Victorian Catalogues – This Might Help

Now

Copac searchWe tend to take catalogues for granted.  We expect them to tell us everything about a book, score or recording – author, title, publisher and publication date, pagination, unique identifying numbers (ISBN, ISMN or publishers’ code), and the contents of an album or collection of pieces. We look for the author or composer, the editor(s) – and expect to be able to know which is which.  In modern, online catalogues, this metadata is all carefully entered into special machine-readable fields as a “MARC record”.  That’s a MAchine-Readable Cataloguing record.

Not so Long Ago

When I began work as a librarian, I was taught how to catalogue onto pre-printed MARC data entry forms which the library assistants then entered into the library computer system.  Computer tapes were run overnight to upload the data to a cooperative system hosted in the Midlands, and shared by a number of libraries.  Things are more streamlined now!

A Couple of Centuries Ago

Vol 40 Miss Lambert catalogueBut what about our Victorian forefathers or the Georgians before them?  By the early 19th century, library catalogues of books were often prepared as printed volumes, but this wasn’t the case for the music I’ve been looking at.  Take the University of St Andrews’ handwritten catalogue made by Miss Elizabeth Lambert in the 1820s.  If there were (for example) three completely separate pieces making up a set of sonatas or songs, then it was not unusual for her to write a composite entry: “Three sonatas”, “Six Quadrilles on airs from Le Comte Ory” or whatever.

In 1831, a meeting of the Curators at the Advocates’ Library – the precursor to the National Library of Scotland – agreed that their copyright music had been handled with a worrying degree of laxity, and decided that things had to be tightened up by appointing a music committee.  Rules were drawn up regarding the handling and curation of this material, from arrival through to borrowing (yes, borrowing! It wasn’t yet a national reference library, after all) – not to mention calculating replacement costs and barring readers who had lost books, until they paid up!

However, it took until 1856-7 – by which time John Donaldson had become the Fourth Reid Professor at the University of Edinburgh – for the committee to decide that formal cataloguing rules were needed.  Donaldson was at least a musician. Several committee members seem to have been in the legal profession. They spent a week thinking about how to set about it, debating whether to enter items under the composers’ names, or the publishers.  And then they asked the experts at the British Museum.  They received, by return, the rules used for cataloguing music, and adopted them for their own use.

This week, I looked at the National Library of Scotland’s Victorian Catalogue.  I was trying to identify items on those two mysterious lists of music from 1830.  They presumably wouldn’t have been catalogued until after 1857, if I’m interpreting the facts right.  It took a little while before I realised just how far things have come since then!

Filing Systems

2017-12-06 15.28.25In the Victorian catalogue, music is entered alphabetically by composer, and then alphabetically by title within each composer’s output.  However, the alphabetical titles were often alphabetical by genre rather than by exact title, so Selected Marches might be followed by Fourth March then Fifth March and then would come Favorite Quadrilles on airs from Rossini’s Le Comte Ory.  (“Quadrilles” are alphabetically after “Marches”, and never mind about the words before them in the title!)  Today, we create “uniform titles”, which standardise titles for filing purposes.  By comparison, the Victorians had uniform titles in their heads but nothing like that on the catalogue slip!

Statements of Responsibility (aka, Entry Points)

This is modern library-speak for the names of people involved with creating the book or composition, whether they wrote, edited, or arranged it, or supplied some specialised service such as the fingering or bowing in a piano or violin piece, or indeed, writing an introduction or compiling an index at the end.  Things are sometimes a bit more complicated than that.

For example, if Halevy wrote a piece, then clearly he was the main author.  If he wrote a duet arrangement of themes in someone else’s overture, then in today’s parlance, he’d be the arranger.  If he wrote variations on a theme, then you could argue that he was an author in his own right – the variations wouldn’t exist without him writing them.  Thanks to online cataloguing, you’d find the piece regardless of what his contribution was, and in the case of sets of variations, the original composer of a theme would probably get a mention too.  (The rules are clear, but if you check Copac, you find that sometimes the same piece has been catalogued by different libraries with either composer as the main entry, because it’s admittedly a slightly grey area – it doesn’t matter hugely, so long as the piece can be found!)

