Hans Gal, Bibliographer and Musicologist

Hans Gal in Wikipedia
Hans Gal (Wikipedia)

Hans Gal (1890-1987) catalogued Edinburgh University’s Reid Music Library during the summer and autumn of 1938, at the instigation of Sir Donald Tovey. The latter was keen to find work for the gifted composer and musicologist, who had emigrated from Vienna when Hitler annexed Austria.  (Here’s a recording of his earlier Promenadenmusik for wind band, which he wrote in 1926. )  A grant from the Carnegie Trust enabled Gal’s catalogue to be published in 1941. When the Second World War ended, Gal joined the University music staff, and remained there beyond retirement age.

The reader is referred to the Hans Gal website for further biographical information (I am checking this weblink, which occasionally falters):- http://www.hansgal.org/ 

Gál, Hans, Catalogue of manuscripts, printed music and books on music up to 1850 : in the Library of the Music Department at the University of Edinburgh (Reid Library) (London, Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1941)

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(Partially) catalogued by Gal

The catalogue is in three parts, listing manuscripts, printed music, and books on music. Gal did not list every individual piece of music in the library, but prioritised more serious classical music, whether vocal or instrumental. One might suggest that there were various reasons for Gal’s decision.

In his preface, he explains that, ‘for practical reasons I confined this catalogue to the old part of the library, namely the manuscripts, printed music and books on music up to 1850, which is the latest limit of issues that might be looked upon as of historical importance’. [Gal, vii]

However, this was not the only limitation placed on the listing. Gal omitted many of the pieces of sheet music that must have arrived as legal deposit copies during the Georgian era, until copyright legislation changed in 1836.  The Reid music cupboards contained a number of Sammelbänder, or ‘binder’s volumes’, ie, bound volumes of assorted pieces of music.  Occasionally Gal made oblique reference to these, eg, to cover the 44 items in volume D 96:-

“Songs, Arias, etc., by various composers (Th. Smith, D. Corri, Bland, R. A. Smith, Rauzzini, Davy, Kelly, Urbani; partly anon.)  Single Editions by Longman & Broderip, Urbani, Polyhymnian Comp., etc., London (ca. 1780-1790). Fol.             D 96″ [Gal, 44]

Longman & Broderip were prolific music publishers, amongst the most assiduous of firms making trips to Stationers’ Hall to register new works. They published a lot of theatrical songs and arrangements, and much dance music, as well as the more serious, ‘classical’ music repertoire.  The catalogue entry cited above details some more commonly known composers of decidedly middle-of-the road, if not downmarket material.  One does not need to speculate as to whether Gal considered such material less respectable, for he made no secret of his disdain for much of the music published in this era!  In the preface, he asserts that,

“The gradual declining from Thomas Arne to Samuel Arnold, Charles Dibdin, William Shield, John Davy, Michael Kelly, is unmistakeable, although there is still plenty of humour and tunefulness in musical comedies such as Dr Arnold’s “Gretna Green”, Dibdin’s “The Padlock”, Shield’s numerous comic operas and pasticcios.

“After 1800 the degeneration was definitive, in the sacred music as well as in songs and musical comedy. […] It is hardly disputable that the first third of the nineteenth century, the time of the Napoleonic Wars and after, was an age of the worst general taste in music ever recorded in history, in spite of the great geniuses with which we are accustomed to identify that period.” [Gal, x]

Faced with several hundred of such pieces in a number of bound volumes, and quite possibly a limited number of months in which to complete the initial cataloguing, it is hardly surprising if Gal was content to make a few generic entries hinting at this proliferation of ‘bad taste’. (One might add as an aside, that Gal’s wife at one point observed that Gal ‘hated swallowing the dust in archives’, in connection with an earlier extended project in the late 1920s – clearly, he was able to overcome his distaste when the need arose! (See http://www.hansgal.org/hansgal/42, citing private correspondence of 10.10.1989)

Interestingly, it is evident that Edinburgh, like several other of the legal deposit libraries, must have been selective in what was retained, but it’s significant that national song books were certainly considered worth keeping. Gal, in turn, included some of the prominent titles in his listing.

Thus, Gal’s catalogue is another reminder to us that the history of music claimed from Stationers’ Hall under legal deposit in the Georgian era, actually and actively continues beyond the Georgian era, for the material has already been curated by musicologists and bibliographers prior to our own generation.  In St Andrews, Cedric Thorpe Davie took an active interest, whilst Henry George Farmer was involved in curating the University of Glasgow collection.

Meanwhile, in connection with the current Claimed From Stationers’ Hall network research, the priority is to establish which volumes – formerly in the Reid School of Music cupboards, but now in the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections – were received under legal deposit. Two spread-sheet listings enable us to examine the contents of different volumes, by volume:-

Centre for Research Collections: Directory of Rare Book Collections: Reid Music Library:- https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/crc/collections/rare-books-manuscripts/rare-books-directory-section/reid-music

Where publication dates are not given in the spread-sheet, they can be looked up in Copac, and even if there are no decisive dates, then their presence in other legal deposit collections will suggest that these copies arrived by the same route. If music predates 1818, then works can be looked up in Michael Kassler’s Music Entries at Stationers’ Hall, 1710-1818, from Lists prepared for William Hawes, D. W. Krummel and Alan Tyson.  (Click here for Copac entry.)

