Claire’s Choice: on an autumnal theme!

conkers

As the mornings grow colder and squirrels are to be seen hoarding conkers for the winter, what better for “Claire’s Choice” than to highlight two songs in the Jerwood Library collection celebrating the venerable chestnut tree.

village-blacksmith

 

Written in 1840 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poem The Village Blacksmith was set to music in 1854 by the English composer and celebrated bass singer Willoughby Weiss. It starts “Under a spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stands…” and continues to describe the blacksmith’s daily life. Weiss offered the copyright of the work to a firm of publishers for the sum of 5 pounds, but when his offer was turned down, he decided to publish it on his own account. As luck would have it, it went on to become a hugely popular Victorian parlour song, earning him and his family a considerable income!

 

Moving forward into the 20th century, the second song The Chestnut Tree, with words and music by Jimmy Kennedy, Tommie Connor and Hamilton Kennedy, was composed in 1938. This popular novelty song was also inspired by Longfellow’s The Village Blacksmith. However rather than focussing on the virtuous, hard-working, church-going, qualities of the blacksmith, it centres on the blacksmith’s daughter and “the spreading chestnut tree”, the goings-on under which certainly didn’t appear in Longfellow’s poem!

But this was only one aspect of the song. In fact, the writers had been specifically commissioned to come up with something that was going to take dance halls by storm. Indeed the inspiration behind selecting The Village Blacksmith as inspiration came from a photograph of King George VI at a boy scout jamboree in which his, and all the scouts’, hands were held to their heads. Further research unearthed that this was part of a performance in which the scouts recited The Village Blacksmith. With assistance from Adele England (who had choreographed The Lambeth Walk) they devised some steps to go with their song, which are illustrated in the printed edition. It became a huge hit, selling over 10,000 copies per day.

This edition comes from the Jerwood Library’s Rita Williams popular song collection. Rita Williams sang with the Billy Cotton Club, among other groups, and was an avid collector of popular songs. The overall collection comprises some 3000 individual songs dating from Victorian times to the 1970s. It is handlisted here. Do get in touch with us if you’d like to see any other hidden gems in the collection.

Items from the Jerwood library collection:

Weiss, W.H. “The Village Blacksmith”. In The Songs of England, volume 1, edited by J.L. Hatton, 245-249. London: Boosey & Co, 1910

Kennedy, Jimmy, Tommie Connor and Hamilton Kenny, The Chestnut Tree. London: Peter Maurice Music Co, 1938

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Exhibition: Experimental Scores from 1950s New York

cabinet-2One of the things that strikes me about the music of John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff and Earle Brown in the 1950s is how uneasily it might sit in the library of a conservatoire of music. It represents attitudes to sound, composition and value-judgements like skill, quality, or success and failure which seem to me to be at odds with those of the mainstream of western classical music history. And this seemed to me a good reason to drag it out and examine it under the lights of the library display cabinets.

But first things first – why does this music tend to be grouped together and described as ‘experimental’? Attempts at naming and defining a musical movement seem to me to be doomed to exceptions and over-simplifications, intended as they are to take in the work done by a range of different personalities over a vaguely-defined period of time. Yet, they have their uses. Something new really did seem to happen in the way people were creating and thinking about music in New York City, beginning in the 1950s, and calling this new music ‘experimental’ seems reasonable. At least, John Cage seemed to think so:

“The word ‘experimental’ is apt, providing it is understood not as descriptive of an act to be later judged in terms of success and failure, but simply as of an act the outcome of which is unknown.”  [written in 1955][1]

Cage is the composer most associated with the inception of this new music, but the work of all four men has a further attitude in common; they were all writing music which was at one remove from the person who made it, and thus somewhat distanced from their own tastes and prejudices in favour of a more objective approach to sound. Michael Nyman, in his book on experimental music, also adds that it is music which is somehow distinct from the ‘well-trodden but sanctified path of the post-Renaissance tradition’ of avant-garde composers such as Boulez, Xenakis, Kagel, Berio, Stockhausen, Birtwistle, Bussotti.[2] I’ll come back to that.