IMAGES FROM AACR2 (Anglo American Cataloguing Rules 2nd Edition)

Now, in the days before online cataloguing, say, fifty years ago, an arranger or editor would have had an “added entry” with his name above the name of the original composer, so two catalogue cards would have been typed, and one filed under each individual’s name.

However, in the Victorian catalogue, you’d find Halevy’s compositions, sorted from A-Z, as I’ve just described, and then a second series of pieces sorted from A-Z, that he’d edited or arranged in some way.  And the second sequence weren’t always complete entries.  Sometimes, the card was just a cross-reference: it didn’t tell you which volume the piece was in, but the original composer’s name was underlined.  So you’d then go and look under their name, to find out which volume contained the piece you were seeking.

As for publication and physical details – most records in the Victorian catalogue seem merely to inform us that the work was published in London, and was folio size. Not really very informative!

Those two lists from 1830 contained some 147 pieces, a few of which I had been unable precisely to identify.  I made a valiant start trying to see how many of the identifiable ones could actually be traced in the Victorian catalogue.  I didn’t get to the end of the lists!  However, it did look as though the majority were there in some form.  Had I been prepared to spend quite a few more hours on the task, looking for cross-references and arrangements in other places, maybe I’d have found more of them.  I was at least able to establish that these lists seemed to be of pieces that the Advocates wanted to keep, rather than pieces they intended to sell.  The lists didn’t look like Mr Greenhill’s lists from Stationers’ Hall; the Stationers’ Hall lists came quarterly, in books, and more closely written, whilst the Advocates’ lists were on loose sheets of paper, more spaced out, and dated as consecutive months: February and March 1830.

Of the pieces that I managed to trace in my two-hour session, most appeared to be bound into music volumes numbered from 1 to 68.  I traced a handful in later-numbered volumes, but it was a bit difficult to be certain, when the handwritten lists themselves had given me little to go on!

2017-12-06 15.27.11It always pays to enquire whether there are other old card catalogues that may not be on general public access.  The National Library of Scotland’s Victorian catalogue, and Glasgow’s main public reference library, The Mitchell’s Kidson collection, are just two examples.  Because they’re paper slips in long trays, you have to be a bit careful with them, and access may have to be arranged under supervision of a member of staff.  But these are valuable resources, and may be the only way of accessing a historical collection of music.  Who would have thought it, in these days of online catalogues – or OPACs*, as we fondly refer to them.

*Online Public Access Catalogues, to those in the trade!

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The Origins of Scottish Copperplate Engraving (Musical and Otherwise)

It is with great pleasure that we share our second guest blogpost, this time by Dr Kelsey Jackson Williams, Lecturer in Early Modern Literature at the University of Stirling, and Printer, The Pathfoot Press.  If you’ve ever wondered what the process of music engraving actually entails, then your questions are about to be answered here.

 

One of the vast treasure trove of musical scores which falls within the remit of the Claimed from Stationers’ Hall project is the imposingly named A Collection of the Ancient Martial Music of Caledonia, called Piobaireachd as performed on the Great Highland Bagpipe. Now also adapted to the Piano Forte Violin and Violoncello. With a few old Highland lilts purposely set for the above modern instruments. To which is prefixed a complete tutor for attaining a thorough knowledge of the pipe music, compiled by the Skye native and prominent bagpipe-maker Dòmhnall MacDhòmhnaill (1766/7-1840) and published in Edinburgh in 1820.

