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…

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh Excitement!

Our friends at Edinburgh University Library’s Centre for Research Collections have been Edinburgh Treble Clefcataloguing their historical music collections, and it was with great excitement that I found these Excel spreadsheets online this evening!  Looking at the Reid Concert Hall Cupboard sequence, I found Thomas Hamley Butler’s Gin a body meet a body – a piano rondo from 1810.  It was registered at Stationers’ Hall on 13 April that year.  It’s very late at night, so I didn’t keep looking, but this certainly entices me to look much, much more closely.  Extraordinary useful lists, and fabulously fun!

KB Excel)
(Oh, I just found another Stationers’ Hall piece. Haley’s Le Dilettante d’Auvignon. Someone, stop me …..)

Pixis and his Hommage to Clementi

johann_peter_pixis_by_august_kneiselDuring the reign of King George IV, Johann Peter Pixis wrote his Hommage a Clementi, a set of piano variations on ‘God Save the King’, op.101.  Published in 1828 by S. Chappell, and also distributed by Henry Lemoine, copies went to all the copyright libraries.  As I’m transcribing each item on the two Advocates’ Library music sales lists, I’m looking to see where copies survived, and it’s rare to trace such near-complete coverage as I did with this piece.   Playing my game of ‘Happy Families’ with the list dated March 8th, 1830, I checked off an almost complete set still extant, in Aberdeen, St Andrews, Glasgow, Oxford, Cambridge and the British Library.  Clearly, variations on ‘God Save the King’ were generally considered worth keeping.  Indeed, St Andrews and Cambridge each hold two copies.  The popularity of the tune is corroborated in a recent book, Taking it to the Bridge: Music as performance, edited by Nicholas Cook and Richard Pettengill, p.114. 

Of course, the Advocates were selling theirs, and who knows what happened to the copy that presumably also went to the University of Edinburgh (aka ‘Edinburgh College’).  As for Sion College – I haven’t started investigating what happened to their music, yet.  I hope to visit my counterparts in Lambeth Palace soon, but my travel plans are a bit up in the air at the moment …

Pixis Variations op.101
“Difficult and devoid of interest” – Harmonicon, 1828

After several hours of transcribing grey, enlarged camera photos, I thought it might be fun to play this apparently desirable score.  It’s lucky I was able to visit Glasgow University Library, because a quick search online didn’t turn up a digitised copy.  Admittedly, I didn’t look very hard.  However, I did find a review of the piece in The Harmonicon of 1828, the music magazine which was enormously popular with library users in St Andrews!  Two of Pixis’ sets of variations are reviewed.  Do I really want to bother with something fit only for ‘crazy amateurs of Vienna’,  or nimble-fingered pianists with no judgement?  Maybe the Edinburgh advocates knew something …

I did find a rather dull piano rondo online …  but then again, his Double Concerto for violin and piano in F# minor is rather lovely! So who knows?

Storify: Wunderkind, Johann Peter Pixis

This posting sparked a veritable Twitter storm of enthusiastic commentary from German musicians and musicologists.  I have saved the entire conversation as a Storify story, involving Clara Wieck, Scottish tunes and variations, piano prodigies and virtuosi, frothy ephemeral music and the abovementioned lovely concerto.  Read on!

  • https://storify.com/karenmca/a-pixis-fixation
  • This is a link to an impromptu SoundCloud recording.  Some will say I have no shame.  My argument is that an average amateur pianist sight-reading the introduction to Pixis’ Hommage a Clementiin a chilly November Edinburgh house, would probably have sounded no better!  I promise to work at it ….

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

When Less is More and More is Less

This may sound as though I’m speaking in riddles.  Truly, I’m not!

I alluded in my earlier posting today to the question of “When less is more”, in the context of the apparently minimal amount of Stationers’ Hall music surviving at Edinburgh University Library, and how I was forced to look at the little that was there, in quite a close focus.

But I still have copies of those lists of music that was SOLD by the National Library of Scotland.  So, on the one hand, we have very little of the music surviving in what was then “Edinburgh College”.  On the other hand, we have a list of music that we know was discarded by the Advocates Library in 1830.

I’ve started to transcribe these lists – only a few pages, but interesting nonetheless.  But, how do I rationalise to other people just why they’re interesting?  And this is why:-

If I can establish which of these discarded pieces actually SURVIVED in different libraries, then I get a snapshot view – fragmented and  blurred, admittedly – of which libraries retained more, or less, and I can see if certain categories were more likely to survive at that time, shortly before the legal deposit system was radically reduced.  Yes, it means another spreadsheet.  But I still think there may be something interesting to unearth.  Watch this space!