John Cage’s famous ‘silent’ piece 4’33’’ was composed and premiered in 1952 and is often the place to start off any discussion about experimental music. Consequently, I almost cringe talking about this piece. It seems to have been picked over again and again, endlessly. However, one of the reasons this is the case is that it’s just such a good example in the way in encapsulates many aspects of the new attitude towards music that began to emerge in the work of a number of composers around the same time in the same place.

cage

John Cage at a drinks reception at the Cage/Cunningham Residency at the Laban Centre, July 1980.  Photo by Peter Sayers (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Cage’s piece grew directly out of his realisation that sounds surround us always, even in the quietest of places, and if we attend to them, and accept both intended and unintended sounds into composition, a new attitude to making and listening to music is born – ‘Happy new ears!’, as he put it.[3] His move was to simply provide a time-frame (the duration of which was generated by chance) in which an audience could attend to all the sounds that surround them. And although 4’33’’ is the idea taken to its logical extreme, the emphasis in this new attitude was not the traditional one of prescribing a defined time-object, the materials and structuring of which were calculated and specified in advance. Instead, these composers were more interested in outlining a certain situation in which sounds then occur. It was an attitude of acceptance rather than craftsmanship; an effort to distance one’s self from the composition; and an attempt to bring art and life closer together:[4]

“When a composer feels a responsibility to make, rather than accept, he eliminates from the area of possibility all those events that do not suggest at that point in time vogue of profundity. For he takes himself seriously, wishes to be considered great, and he thereby diminishes his love and increases his fear and concern about what people will think.

 

There are many serious problems confronting such an individual. He must do it better, more impressively, more beautifully, etc. than anybody else. And what, precisely, does this, this beautiful profound object, this masterpiece, have to do with Life? It has this to do with Life: that it is separate from it. Now we see it and now we don’t. When we see it we feel better, and when we are away from it, we don’t feel so good. Life seems shabby and chaotic and disordered, ugly in contrast.”[5]

Describing pieces like the graph pieces of Morton Feldman, in which only the number and relative placement of pitches (high, middle, low) are specified within a time-grid, Cage said that ‘the composer resembles the maker of a camera who allows someone else to take the picture.’[6]

“What is, or seems to be, new in this music? One finds a concern for a kind of objectivity, almost anonymity – sound come into its own. The ‘music’ is resultant existing simply in the sounds we hear, given no impulse by expression of self or personality” [7]

It should already seem quite clear how this attitude is very different from that of the European-classical canon, including the work of the avant-garde at the time. In that tradition the responsibility for managing and calculating all of the musical parameters is laid squarely at the feet of the composer. The emphasis there is on integration, organisation and control as opposed to the impersonal techniques used for merely ‘setting sounds in motion’, in which any possibility of drawing events into some kind of pre-calculated image is impossible because so much is left open until the moment of performance. And indeed, it was the uniqueness of the moment, rather than the uniqueness of something preserved, that interested the experimental composers.

So this brings me to the place experimental music might occupy in a conservatoire of music. After all, it’s here that performance students come to hone an extraordinarily refined skill-set over a period of at least 4 years, with the emphasis being on replicating certain unique and preserved master-pieces. It’s hard-work, and success and failure are very real categories. So it seems understandable that the presence of this different attitude to music-making might sit a little uneasily here – who needs a degree when all you’re doing is ‘projecting sounds in time’? How do you accurately rate the performance of a piece that sounds completely different every time it’s performed?

However, my feeling, for what it’s worth, is that music is not just one thing, and students should be able, if so inclined, to take advantage of their time here to explore it in all its variety. Surely, this is one of the main things the library is here to facilitate. Whether this music seems exciting to one person or empty to another depends ultimately on their temperament, but either way, having it in the collection increases its scope. After all, let’s not forget that this music is hardly ‘new’. In fact, it’s now just about old enough to qualify for a free bus pass.

