unearthed it in the early 21st century. Just a few wrong decisions and some cumulative cataloguing slips and the music was ‘lost’ for pretty much 400 years – ouch!

Finally, could you tell us something people may not know about you?

As part of the Mock Tudor Band’s performance of arrangement of a song by Paloma Faith to the 4+ million viewers of BBC’s The One Show, I played crumhorn – really! It doesn’t get more surreal than that!

Singers of the Golden Age

One of the strengths of the large sound recordings collection we have at the Jerwood Library is the large number of CD reissues of historic recordings of singers from the early days of recording. We have been lucky to receive several significant donations of these CDs and are proud to have finally finished cataloguing and making them available on the shelves for staff and students to browse through and borrow. So it was with some excitement that we heard that the Vocal Department planned to invite Martin Lindsay, singer and voice teacher from the State Music Conservatory in Cologne to give a presentation on just these kinds of historic recordings. Here was a perfect opportunity for us to promote this aspect of our collection, to hit, as it were, a few high Cs of our own. In the course of one of his preparatory visits for this session, Martin visited the library to discuss the contents of our planned supporting display Singers of the Golden Age and while he was with us we quizzed him a little about his enthusiasm for these historic recordings.

Q.  Martin, you’ve been singing and teaching professionally for 25 years, what is your main musical area of activity?

ML I work primarily in the field of contemporary music – it’s a great passion. But my other great passion is the human voice in all of its facets.

Q. Who would you choose as your Top 5 favourites among the Golden Age singers?

ML …My favourite 5 singers… (a very difficult choice!)… if pushed, they would be:

  1. Rosa Ponselle
  2. Ebe Stignani
  3. Toti dal Monte
  4. Giuseppe Anselmi
  5. Conchita Supervia

Q.  Which Golden Age singer would you say has been your greatest influence?

ML  Rosa Ponselle – for the absolute mastery and seamlessness of technique, combined with a sure interpretative and emotional instinct.

Q.  How did you get into listening to these great singers of the past?

ML I started listening to the old recordings on the instigation of my then singing teacher, Peter Harrison, who was of the opinion that the most perfect and technically pure singing was to be heard in the singers of this period. After the first examples I was hooked, fascinated by the voices and vocal personalities, and the insights the old recordings gave me into the workings of the voices I was hearing.

Q.  How have these insights influenced your professional work?

ML Those years were crucial in the forming of ideas I was later to develop in my own teaching, and these singers played an integral part in that process. I am looking forward to introducing these recordings to the young singers at Trinity Laban!

Singers of the Golden Age

For our Singers of the Golden Age ‘lending’ display[1], Martin has selected recordings made in the first couple of decades of the last century. These demonstrate all the voice ranges and, as he suggests, offer insights into the technical aspects of singing – phrasing, breath control, choice of tempi and other expressive techniques – employed by singers of that ‘Golden Age’.

Glimpses into the past….

Listening to and comparing performances is always a fascinating activity – BBC Radio 3, after all, devotes a good chunk of its Saturday mornings to just that activity in its CD Review programme – and using recordings of other musicians in this way is now common practice for student performers. Among the rewards of listening to very early recordings are the tantalising glimpses of how performances might have sounded in the late 19th century, although, as Steane points out (1974, p. 4-12) these glimpses must be treated with caution. How many of us have longed to time-travel back to the premières of the great works of the Bachs, Mozarts and Beethovens of yesteryear to hear how the music really sounded and what the concert-going experience was really like? These historic recordings are able to provide some tiny pointers as they preserve, often imperfectly, the voices of many of the singers who sang in the premières and worked with the composers of the major operatic works of the late 19th century. An example: Puccini’s choice for the ‘coveted’ role of Cavaradossi in Tosca was not Caruso, but the older and more experienced singer Emilio De Marchi (1861-1917) and his voice is preserved in two scratchy cylinder recordings[2] of excerpts from that opera (Trinity Laban staff and students can listen to those here[3]) and reissued as Creator Records, vol. 1: Puccini and Mascagni (1891-1926) by Symposium Records (SYMP1379).