A Collection of the Ancient Martial Music of Caledonia

Like many musical scores of the period, MacDhòmhnaill’s work was reproduced through copperplate engraving, a process which remained a mainstay of music publishing until the dawn of the twenty-first century (I was surprised to discover in the process of my research for this blogpost that even the Henle Verlag scores I practiced from as a teenager were still made by this traditional process!).  Copperplate engraving, as the names implies, involves the etching of the image, in this case a score, on a copper plate with a stylus known as a burin.  For musical publishing, it offered what could often prove to be a more economical, cleaner method of producing a score than the setting of music in moveable type, a slow, expensive, and painful process at the best of times.

But copperplate engraving was also a highly specialised skill, only invented in the fifteenth century and slow to spread across Europe.  As late as 1732 Alexander Munro’s Collection of the Best Scots Tunes escaped the net of the 1709 Copyright Act because it was printed not in Edinburgh, as might have been expected, but in Paris, quite probably because the engravers of Edinburgh were not yet up to the task of preparing forty-five pages of music for the press.

A Collection of the Best Scots Tunes

How, then, did Edinburgh music publishing make the leap from the Parisian workshop of Jacques Dumont in the 1730s to the Edinburgh offices of Walker and Anderson in the 1820s?  Many aspects of that story remain, as yet, unknown and I don’t propose to answer this question here, but rather to digress somewhat – in typical academic fashion – and look at the origins of the Scottish engraving industry, the same which would eventually produce craftsmen able to create such polished and elegant pieces as MacDhòmhnaill’s Piobareachd.

That industry had its origins in the Scottish early Enlightenment.  Only a handful of engravers were active in Scotland in the latter part of the seventeenth century, though some of those produced work of a very high standard.  Beginning around 1700, however, the Scottish engraving market began to expanded exponentially with somewhere in the region of fifteen to twenty engravers being active in Edinburgh alone during the first quarter of the century.  It was no coincidence that this coincided with a shift in the Scottish printing economy.  Beginning with the 1707 publication of volume one of George Mackenzie’s Lives and Characters of the Most Eminent Writers of the Scots Nation, Scottish printers and booksellers turned to a subscription model for producing specialist, high-cost works, whether those were antiquarian, literary, or musical in their contents.  By shifting the economic risk from the printer to the individual subscribers, the Scottish book trade was suddenly able to produce far more of these works than it had before and this, in turn, led to the creation of a niche but growing market for print luxuries like engraving.

While Munro’s Collection fits within this narrative – boasting as it does an impressive subscription list of the great and the good of early eighteenth-century Scottish society – it was by no means the first time that engravers had been co-opted into the subscription publication model.  Instead, this had previously happened with works on antiquarianism, particularly heraldry.  Scholars such as Alexander Nisbet (1657-1725) had come close to bankrupting themselves commissioning lavish engravings for their works, engravings which offer some of our best evidence for the extent and skill of the trade at the time.

Robert Wood's
Robert Wood’s engraving of the heraldic achievement and probative quarters of the Duke of Queensberry, commissioned by Alexander Nisbet.

It was no surprise that Edinburgh engravers were more comfortable with heraldry than with music.  Some of our earliest evidence for Scottish engraving comes in the form of heraldic bookplates and it seems likely that the first growth of the trade in Edinburgh was in response to the growing fashion for bookplates amongst the middle- and upper-class reading public of Enlightenment Scotland.  As private libraries grew apace, their owners looked to the urban luxury trades – whether engravers, book binders, or others – for ways to distinguish theirs from the mix.

What the ultimate origins of Scottish engraving were – whether lying with Scots training on the continent or continental engravers immigrating to Scotland – and how it first developed its musical side are areas which remain to be studied.  I’ll happily leave the latter to other, more knowledgeable scholars than myself, but I’m currently working on the former as part of a larger project on the arts and thought of early Enlightenment Scotland (which you can read more about here).  I’ll sign off for the moment, though, with the reflection that, odd as it may seem, the origins of Scottish musical engraving lie in the production of bookplates for aristocratic readers in the intellectually teaming environment of Edinburgh at the turn of the eighteenth century.