It’s refreshing that people tend to find the arch-modernist style-police amusing for the vitriol with which they denounced anyone who didn’t plow their particular furrow in the mid-twentieth-century, and this opening-up and moving away from an unhealthy obsession with style can only be a good thing. I know that when I learnt about what was happening in 1950s New York for the first time it opened my ears to new ways of thinking about and listening to music. It didn’t stop me practicing my scales, but it did give me a different take on listening to all the sounds that we normally do our best to ignore; or wondering whether we can, or why we might want to, remove our tastes and prejudices from the things we make. Being exposed to a diversity of values and approaches to music only enriches things.

However, as a final thought, I’ll leave Morton Feldman to muddy the waters. For all this talk of a diversity of approaches, perhaps this supposedly brand-new attitude wasn’t really all that separate from the mainstream avant-garde after all? It seems a good example of how parts of a culture that seem unconnected at the time, when seen in perspective can shed light on each other in interesting ways. All the more reason to welcome this kind of music into the conservatoire library, I’d say.

“What rhapsodizes in today’s ‘cool’ language is its own construction. The fact that men like Boulez and Cage represent opposite extremes of modern mythology is not what is interesting. What is interesting is their similarity. In the music of both men, things are exactly what they are  – no more, no less. In the music of both men, what is heard is indistinguishable from its process. In fact, process itself might be called the zeitgeist of our age.”[8]

 


 

[1] John Cage, Silence (London: Marion Boyars, 1978), 13

[2] Michael Nyman, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 1

[3] John Cage, A Year From Monday: Lectures and Writings (Marion Boyars: London, 1968), 30

[4] Michael Nyman, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 4

[5] John Cage, Silence (London: Marion Boyars, 1978), 130

[6] John Cage, Silence (London: Marion Boyars, 1978), 11

[7] Christian Wolff, quoted in Michael Nyman, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 30

[8] Morton Feldman, Give my Regards to Eighth Street: Collected Writings of Morton Feldman ed. B.H.Friedman (Cambridge, MA: Exact Change, 2000), 109

James’ Choice: Antonio de Almeida’s score of Iannis Xenakis’ Metastasis

a photograph of Antonio de Almeida's copy of Xenakis' Metastasis

Antonio de Almeida’s markings on Xenakis’ Metastasis

This month the library item I’ve decided to highlight is the score for Iannis Xenakis’ (1922-2001) Metastasis from the printed music collection of the conductor Antonio de Almeida (1928-1997), complete with his performance markings. There are a number of reasons for my choice. As well as being a landmark piece of twentieth-century modernism, it’s a visually-striking score on account of its size and intricacy. Moreover, Antonio de Almeida’s pencil markings are a fascinating insight into the practical considerations required for performing a piece like this. It’s also an excellent example of Xenakis’ unique approach to composition, and one with a very explicit connection to his work as an architect.

score

Written in 1953-4, and premiered at the Donaueschingen Festival in 1955, Metastasis is Xenakis’ first major work after the completion of his studies with Olivier Messiaen. In this piece, Xenakis lays down the foundation for many of the approaches and attitudes to music composition that were to occupy him for the rest of his career. The work combines an idiosyncratic system for controlling pitch material and an approach to sound best described when he says ‘the sonorities of the orchestra are building materials, like brick, stone and wood […] The subtle structures of orchestral sound masses represent a reality that promises much’.[1] In this piece, each orchestral player has a separate part, and Xenakis combines, on the one hand, the continuous evolution of enormous glissando structures and, on the other, the discontinuous permutation of pitches.

 ‘I was interested in two things in those years. One: I wanted to write a kind of dodecaphonic music with the help of computation – a music whose macroform emerges from a few basic principles. In Metastasis I made computations based on the permutations of intervals, with the help of the axiomatic approach known in mathematics.

Two: I was interested in the continuous changes of chords. […] How to make that change a continuous one? So long as one remains in the same scale, the only solution is a glissando. […] That was the basic idea.’[2]

 

Metastasis is also the first work in which Xenakis’ compositional planning for the piece involved using a two-dimensional projection. Here, time is on the x-axis and pitch on the y-axis, and ruled straight-line paths are bent into curved surfaces.