What about vibrato?

Students of ‘historically informed performance’ have started to mine early recordings for evidence in the argument over the now ubiquitous use of vibrato in both vocal and instrumental performance, suggesting that, as recordings in the first decade of the 20th century appear to demonstrate a more restricted use of vibrato, this must have been normal performance practice in earlier times (Day, 2000, 184-5). Discussions have been heated on this topic, and Katz (2004, 85-98), for example, offers a convincing argument in relation to the violin for what he terms the ‘phonograph effect’ on the rapid development of violin vibrato during the early years of recording. He suggests that violinists used vibrato to counteract on the one hand the technical insensitivity of the recording machines to their instruments and on the other the loss of the visual element in performances. Vibrato also provided a means for players to differentiate their own violin sound from that of other players. All very interesting ideas, which may be tested by careful listening and comparison of recordings.

Divas on record

Alongside the Singers of the Golden Age display, we have also pulled out some dozen of our CD recordings featuring a single aria – Bellini’s Casta diva (from Norma) to form a ‘Divas on record’ display (pun intended!). The selected CD tracks range in date from Celestina Boninsegna’s 1904 recording through to Reneé Fleming’s of 1999, and include four Callas recordings (1937, 1949, 1957, 1961). Listeners can therefore not only compare different performances of the aria, but, in the case of the Callas recordings, study a single performer’s development in a role. So why not come up to the Jerwood library and have a look at (and listen to) the displays? To paraphrase the advertising cliché, hearing a recording is worth a thousand words!

(Very) Select bibliography

Day, T. 2000. A century of recorded music: listening to musical history. New Haven: Yale University Press

Katz, M. 2004. Capturing sound: how technology has changed music. Berkeley & London: University of California Press

Steane, J. B. 1974. The grand tradition : seventy years of singing on record. London : Duckworth

[1] ‘lending display’ – that’s a display of library materials you can borrow, not just look at!

[2] Opera Arias – PUCCINI, G. / MASCAGNI, P. (Creator Records, Vol. 1) (1891-1926)

[3] available to TL staff and students via: http://www.naxosmusiclibrary.com/catalogue/item.asp?cid=SYMP1379

eStream at Trinity Laban – the Jerwood Library perspective

Just in case you have yet to find your way to the eStream links on Moodle, we thought you might like to know a bit more about what eStream is and to have a bit of an introduction to some of its more obscure corners.

1st imageMany of you will already have uploaded video content for assignments, class teaching and so on. However, you may still be unaware that eStream is also where we keep the recordings we take off-air under the terms of our educational recording licence. This allows us to build up a permanent collection of useful programmes broadcast by the BBC and Channel 4. Programmes are scheduled for recording onto eStream by staff at the Laban and Jerwood libraries. In the case of the Jerwood Library selections, which is what this post is mainly about, the programmes selection is largely made by library staff with welcome suggestions received from Faculty staff, and, hopefully in the future, an increasing number of students.

What programmes do we choose? The criteria are broad, including documentaries about aspects of music and music makers, performances – especially première performances – programmes featuring Trinity Laban staff and students, and performances of unusual repertoire. There is a mixture of radio (audio only) and TV (video) recordings and the archive is growing continually.

If you know of an upcoming BBC or Channel 4 programme you think we should record, for instance, it features you and/or other Trinity Laban folks, or you would find it especially relevant to your studies, let us know. Similarly, if you have just seen or heard an interesting programme – and this often happens with the ‘magazine’ type programme (e.g. Radio 3’s In-tune) where the content is not listed in detail in the scheduler but you heard a useful snippet you think others would be interested in – let us know. Bear in mind that we have a window of about a week (like iPlayer) in which we can capture past content.

How do you search for eStream off-air r2nd imageecordings?

Lurking at the bottom of the library links tab on Moodle, there are the on-site and off-site links to eStream. Make sure you choose the appropriate one for where you are!

You can type keywords into the search box on the eStream homepage and then filter your search by various things, including, under the ‘category’ tab, by TV / Radio 3rd imagebroadcasts. Your keywords match words in headings and descriptions.