Kelsey Jackson Williams

University of Stirling

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halfway Round the Globe and Back

My talk in DunedinI returned from New Zealand yesterday morning.  If you’d like to read about the University of Otago’s Centre for Book Research Seminar and the UNESCO Creative Cities Southern Hui, please follow this link.  (And here’s a quick YouTube flick-through of my slides – don’t worry, it’s not the whole presentation!)

 

Venanzio Rauzzini (1746-1810): castrato, composer and copyright obsessed?

We’re delighted to share our first guest blogpost, by Dr Brianna E Robertson-Kirkland. It’s fascinating to read about this Georgian musician’s passionate interest in copyright!

 

William_Herschel_Museum_-_portrait_of_Vananzio_Rauzzini
Figure 1: Portrait of Venanzio Rauzzini with his dog Turk. At the Herschel Museum of Astronomy. Wikimedia Commons.

As the reigning primo uomo at the King’s Theatre from 1774-1778 (and then briefly again in 1784), Venanzio Rauzzini enjoyed many privileges. A handsome salary, opportunities to compose his own arias and some pull when it came to casting; the castrato used all of his clout to demonstrate his versatility in the music industry. Prior to his London residency, he had shown an enthusiasm for composition as well as singing, having composed the opera Piramo e Tisbe, performed for the Bavarian court in 1769 and ‘two or three comic operas […] which has been very much approved’ (Rice, 2015: 6 & Burney, 1775, 1:128). His passion for composition did not diminish as he continued to write opera, songs and even instrumental music after his immigration to Britain. Composing opera in which he starred also gave Rauzzini the opportunity to showcase the talents of his young students. Vocal teaching was just another strand in his multidimensional musical career. One such student, Nancy Storace, debuted on the operatic stage as Cupido in Rauzzini’s L’Ali D’Amore at the tender age of 11 as well as performing alongside her master in the cantata setting of La Partenza in 1777.

Opera in London was constantly surrounded by gossip and scandal. Moreover, claims of copyright were a tricky, controversial subject. Arias and songs were frequently removed from one opera and inserted into pasticcio. Such light-hearted theatre entertainments resembled a patchwork of favourite operatic numbers held together by a somewhat loose and generally absurd plot. While one arranger would oversee such a production, lyrics and occasionally the music were altered, blurring the lines between arranger, editor and composer. Expectations from singers added an extra complication since they frequently added their own unique flair to arias to ensure originality. If a singer was known for singing a particular aria, it was generally expected they would utilise it as a suitcase aria, inserting it into operas at their demand. The composer’s name usual appeared, even when a suitcase aria was performed, but when singers names were branded on title pages, often in a bigger font, it is not too far of a leap to assume the singer felt an equal sense of ownership.

RangeTheFields_0000 karen blog post
Figure 2: Singers John Braham and Catherine Stephens names appear but in this example no composer is even listed. This was not an uncommon sight. Together let us range the fields [words by Edward Moore ; composed by William Boyce [c. 1815]. [Available from: https://archive.org/details/RangeTheFields46587 ]
This is perhaps why the controversy between Rauzzini and fellow composer Antonio Sacchini became so heated. Not only had the two written an opera of the same name, L’eroe cinese, the similarity between the two was remarkable, leading to gossip that Rauzzini had ghost-written the original for Sacchini (Rice, 2015: 126). There was a further claim that Rauzzini had composed most of his own arias when playing the leading role in Sacchini’s operas. This was not uncommon, as Rauzzini often composed his own arias, though it was unusual that Sacchini should gain the credit. Neither benefitted from the controversy and afterward Rauzzini was far more diligent in claiming authorship over his work.