And yes, I do still need to establish whether there is music surviving but not yet catalogued online. I know about some of the libraries, but not absolutely clearly for all of them.  That’s why I’m making my visits around the country!

 

 

 

 

Music Sold and Music Held

2017-11-01 14.38.44-1

Yesterday was spent in Edinburgh, examining an armful of old bound music volumes in Edinburgh University Library. These are the volumes with “Edinburgh College from Stationers Hall” stamps – possibly NOT the only legal deposit survivors, but potentially the only identifiable ones at present.  They also stand as a reminder that one should not leap to conclusions – every picture can be looked at from different angles and in different lights.  So, we can’t – at present – say that the Edinburgh professors retained no instrumental music, but we do know that they kept some sacred music, some national songs, and a rather turgid-looking tome on the thorough bass.  Other items could perhaps be bound in other volumes, unmarked and unrecognised – there isn’t a neatly ordered sequence of reasonably categorised copyright music, as in St Andrews, or a neatly ordered sequence of randomly-bound pieces, as in Aberdeen.

The instructional volume was A. F. C. Kollmann’s, A second practical guide to thorough bass. (It was printed for the author, who lived at Friary, St James’s Palace, in 1807, and was available either from Kollmann or “the principal music shops”),  initialled by Kollmann on the title page.  A similar copy in Copac is described as a “library copy”, which I think probably means it was a legal deposit copy.  Kollmann was Organist of His Majesty’s German Chapel at St James, and this was the sequel to an earlier guide.  It was dedicated to Her Royal Highness Princess Sophia Matilda.  (How fortunate she was!)  The bound volume contains further delights in the form of his Twelve Analysed Fugues, not to mention his Rondo on the Chord of the Diminished Seventh, and The melody of the hundredth psalm, with examples and directions for an hundred different harmonies, in four parts … op.9.  The final Kollmann item in this book is An air from Handel’s lessons, with nine variations for the piano forte.  There are numerous sacred pieces, not by Kollmann, but someone evidently felt there was room for a few more items before they sent Sacred Music Vol.1 (Shelfmark R.5) off to be bound.

I also saw a curious mishmash of an oratorio – a sad, bedraggled specimen by William Gardiner, who compiled Judah, a sacred oratorio in score, written, composed, and adapted to the works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven (London: printed for the author and sold by Clementi, Birchall, Preston, Goulding, Chappell, & The Harmonic Institution &c, [1821]).  It’s a full score, with brief instrumental interludes between larger choral sections, but strangely enough, the instrumental parts are not printed in score format, but one under another – they’d have had to be copied out.  One wonders whether it ever saw the light of day after reaching the library – is it bedraggled through heavy use, or has it suffered a lengthy period of neglect in the past?!  It is now at Shelfmark R.1, if you want to seek it out!

When less is more

When there’s apparently not much to look at, the only answer is to look more closely.  I noted what was in each of the volumes, and a few key dates, establishing that the music all dates from the first three decades of the nineteenth century.  I look for patterns of content, date or publisher, and when I’ve time, I check to see how many other libraries still have the same music.

The survival of several national song collections yet again confirm the popularity of this genre – Popular National Airs by Moore, Bunting’s A general Collection of the ancient music of Ireland, Kitchiner’s Loyal and National Songs of England and his The Sea Songs of England , and English-published collections of German and Russian songs – Arnim’s A Selection of Germany National Melodies, and the anonymous  The Russian Troubadour.  They’re interesting, not just as legal deposit specimens, but because of their paratextual commentary, revealing early 19th century views of English music – or, often, perceptions that the English had no national music!

It was strange turning the pages of these books and finding the same view emerging from three different authors, one after another.  In 1818, Moore’s advertisement began,

“It is Cicero, I believe, who says “natura ad modos ducimur;” and the abundance of wild, indigenous airs, which almost every country, except England, possesses, sufficient proves the truth of this assertion.”

Only a couple of years earlier (1814-16), Arnim’s dissertation, “On National Music” goes through the national characteristics of a number of countries, until we reach England on page 4.  Reader, there is good reason why the English have no national music – we’re apparently too busy!

“England may perhaps be said not to possess any national music at all. There are, no doubt, songs, yet it would be very difficult to recognise by them the character of the nation. To find out the cause of this singular phenomenon, in such a celebrated and great nation, will prove an interesting enquiry.” 