Another way of finding the recordings scheduled by Jerwood staff is via the Jerwood Library catalogue. We catalogue the programmes, adding our usual subject terms and providing links through to eStream. These work in much the same way as the links to our ebooks and online journals. This means that when you are using the Jerwood catalogue for your music searches, relevant links to eStream broadcasts will also appear among your results. Easy!

So now for the fun bit – this is the moment for non-Trinity Laban staff and students to look away. Come back when we post our next blog entry!

Here are ten eStream off-air recordings to give you a concrete idea of what the collection contains. Clicking on the links below will generally take you to the eStream login page where Trinity Laban staff and students can enter their usual login details to listen to or watch the programme. (Please note, under the terms of the ERA licence these programmes are only available to Trinity Laban folks currently in the UK – apologies to anyone else reading this blog!)

  • First up Guitar heroes at the BBC, a compilation of performances featuring guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Peter Townshend […] broadcast on BBC FOUR on 16/11/14.
  • Next: Silk stockings, a Cole Porter-scored remake of Ninotchka in which a beautiful Soviet girl, sent on a mission to the West, falls under the spell of decadent Paris. Broadcast on BBC TWO on 25 October, 2014.
  • Then there is an inspirational documentary: New Congo calling: an African orchestra in Britain charting about the extraordinary story of the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste broadcast on BBC FOUR on 16 November 2014.
  • Another interesting documentary deals with the role of the long-playing recording in shaping popular music: When albums ruled the world was broadcast on BBC FOUR on 3 December 2014.
  • On 16 January 2015 BBC FOUR broadcast a documentary about Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ (the Jerwood library full catalogue entry details the content).
  • The episode of Jazz Line-up broadcast on 7 February 2015 entitled Shakespeare Songs, featured saxophonist Andy Sheppard and pianist Guillaume de Chassey performing music inspired by Shakespeare at the 2014 London Jazz Festival.
  • Eighteenth century English soprano, Nancy Storace was the subject of Catherine Bott’s investigation into Mozart’s English soprano, broadcast on Radio 4 on 18 October 2014.
  • Do you remember that there was a Jonathan Dove world première at the 2014 BBC Proms but can’t remember the details? Searching the Jerwood catalogue using 4th imageskeywords like <premiere>, <Dove> brings back a list of results including this one for Gaia theory. Find the recording on eStream by clicking on the electronic access link in the Full description tab.
  • The regular Radio 3 Live in Concert programme yields gems like the concert by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group at the Wigmore Hall broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 24 February 2015 which included songs commissioned by John Woolrich and a world première of Gerald Barry’s Crossing the bar.
  • As a last example, and sadly the recording quality is poor, there is the episode of Radio 3’s In-tune of February 26 2015 which included a world première of Surface/Submerge by current Trinity Laban student composer, Will Handysides. This was commissioned for performance by the Conservatoire’s GMT Ensemble.

We would like feedback on the off-air recordings already in the eStream collection. Please note, we already know there is a problem with some of the Radio 3 recordings having interruptions and squeaks. The signal is problematic and we are working to improve that.

We hope you find the recordings useful, and as mentioned earlier, we welcome suggestions from Music Faculty staff and students for programmes to include. Remember we have a week’s window to schedule future or past programmes. Drop an email to Helen Mason (h.mason@trinitylaban.ac.uk) or speak to staff at the library issue desk.

The Alan Cave collection of chamber music for wind instruments – latest news

Alan Cave store - picture 1 resizedWe are excited to announce that the catalogue records for the amazing collection of wind chamber music (known here at Trinity Laban Faculty of Music as the Alan Cave Collection) have now been incorporated into our main online catalogue. This means information about this collection is now easily searchable online via the Jerwood Library catalogue.

This extensive collection of chamber sets was collected by the late Alan Cave, who was for many years’ bassoonist and contrabassoonist in the London Symphony Orchestra. Over his lifetime he amassed an enormous library of performance materials – including this collection of some 2000 pieces of chamber music held here at the Jerwood Library, and some wind band sets, which are part of the loan collection held by the CYM library.