Michael Kassler’s comprehensive list of Music Entries at Stationers’ Hall, 1710–1818 reveals from 1795 onwards Rauzzini regularly entered his compositions into Stationer’s Hall including all 14 songs appearing in A Periodic Collection of Vocal Music published in two volumes in 1797. However, Rauzzini neglected to enter his Twelve Solfeggi or exercises to be sung by the voice (1808) – a final publication that provided a legacy for over forty years’ experience in vocal teaching. In his preface, Rauzzini writes:

I think that after a practice of thirty four years in England, during which time, I have had the opportunity of reflecting on the different dispositions and abilities of a great many Pupils professional as well as Dilettanti, my opinion may be relied on, and my advice followed, therefore, confiding on that Experience (1808: 1).

If this treatise was to be his legacy, why not enter it too? Did he not fear that his work could be stolen or claimed to be someone else’s work? The solfeggi are excellent examples of vocal exercises, but they lack an indicative style (which was perhaps the point of such exercises) that could make it more difficult to identify them as Rauzzini’s work. That being said, Rauzzini died just two years after this publication and before his second volume A second sett of solfeggi for the voice was published. Perhaps, he was simply too old to care. Or perhaps, there was a different attitude towards singing treatises in terms of copyright? Though there are some entries for music treatises listed by Kassler, compared to song compositions they are relatively few. This begs the question: why were music treatises not regularly entered?

While Rauzzini’s treatise continued to be recommended by other masters as late as the 1830s, his original treatises was manipulated and bastardised creating Exercises for the Voice, consisting of various solfeggi, collected from manuscripts of the late Venanzio Rauzzini (1817). While the title was careful not to claim Rauzzini as the creator a quick read of the preface reveals its origins – none other than Rauzzini’s 1808 publication with several alterations to make it more appealing to a ‘beginner’ consumer. This had never been Rauzzini’s intended clientele having written his original for more advanced students.

So what was the relationship between copyright and the education manual? I have to admit prior to this Stationer’s Hall project, I had not thought very much of it. Then again, treatises were being churned out at such a rapid rate with every teacher claiming a unique or original method of teaching perhaps it is an area that begs for further research.

References

Burney, Charles. 1775. The Present State of Music in Germany, the Netherlands and United Provinces, second ed. London: T. Becket, J. Robson and G. Robinson

Rauzzini, Venanzio. 1808. Twelve Solfeggi or Exercises for the Voice to be Vocalised, London: Goulding and D’Almaine

Rice, Paul 2015. Venanzio Rauzzini in Britain. Castrato, Composer and Cultural Leader, New York: University of Rochester Press

 

Brianna is Lecturer in Music (Historical Musicology) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and Course Convenor (MCLNC) and Performance Course Facilitator at the University of Glasgow.

New Page: To Dunedin, New Zealand

kiwi-153466_640November 2017

I’m thrilled to say that the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has awarded me funding to enable me to travel to Dunedin, to give a paper at the University of Otago’s Centre for the Book annual Research Symposium and then attend the UNESCO Creative Cities’ Southern Hui.  Such an exciting trip merits a new page, which I’ll update along the way.  More here…

We’re a research network! (And Scroll Down for the Pixis Variations Challenge!)

Pixis Hommage a Clementi TP
Title page of Hommage a Clementi, by Pixis. Image from copy in Glasgow University Library Collection, with thanks

It feels like time for a quick update, so I’ll spend the last few minutes of the working day doing just that.  Here’s a quick reminder of what the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall music research network is all about:-

The project is investigating the music deposited in the former British Copyright Libraries under the Queen Anne Copyright Act and subsequent legislation up to 1836, when most university libraries lost their legal deposit entitlement, receiving book grants instead. The repertoire largely dates from the late 1780s (when legal action clarified the entitlement of music to copyright protection) through to 1836.