Composition sketch for Xenakis metastasis showing the basis for the hyperbolic paraboloids of the Philips Pavillion

Image scanned from Bálint András Varga, Conversations with Iannis Xenakis, (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), 74

Xenakis also employed this technique in later compositions (such as Stratégie and Syrmos), but it’s particularly fascinating how it was also translated directly into his work as an architect. The connection is immediately obvious with how these curves built from multiple straight-line paths (hyperbolic paraboloids) were incorporated into the distinctive shape of his design for the Philips Pavilion for the 1958 Brussels Exposition Universelle, built during his time working in the office of Le Corbusier. Incidentally, the pavillion had another connection to musical modernism in that it formed the setting for performances of Edgard Varèse’s Poème électronique.[3]

expo again

Image by Wouter Hagens, accessed from http://www.archdaily.com/157658/ad-classics-expo-58-philips-pavilion-le-corbusier-and-iannis-xenakis, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

The score on display was plucked from the personal printed music library of Antonio de Almeida, housed in the Jerwood Library’s special collections. Consisting of 5,456 volumes, including scores acquired by him from the collections of Charles Munch and Pierre Monteux, it’s a wide-ranging collection, reflecting his own diverse musical interests. Alongside the Xenakis score, the collection ranges from other leading lights of twentieth-century modernism, via more mainstream orchestral repertoire of the 19th and 18th century, to composers such as Carlos Chavez, André Grétry, Howard Hanson, Hans Pfitzner and Henri Serpette. Not to mention works by Offenbach and Boccherini, in whom de Almeida had a particular interest. Described by Grove as ‘a conductor of elegance and fastidious detail’, he was also awarded the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the Légion d’Honneur.[4]

 


 

[1] Iannis Xenakis quoted in Peter Hoffmann, ‘Xenakis, Iannis’ in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/30654&gt; (Accessed August 25th, 2016)

[2] Iannis Xenakis quoted in Bálint András Varga, Conversations with Iannis Xenakis, (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), 72.

[3] Peter Hoffmann, ‘Xenakis, Iannis’ in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/30654&gt; (Accessed August 25th, 2016)

[4] Noël Goodwin, ‘Almeida, Antonio (Jacques) de’ in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/00643&gt; (Accessed August 23rd, 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New music for singers

The third phase of the library’s printed music strategy got underway this year. Having built up our collection of jazz, full scores, and opera, it was time to focus our attention on solo songs and collections. Look out for new works by contemporary composers such as Michael Finnissy, Giacinto Scelsi, Robin Holloway, Thomas Ades, Piers Hellawell, Tansy Davies, Roxanna Panufnik, Joanna Lee, Lynne Plowman, and Sally Beamish, as well as new additions from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and modern repertoires.

This year we are looking to develop our collection of music for violinists (solo music and accompanied), so if you have any recommendations please let us know. Requests for specific pieces – in any category – can be made by completing a purchase request form, available at the enquiry desk or on Moodle.

The library’s most recent printed music acquisitions are listed here, please keep checking for updates!

Cover images are reproduced with the kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes and Hal Leonard.

New sheet music in the library – more jazz, more full scores and more opera!

South LibraryYou may recall that last year we endeavoured to strengthen our holdings of contemporary music; over 100 contemporary works were added to the collection.This year we’ve turned our attention to jazz, opera and full scores.

Our jazz section has been enhanced with new music by composers such as Oliver Nelson, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Bob Brookmeyer, Kenny Wheeler and Herbie Hancock, as well as a host of anthologies, instruction manuals and transcription books.

Over 100 full scores, study scores & miniature scores have been added to the collection. Look out for new music by composers such as Toru Takemitsu, Nicholas Maw, Rodion Shchedrin, Harrison Birtwistle, Harry Partch, Steve Reich, Iannis Xenakis, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann, as well as newly published editions of standard repertoire.

We hope our singing students will benefit from the many new vocal scores in the library. These range from 19th and early 20th century operas – composers such as Massenet (“Sapho”), Rouselle, (“La Testement de la tante Caroline”), Ibert (“Angelique”) and Verdi (“Oberto”) – through to contemporary works by Peter Eotvos (“Love & Other Demons”), John Adams (“Doctor Atomic”) and Dominick Argento (“Christopher Sly” & “Postcard from Morocco”).