One of the oldest sets in the collection here is Onslow’s Wind Octet, op. 81, published by Kistner in 1852, the year before the composer’s death. [AC 6247]; one of the more recent is Malcolm Arnold’s Trevelyan Suite, op. 96, published by Faber in 1970. [AC 5047 [1]].

Alan Cave store - picture 2 resizedThe collection is wide-ranging and contains music by many unusual and lesser-known composers ripe for re-discovery.

The range of repertoire and ensembles covered is impressive. There are for example

  • a Scherzino by Fisher Aubrey Tull (1934-1994) for an octet of piccolo, three flutes, three B-flat clarinets and bass clarinet, published by Boosey & Hawkes, 1973 [757 TUL],
  • an Octet [2]. by the Dutch serial composer, Peter Schat (1935-2003), published by Donemus in 1958 for flute, doubling piccolo, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, two trumpets and trombone [AC 6497],
  • Racconto by Jorgen Bentzon (1897-1951) for flute, alto saxophone, bassoon and double bass, published by Skandinavisk, 1935 [AC 5145],

as well as a vast array of wind quintets for unusual wind instrument combinations, Silvestre Revueltas’ (1899-1940) Little serious pieces, 1 & 2 [AC 6407, AC 6408] arranged for piccolo, oboe, clarinet, trumpet and baritone saxophone, being just one example.

The collection includes music for ensembles ranging in size from duets to large wind bands of up to 19 instruments. Naturally enough, given Alan Cave’s bassoon-playing background, the collection contains much music involving the bassoon. There are, for example, 20 bassoon duets and another 30 for bassoon with another wind instrument, 12 trios for bassoons and around 100 other trios for bassoon in combination with other wind instruments.

Alan Cave catalogueAnyone wishing to search the catalogue for a particular ensemble combination should type the required instrument names into the SUBJECT search box together with the size of ensemble term (e.g. Trios, Quintets) and select TYPE ‘sheet music/score’.

Alan Cave store - picture 3 resizedThe sets currently reside in our closed shelving stacks, but work has already begun on making them ready to be transferred to our open shelves. (This picture gives an idea of the scale of the project!)

Alan Cave folders - picture 4 resizedWe have, however, purchased some splendid folders which will help borrowers keep the sets and parts together and safe when taken out of the library, until the sets have been properly bound.

 

All we need now are some inquisitive musicians keen to explore the hidden depths of this remarkable library of chamber music.

[1] In this blog post, codes in [ ] refer to Jerwood Library’s shelf numbers.

[2] The musical construction of this Octet receives particular mention in Rokus de Groot’s article in Grove Music Online,

‘But his lessons with Boulez led him to a more radical, strict form of serial thought, and even before that he was regarded in the Netherlands as one of the leading members of the avant-garde of his generation. In the fourth part of the Octet (1958), dedicated to van Baaren, it is the players who determine the order of its 12 segments, while in the final part there is occasion for individual improvisation’

From notes to performance

From notes to performanceThe catalyst for the latest exhibition in the Jerwood Library was a conversation I had with Joe Townsend earlier in the summer about the role of libraries and archives in the creative process of performance. A moment’s consideration is perhaps enough to list the ways in which they support preparation for music performance. Apart from the expected collections of printed scores in many editions, there is a wide range of books – biographies, histories, dictionaries and other academic books, some of which contain, among other things, fascinating written accounts of past performances, published collections of correspondence and diaries giving insight into a composer’s composition and performance intentions. Then there are journals delving into more detailed aspects of composition and performance through articles, critiques of performances and written interviews with performers about their approaches to particular pieces of music. Finally, but importantly, there are recordings often offering the chance to compare performances of the same work made at different points in music history.

So this new exhibition from notes to performance attempts to show some ways in which library materials can be used to support and inform a musical interpretation.

Two works have been selected – Mozart’s Piano sonata in Bb, K 333 and the aria I know that my redeemer liveth from Handel’s Messiah. These were chosen because the library also has access to facsimile editions of the scores which provide a basis for a critical examination of the printed editions on offer.