It goes on, describing how national music reflects national character, and how English songs,  “appear gay, although not very lively, and therefore pleasing, without producing a deep and lasting impression […] “But allowing the English to have strong passions, there exists another reason which explains the absence of national music in them; it is, they have no leisure to exhale their character in songs.”

Fortunately, in 1823, Kitchiner reports in his The loyal and national songs of England that although it has been said that, “the English have no national songs”, he can furnish a whole volume of them to disprove the theory.  Two volumes, if you count the sea song book published the same year!

While there,  I also looked at some archival documentation, though I didn’t get through as much as I had ambitiously hoped to survey.  I did find the reference to Stationers’ Hall music and books being sold in 1793 – Finlayson and Simpson alluded to this in Guild and Law’s book about Edinburgh University Library.  I had wondered if these sales were the tip of the iceberg, but after skimming through one and a half books of monetary receipts, I reluctantly concluded that the reference was either a one-off, or other sales must have been recorded elsewhere.  Possibly not so much the tip of the iceberg, as a solitary ice-cube!

2017-11-01 16.45.18Help!

I had intended to look at some library receipt books (loan registers), but ran out of time.  Does anyone fancy a quick romp through Da.2.3 (1766-1812), Da.2.4 (1805-1815) or Da.2.6 (Surgeons and others beside the professors, 1770-1810, 1784-1809), to see if any music loans can be traced?  In St Andrews, it was easy.  Music loans are noted as such – eg., “Music Vol.116”, so they jump out and hit you.  This may well not be the case in other libraries, and of course we also don’t know how much more – if any – of the copyright music was bound.

Home and Away

NLS Advocates Committee on Music 1856Waiting with bated breath to see if I’ll make it to the antipodes, this week I continued my explorations closer to home, visiting the National Library of Scotland yesterday to investigate music committee meetings at the Advocates Library in 1831-2, and later in 1856.  The Advocates Library (later to be absorbed into the National Library of Scotland) was one of the Scottish copyright libraries, so received the quarterly consignments of legal deposit materials, and indeed continued to receive them after the legislation had stripped most universities of legal deposit entitlements in 1836.

Dauney cover
Dauney – Ancient Scotish Melodies

Who should I immediately encounter but my old friend William Dauney?  He was to author Ancient Scotish Melodies in 1838, before he emigrated to British Guyana (as it was then).

He was in good company – John Donaldson was also on the committee.  Donaldson had started out as a music teacher in Glasgow, trained as a lawyer in Edinburgh, and eventually (on his fourth application) became fourth Reid Professor of Music at Edinburgh University in 1845.  (You can find out much, much more on the excellent Edinburgh University Reid Concerts database, here.)  But all this was well in the future, in 1831-2.  It was good to know that the music’s future wellbeing was in safe hands.

Dauney and Donaldson were joined by a Mr Monro – too common a name in Edinburgh Reid Concertto be sure of his identity, though there certainly was a Mr Monro in the tenor section of the 1842 Reid Concert, and he might have been a partner in the music-sellers Monro and May, who traded for a time in London.

I discovered that – horror! – just like Aberdeen and Edinburgh, the Advocates had been selling off their copyright music, too.  But before we gasp in righteous indignation, let’s remember that the legal deposit libraries had been receiving mountains of light popular music along with the more ‘worthy’ compositions – for example, on this very day in 1787, publishers Longman and Broderip made one of their very frequent trips to Stationers’ Hall to register Jonas Blewitt’s song, sung at Bermondsey’s Spa Gardens by Mr Burling – ‘Where are my Jolly Companions gone? A favourite drunken song.’  It is sadly understandable that many scholarly libraries couldn’t see the need for this material, whether or not they had a legal and moral obligation to take it.  There are still copies catalogued online in two libraries in the UK, if you’re curious to see how awful – or otherwise – the song might have been!

John Donaldson
Prof. John Donaldson
John Winter Jones
John Winter Jones

As a librarian myself, I smiled to read that after a week of deliberations, this committee couldn’t agree whether to classify music by composers’ names, or by publisher.  Small wonder they requested rules from the British Museum, which was somewhat ahead of them in terms of music librarianship!  John Winter Jones, Assistant Librarian at the Museum, took the lead in creating a catalogue there, and later became Principal Librarian.  I believe the “Ninety-one rules” originated during his time there.  (Ninety one! If he had only seen AACR2, Marc cataloguing, RDA and all the other cataloguing protocols now available …)

There remains one further excitement.  There are a couple of lists of music that was sold in 1823.  It’s very tempting to transcribe the lists and see what remains elsewhere in the country!