We will be furthering the development of our vocal section in the coming year. This time the focus will shift to smaller scale works, in particular the library’s collection of solo songs & collections.

Keep checking the Library Info section of the catalogue for our most recently added titles

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback.

Illustrated Sheet Music: the What, Why and Where of It

This post is aimed not just at musicians but anyone out there who may have an interest in researching or just appreciating the wonderfully rich resource that is illustrated sheet music.

The jovial drinker [1680-1740] © Trustees of the British Museum

What is sheet music (with apologies to musicians)?

At the risk of stating the obvious, ‘sheet music’ is the generic term used to cover handwritten or printed musical notation. The terms ‘score’ and ‘part’ are more specific terms usually referring to music that is written for multiple players/singers. From at least the seventeenth century, popular songs and other short items of sheet music were issued with illustrations, either as part of a single sheet (along with the music and text) or on a separate cover.

Why would you want to find it?

Irrespective of the musical content, the illustrations on sheet music are a fabulous source in their own right. Here are some reasons you should take a closer look:

I can't stand

I can’t stand Mrs Green’s mother [1859-1886] © Trustees of the British Museum

  • Design/typography/printing history. Every type of method is represented from wood engravings to colour lithography. Some illustrators specialised in sheet music covers such as John Brandard and Alfred Concanen.
  • Performance history. From ball rooms through music hall to jazz clubs, sheet music has documented the scenes, people, and themes of light music entertainment.
  • Social/cultural history. Contemporary fashions, new inventions, and social stereotypes all feature on sheet music covers. All of life is represented and pretty much any topic you could think of has been covered by music’s illustrators.
  • Portraiture. Many covers include illustrations or photographs of contemporary performers. Sometimes these images can be a rare source for long-forgotten celebrities.

Garn away

G’arn Away What D’yer Take Me For? [1904 – 1910] © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

 Where to find illustrated sheet music covers

Popular sheet music has often been viewed as ephemeral material so it’s not as easy to find as you might think. Music libraries catering to classical music students have tended not to actively collect, catalogue, or digitise popular song collections. And copyright law means that there are restrictions on what can be made available online.

That said, there are some really great collections out there, many curated by museums. Here are some places you can look. In most cases, images are free to use for personal, non-commercial research but do check the permissions on each site first.

  • aeroplane

    Aeroplane waltzes [1910] Science Museum via Culture Grid

    The V&A have a vast collection of sheet music, much of which is digitised. To browse, click on ‘more search options’, type “sheet music” into the object name/title box, and select ‘only records with images’.
  • The Cuture Grid brings together collections from museums, galleries, libraries and archives across the UK – the site includes some unexpected sources of sheet music such as the Science Museum.
  • The Spellman Collection of Victorian Music Covers is a huge collection housed at Reading University. It is included on the Culture Grid but also on VADS where it’s a bit easier to browse.
  • The British Museum’s Collections Database is another great UK source, particularly for nineteenth-century covers.
Jazz babies ball

Jazz babies’ ball (1919) Duke University via Sheet Music Consortium

  • Further afield, the Sheet Music Consortium contains collections from US libraries. You can browse by title, subject, name and date published.
  • Europeana brings together millions of items from Europe’s leading galleries, libraries, archives and museums, including sheet music.
  • Flickr Commons is a subset of Flickr used by museums, libraries and archives across the globe. Search on “sheetmusic” (NB all one word) to search the sheet music tag.
  • Lastly, this site is fabulous for French covers, particularly from the art nouveau and art deco periods. But beware: it’s curated by a private individual and copyright in some cases is dubious.

 

16626583803_4af1034602_z

The songs in La Figlia del Reggimento (illustration of soprano Jenny Lind) [1840-43] Jerwood Library, Trinity Laban.

Jerwood Library Collections

Here in the Jerwood Library we are starting to think about how we might make our illustrated sheet music more accessible. We have digitised some nineteenth century items here on Flickr Commons. We also have large amounts of twentieth-century illustrated covers in our Rita Williams Popular Song Collection, though, as yet, these are not digitised. And we are always acquiring new material through donation. So, if you want to know more, get in touch!