An examination of each of these facsimiles immediately provokes questions which an intending performer needs to consider, viz. what information does the composer’s manuscript yield about how the music should be performed and how trustworthy are the printed editions. The opening bar of the Mozart Sonata, for example, is notated with an appoggiatura – not all editions preserve this (why not?). Does this notation have a performance implication (weight, rhythm, tempo, dynamic)? The various Mozart editions show different interpretations of other articulation, adding or subtracting slurs or staccato signs. Some insert dynamics, and many add suggested fingerings. The Messiah facsimile shows ornaments in the instrumental parts but not in the vocal line, why so? Choices must made about these aspects and these choices will affect the final performance.

A performer must also look beyond the notes and consider the wider historical context of the piece. When was it composed and what implications does that have? What instrument would Mozart have in mind for his Sonata, for example, and should that influence a 21st century performer’s performance? Articulation and fingering, dynamics and ornaments are likely to be influenced by the type of piano to be used. Can the phrasing suitable for a fortepiano be translated to a concert grand? What would Mozart have wanted?

When were the printed editions made and does that affect how editors may have decoded the composer’s “intentions” as expressed in the manuscript (facsimile)? Might this explain how different the three ‘Urtext’ editions of the Mozart Sonata are? Barth’s (1991) article in Early Music offers a fascinating study of how editors reflected changing attitudes to music of the past drawing his evidence from the first editions through the 19th century and into the 20th century. Happily, Mozart left indications of his ideas in his letters describing his contemporaries’ performances to help us decode the printed legacy.  The situation with earlier music is perhaps less straight-forward.

The materials selected for this exhibition to provide performance background to Handel’s aria I know that my redeemer liveth include a facsimile score and various written accounts from or about performers and performances.

The manuscript is fairly hard to read, but is notably lacking in ornamentation. This aspect has been a contentious issue, as demonstrated in the Cummings (1903/4) article, where the author inveighs against the introduction of ornaments in printed editions. Some 80 years later, Roche (1985) wrote a slightly plaintive article deprecating the deliberate stripping away during the 20th century of these very ornaments which had been part of an ‘living tradition’ of Messiah performance, ornaments which are now consider standard in any ‘historically informed’ performance of this work. Isobel Baillie’s (1982) memoire supports the ‘back to the composer’s intentions’ approach where any added embellishment of the vocal line was eschewed. However, she was happy to make modest revisions to the word-setting to improve her performance. The printed editions on display (Jenkins; Tobin; Walter) demonstrate editors making choices about appoggiaturas, articulation and other ornaments which must, again, be challenged by careful study of the wider historical performance context. Recordings can help offer insights to compare with written accounts of performances of the work. Musical Times (1850) critics of a performance in Liverpool in 1850 by leading soprano, Jenny Lind dramatically disagreed with her interpretation. One wrote: ‘We never before heard the airs in the Messiah sung with so much power, simplicity and earnestness…. “I know that my Redeemer liveth” was perfect’, while the other commented ‘“I know that my Redeemer” lost all that effect we have been accustomed to hear produced, through the fact of this air testing those tones that in Mdlle. Lind are most unquestionably defective. The reading of the song was a mistake throughout.’

As always, an exhibition can only include a limited number of examples and much material that is fascinating must be omitted. I have included a select bibliography below of the sources used and, of course, staff and students at Trinity Laban have access all these materials either by borrowing them from the Jerwood Library, or by using online research resources (Quicksearch, for example) to find further written and recorded examples.

Perhaps there is a CoLab project here for a student or group of students who would care to pursue the idea further and create a video charting their journey from printed score to a performance?  I can see the title already “From page to stage”…

Select bibliography [showing Jerwood Library shelf locations]

Books

Badura-Skoda, Eva and Paul (2008). Interpreting Mozart: the performance of his piano pieces and other compositions. London: Routledge, pp.138-160. [Shelved at 789 HAN]

Baillie, Isobel (1982). Never sing louder than lovely. London: Hutchinson.  [Shelved at: 784.19 BAI]

Barth, George (1991). ‘Mozart Performance in the 19th Century’, in Early Music, Vol. 19/4, pp. 538-555. Accessed at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3127916

