Beginnings

The AHRC-funded Claimed from Stationers’ Hall network commences in August 2017.  As planning progresses, more will appear on this blog.

Professor Playfair was Principal of the University of St Andrews.  He had a piano, and there’s plenty of evidence of a musically active family: he, and later, his sons in military retirement, all made heavy use of the copyright music collection at the University.  Library borrowing records tell us exactly what the men of the family borrowed, whilst the young Janet Playfair’s journal pages refer to a lively interest in music, both practically and as listener.  She may also have borrowed music as the prematurely widowed Mrs James Macdonald.  Her married sister Jean, Mrs Playfair of Dalmarnock, alluded in her 1807 journal (illustrated above) to music at a friend’s house, and a trip to hear the famous Madame Catalani, violinist Janiewicz, and Morelli, a comic singer and actor.  However, as the family grew, she seems to have had very little time for music, commenting instead either on domesticity and family matters, or current affairs.

The niece of one of the Principal’s colleagues was later to catalogue the University’s music collection – her two catalogue books survive to this day, and indeed, were occasionally borrowed by the professors – presumably to assist with their music selection!  The music, along with the catalogues and borrowing records, enable us to form a richly nuanced impression of music-making in a rather remote University town.  This is the impetus for the present project, seeking to unearth the stories lurking behind the music in other UK copyright library collections.

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