The project aims to establish what exactly has survived; whether there are interesting survival patterns; and the histories of the music’s acquisition, curation and exploitation, not just in during that era, but also subsequently. It also aims to raise the profile of the material and to foster more engagement with it, both within and outwith academia; and the repertoire can be used to inform historical cultural perceptions which often became embedded into contemporary writings; for example, an idea very prevalent during the 19th century was that the English had no national music; and yet collections of national songs were very popular.  Thus, both the  fact that these books were popular, and our close reading of the paratext within individual volumes can be used to inform our modern-day understanding.  But a nation’s music is not just “national songs”, of course – it’s the whole repertoire of music published within that country.

To date, I’ve visited the University Libraries of St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow.  I’ve been in touch with retired scholars from Aberdeen, and I’ve visited the National Library of Scotland.  Next, I need to spread my wings south of the border, and hopefully after a few more such meetings, we’ll have a clearer idea of what we’d like to talk about when we plan a study day to be held in Spring 2018.

The exciting, and yet tantalising part of all these visits is the realisation that there is a lot to explore, but not being able to stop and do all the research then and there!  For example, there are undoubtedly pieces of legal deposit music at the University of Edinburgh that aren’t labelled as such, but that appear in other copyright libraries and therefore probably arrived by the same means.  I so long to find them all, or to encourage other people to find them!  Similarly, the University of Glasgow has a very generous collection of copyright music – alluded to by the late 19th century author, W. P. Dickson amongst “works of fiction, juvenile literature, fugitive poetry, and music … issued yearly from the press” – but previously summarised by Divinity Professor Dr McGill in 1826 as “a great many idle books”.   (Dickson, The Glasgow University Library, 1888 p.16)  I’m eager to see if I can work out which volumes they might have been in before they were re-bound into their present volumes!  Meanwhile, the National Library of Scotland has an online catalogue, a card catalogue, but also “the Victorian catalogue”.  This I must see!

It is interesting to reflect that earlier musicologists have also had a hand in the arrangement and preservation of these materials.  Cedric Thorpe Davie in St Andrews disbound some volumes, and moved pieces to different places in the library.  Fourth Reid Professor Donaldson got involved with the Advocates’ collections in Edinburgh; Hans Gal had a go at listing some of the Edinburgh University Library Collections; and Henry Farmer spent some time in what for anyone else would have been retirement, as a music librarian at Glasgow University Library – one of the many careers in his portfolio! – and yes, he did some sorting out and rearranging, too.  Whilst we sigh over the thought of original sources being shuffled, we also owe these chaps a debt of gratitude for taking care of them and ensuring that they were preserved at all.

The Pixis Variations Challenge

I long to play, or hear performed, some of these long-forgotten treasures.  I’ve been generously allowed by the Special Collections department of Glasgow University Library, to share a set of piano variations by the now forgotten German composer, Pixis:  Hommage a Clementi, which are actually based on the National Anthem, ‘God Save the King’.   I’m putting them on our Twitter feed and Facebook page, one page at a time.  At page 3, my pianistic skills are already being stretched beyond their comfort zone!  I wonder if anyone will get to the end …. ?  PLEASE let us know if you do!

Other pieces were undeniably less interesting.  I tweet “on this day” posts about some of the pieces that were registered, just to give a flavour of what was being published.  These references come with no value-judgements whatsoever!  Luckily for me, I don’t have instant access to all these pieces, so I would only go out of my way to hunt down something that looked particularly intriguing.

Here, for the record, is the start of Pixis’s variations – I’ll add the rest in due course.  Please do keep following the blog!  And I’m pleased to say that it’s not long before the first of our guest postings will appear – a welcome change of “voice” and a fresh insight into a different aspect of this fascinating topic.

Pixis Hommage a Clementi p1

Pixis Hommage a Clementi p2

 

Pixis Hommage a Clementi p3Pixis Hommage a Clementi p4Pixis Hommage a Clementi p5Pixis Hommage a Clementi p6Pixis Hommage a Clementi p7Pixis Hommage a Clementi p8Pixis Hommage a Clementi p9

Pixis Hommage a Clementi p10Pixis Hommage a Clementi p11