The pianist as orator: Beethoven and the transformation of keyboard style (1992). Cornell University Press. [Shelved at 785.68 BAR]

Brown, Clive, 1947- Title: Classical and Romantic performing practice 1750-1900 [electronic resource]. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. [Shelved at 783.96 BRO]

Cummings, William H. (1903/4). ‘The mutilation of a masterpiece’, in Proceedings of the Musical Association, 30th season, pp. 113-127. Accessed at http://www.jstor.org/stable/765308

Eighteenth-century keyboard music (1994). New York: Schirmer. [Shelved at 785.68 MAR]

Ferguson, Howard, 1908-1999 Title: Keyboard interpretation from the 14th to the 19th century: an introduction Publication info: London: Oxford University Press, 1975 [Shelved at 785.65 FER]

Gill, Dominic (1981). The book of the piano. Oxford: Phaidon Press. [Shelved at 785.61 GIL]

Good, Edwin M. (2001). Giraffes, Black Dragons and other pianos: a technological history from Cristofori to the modern concert grand, 2nd ed. Stanford: Stanford University Press. [Shelved at 785.61 GOO]

Irving, John Title: Mozart’s piano sonatas: contexts, sources, style. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1997. [Shelved at 789 MOZ]

Landon, H. C. Robbins (1984). Handel and his world. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. [Shelved at 789 HAN]

Lampl, Hans (1996). Turning notes into music: an introduction to muscal interpretation. Maryland: Scarecrow Press. [Shelved at 783.96 LAM]

Lang, Paul Henry (1996). George Frideric Handel. New York: Dover. [Shelved at 789 HAN]

Langley, Robert, et al. (ed.) (1984). Handel in London. London: Royal Society of Musicians (Published by the Royal Society of Musicians to mark the 200th anniversary of the first Handel Commemoration). [Shelved at 789 HAN]

Letnanova, Elena (1991). Piano interpretation in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: a study of theory and practice using original documents. Jefferson: McFarland. [Shelved at 783.96 LET]

[Musical Times (1850)]. ‘Jenny Lind at Liverpool’, in The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular, Vol. 4/76 , p. 57.  Accessed at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3370416

Neumann, Frederick (1986). Ornamentation and improvisation in Mozart. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. [Shelved at 783.96 NEU]

Roche, Elizabeth (1985). ‘Handel’s Appoggiaturas: A Tradition Destroyed’, in Early Music, Vol. 13/3, pp. 408-410.  Accessed at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3127568

Rosenblum, Sandra P (1988). Performance practices in classic piano music: their principles and application. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. [Shelved at 785.65 ROS]

Scores:

Handel, Messiah (I know that my redeemer liveth)

Facsimile of the autograph score of Messiah, an oratorio composed in the year 1741 by G. F. Handel. London: Sacred Harmonic society, 1868. [Shelved at REFERENCE FACSIMILES COLLECTION: HAN]

Tobin, John, ed. (1965). The Messiah = Der Messias [in critical complete edition series]. Kassel: Bärenreiter. [Shelved at COLLECTED EDITIONS: HAN]

Jenkins, Neil, arranger and editor (1997). Sing solo sacred: 40 favourite songs and arias for low voice and organ or piano. Oxford University Press. [Shelved at 780.309 SAC]

Walter, Richard, compiler (1994). The oratorio anthology. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard. [Shelved at 780.309 ORA]

Mozart, Piano Sonata, K. 333, B-flat major – editions… [all shelved at 781.4 MOZ]

Associated Board of the R.A.M and the R.C.M (1931). edited (based on Bischoff’s edition, which was compiled from composer autographs and earliest editions) by York Bowen, with analytical notes by Aubyn Raymar.

Peters Urtext edition (1951), Nr. 1800b, edited [after the sources] by CA Martienssen and Wilhelm Weismann.

Henle Urtext edition (1977/1992), edited by Ernst Herttrich

Baerenreiter Urtext edition (1986), edited (from the Neue Ausgabe) by Wolfgang Plath and Wolfgang Rehm,1986.