We’d also love to hear from you if you have used illustrated sheet music in your research – what did you use it for, how did you find it, what cataloguing/metadata did you find useful?

Opera for the cello: introducing Landrock and Kummer

A while back we promised that we would tell you more about some exciting finds we made in a donation of cello music. So, here goes…

Kummer l'elegant - Copy

L’élégant : divertimento on Herold’s opera Pré aux Clercs / Friedrich August Kummer, 1797-1879 (London : Wessel & Co., [183-?] )

As well as making lots of useful additions to our stock, we came across three extremely rare examples of early nineteenth-century opera arrangements for cello and piano. The works might not be well known today, but they offer a fascinating insight into contemporary music-making. They were composed with the domestic amateur market in mind, a growing middle-class group of people who could afford music, instruments and trips to the opera, and wanted to be able to recreate their favourite opera tunes in the home.

The first two pieces are arrangements by Friedrich Kummer of Ferdinand Hérold’s comic opera Le Pré aux Clercs. This opera had first been performed in Paris on 15 December 1832 and was considered to be one of the finest of its period. Kummer on the other hand was a little-known German cellist and composer who specialised in writing cello music for the amateur market. These two numbers he arranged from Le Pré aux Clerc – ‘L’élégant’ and the ‘Adagio and Rondoletto’ – were published in London soon after the premiere of the opera, demonstrating the speed with which music was adapted and travelled across Europe at this time. We also have an early edition of Le Pré aux Clerc in the special collections which formed part of Jullien’s Royal Conservatory of Music.

Landrock duo - Copy

Duo pour le piano et violoncelle sur les thêmes de l’opéra d’Auber Le Domino Noir / F. Landrock (Mayence [Mainz] et Anvers : chez les fils de B. Schott, [ca.1839])

The third example is by François Landrock and is an arrangement for cello and piano of Daniel Auber’s comic opera Le Domino Noir. This opera was first performed in Paris on 2 December 1837 and, again, was hugely successful throughout Europe. Landrock was a professor at the Geneva Conservatory and made this arrangement of the main themes of Auber’s opera around 1839. We also hold various full scores, vocal scores, and recordings of Le Domino Noir in the library so you can find out for yourself why it was so popular in the early nineteenth century.

We don’t know of any other copies of these arrangements in UK libraries, so if you would like to have a look for yourself, or would like performance copies made, then please get in touch.

Ronald Stevenson: RIP

Photo of Trinity Laban's Karl Lutchmayer with Ronald Stevenson and his wife Marjorie Spedding

Trinity Laban’s Karl Lutchmayer with Ronald Stevenson and his wife Marjorie Spedding (October 2014). Photo used with permission from Karl Lutchmayer.

We at the Jerwood Library are saddened to hear of the recent passing of Ronald Stevenson.

Stevenson was a gifted pianist and prolific composer, mainly composing songs and keyboard works. He was inspired by Busoni, and also drew on influences from Scotland (where he lived for many years) and elsewhere in his work. Malcolm MacDonald, his biographer, writes in Stevenson’s Grove entry that:

[His work] simultaneously draws inspiration from the folk music of many countries and uses the most sophisticated Western techniques.

Trinity Laban lecturer and pianist Karl Lutchmayer was close to Ronald Stevenson, and most recently visited him in October 2014 (as pictured above). Thanks to Karl, the Ronald Stevenson Society made a very generous and comprehensive donation of Ronald Stevenson scores and sheet music to the Jerwood Library. This donation has been fully catalogued and can be found on the library’s shelves. Follow this link to view a full listing of our Ronald Stevenson sheet music, or search our catalogue for Ronald Stevenson as composer and limit by type to sheet music/score.

In addition we own several recordings which feature Ronald Stevenson’s playing or his music, including this CD which combines both in one recording: his own 1964 performance of the 80-minute Passacaglia on DSCH, possibly the longest single-movement piano work in existence.

Martin Anderson describes the genesis of this piece in his obituary of Stevenson for The Independent:

He began a series of variations on DSCH (in German notation Shostakovich’s monogram gives the four notes D, E flat, C and B) and found that the music kept flowing – rather as Bach built the Goldberg Variations on a little lullaby and Beethoven his Diabelli Variations on a cocky little waltz.

If you would like to learn more about Ronald Stevenson or purchase any of his works, visit the Ronald Stevenson Society website. We also have Malcolm MacDonald’s biography of Stevenson in the library shelved at 789 STE.

 

Exciting new library donations

​​​​​​​We have been fortunate in recent weeks to have received a number of generous donations of printed music. The library office is definitely filling up with boxes!  The first of the recent donations was mostly cello music belonging to the late Brian Meddemmen which had been stored for a number of years in a garage in Australia! I was slightly apprehensive that we might find a surprise in the form of some Australian wildlife in amongst the boxes, but, to our relief, nothing has crawled/jumped/slithered out yet! Also luckily for us, this donation had already been partially sorted into categories, e.g. ‘standard/more well-known cello repertoire’, ‘more obscure cello repertoire’ and ‘chamber music including cello(s)’. Using most of the library office floor, I’ve sorted through one of the boxes so far, putting the music into alphabetical order by composer so we can quickly see what’s there. This is especially useful if someone puts in a request for a piece of cello music which we don’t have, as we can quickly check if it’s in the donation.

Just a couple of boxes of the recent cello donation - full of hidden gems!

Just a couple of boxes of the recent cello donation – full of hidden gems!

The next step is for us to check each item against our library catalogue. We will then make a note of whether we have it in stock. If we do already have a copy, we’ll also note whether it’s a different edition, how many copies we have and how many times the item has been out on loan. One of the librarians (usually Helen!) will then make a decision based on this and the condition of the item as to whether we will add it to the collection, or whether we will pass it on to students and staff for a nominal sum. This money would then be used to buy new items for the library.

Take for example the Dvorak Cello Concerto edited by Janos Starker. We already have one copy of this particular edition of the Dvorak Cello Concerto but as this is such a popular piece and has been borrowed from the library on over 50 occasions, we would probably choose to add a second copy to the collection so there are more copies to go round.

Exciting finds

Lied pour Violoncelle et Orchestre par Vincent D'Indy, Op. 19

Lied pour Violoncelle et Orchestre par Vincent D’Indy, Op. 19

On first inspection there looks to be lots of interesting cello repertoire which we don’t already have in the collection, for example cello sonatas by Grozlez, Tcherepnin, Dietrich and cello concertos by Vanhal, Romberg, Reicha, Borghi and Danzi, to name but a few! Lied by Vincent D’Indy (pictured) was published in 1885 but was only recorded for the first time in 1991 by Julian Lloyd Webber and the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier. We have also discovered an extremely rare piece of music for cello and piano: keep an eye on the Jerwood Library blog to find out more about our exciting find!

Other recent donations include lots of choral music/part songs from a Choral Society in Plumstead, and another generous donation of vocal music which belonged to leading operatic bass, Richard Angas, who died last year.

The library catalogue contains a list of the most recent printed music additions to the library collection.

Building the library’s sheet music collection

Photo of Janacek scores in the Jerwood Library

The library has established a new acquisitions policy on the basis of research recently undertaken in which we compared our collection with the holdings of four other conservatoire libraries in the UK, including the Royal Academy of Music. This showed us clearly where we were well provided and also where we were less well provided. We supplemented this research with feedback from the teaching staff at the Faculty of Music concerning their ideas about deficiencies in our provision.

Our findings have been published in the library’s printed music strategy on Moodle. This year we have been building our collection of vocal music and contemporary music, as the findings of our research indicate that these are two areas to prioritise. Works by Julian Anderson, Frank Zappa, György Kurtág, Harrison Birtwistle, Heinz Holliger, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Elliot Carter, and Jonathan Dove have been added to the collection and there is much more to come. Please see the library info section on the catalogue for the most recent acquisitions.

We are always interested in staff and student feedback so please let us know if there is anything else you would like to see. Should you have a specific piece in mind, purchase recommendation forms are kept at the library enquiry desk and on Moodle. If you’re a student, please get your teacher or another member of Trinity Laban staff to sign the form.