Essentially, the first task is to ascertain which volumes contain legal deposit music, and then to look not only at what survives, but whether there are any patterns to be discerned. In terms of musicological, book, library or cultural history, the question today is not whether the music was ‘degenerate’ or in ‘bad taste’, but to ask ourselves what it tells us about music reception and curation in its own and subsequent eras.

I’d better get back to the spreadsheets!

Here’s a piece Gal wrote in 1939, only a short while after his cataloguing months: Hans Gal “What a Life!” – Die Ballade vom Deutschen Refugee (The Ballad of the German Refugee)

Postscript: as an interesting twist in the world of library and book history, my own copy of Gal’s catalogue was purchased secondhand – a withdrawn copy from a university library where the music department closed a few years ago.  What goes around, comes around, as they say!

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Copyright ABCs – ‘The Scots Musical Museum’

Posted on the very excellent Echoes from the Vault blog by the capable and insightful Special Collections team at the University of St Andrews, another interesting article touching on the Copyright Collection there.  (And it’s about one of the seminal books in Scottish music, as I discussed in my book, Our Ancient National Airs …)

Echoes from the Vault

The Lighting the Past team share their highlights from the ‘M’ section of the Copyright Deposit Collection. You can see the previous posts in the series here.

Title page 1_1 The title page of vol. 1 of the St Andrews copy of The Scots Musical Museum. s M1746.J8S3 Vol. 1

While cataloguing the ‘M’ classmark (music) of the Copyright Deposit Collection, Lighting the Past discovered 5 volumes from The Scots Musical Museum, a 1787-1803 Edinburgh publication attempting to capture all Scots folk music and verse, amounting to 6 volumes once complete.

Robert Burns took a keen interest in the planned compilation project whilst in Edinburgh in 1787, writing ‘An Engraver, James Johnson, in Edin[burgh] has, not from mercenary views but from an honest Scotch enthusiasm, set about collecting all our native Songs and setting them to music.’ With Burns as the principal editor of vols. 2-4 (he died prior to the publication…

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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 in 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 lists of music from the Advocates Library in 1830, but we don’t know what the purpose of the lists was.

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 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!

 

 

 

 

Sion College Library Provenance Project

Followers of the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall music research project may be aware that Sion College (in London) was one of the original legal deposit libraries, and Karen is planning to pay a visit to Lambeth Palace Library, where the Sion College library holdings ended up, in the next few months.

It is therefore of HUGE interest to note that Lambeth Palace Library is working on a really significant project tracing provenance of the Sion College Library collections.  A circular was emailed to rare books librarians today, explaining precisely what this project is all about.  We have permission to share this notification here, and are more than happy to spread the joy!

“Lambeth Palace Library is pleased to announce the re-launch of the Sion College Library Provenance Project, which has been migrated to a dedicated WordPress account. The new site allows you to search through galleries of hundreds of images (which are being regularly uploaded), including an array of armorial bindings, bookplates, inscriptions and much more from the Sion College Library collection.

“All the pre-1850 material from Sion College came to Lambeth Palace Library in 1996 and is now the focus of a major cataloguing project which is uncovering a wealth of provenance evidence. Viewers are warmly invited to not only search the database to discover its fascinating contents, but are encouraged to actively contribute by helping us identify marks of provenance within the collection, providing information with which to supplement and enrich our detailed catalogue records. Please do have a look and try your hand at some transcriptions and identifications. We look forward to hearing your comments!”

Sion College Project

Building a Network

spider-web-with-water-beads-921039__340

I spent the day authoring and starting to disseminate the first network Newsletter; actually, it’s both an update and an invitation to particate!  After spending some time this evening reading MailChimp’s instructions, I worked out how to get the hyperlink for viewing in your browser.  Triumph!  Click the link to read it, here.

By way of light relief, I opened my favourite book – Kassler’s Music Entries at Stationers’ Hall* – to see what was registered on this day, over 200 years ago.  Two surprises awaited me.  In 1784, John Valentine of Leicester registered Thirty Psalm Tunes in Four Parts, and eleven copies are still extant, not only in legal deposit libraries.  Plainly psalm tunes were considered worth keeping (or leaving to libraries!); not only that, but Trinity College Dublin has a copy, and they didn’t as a rule show much interest in trivial matter such as legal deposit music.

The second surprise was some piano trios by Pleyel, dedicated to Miss Elizabeth Wynne and registered on 20th September 1790.  According to Copac, several copies survive in UK, and the British Library also has copies with a later date posited.  And there could still be others not yet catalogued online.  But here’s the exciting bit – you can access a German edition on IMSLP.  Who wants to be first to play it?!

http://imslp.org/wiki/3_Keyboard_Trios,_B.437-439_(Pleyel,_Ignaz)

* Michael Kassler, author of Music Entries at Stationers’ Hall, 1710-1818 : from lists prepared for William Hawes, D. W. Krummel and Alan Tyson  (Ashgate 2004), advises us that ‘since the demise of Ashgate, it is now published in hard copy and as an e-book by Routledge, and the e-book is £30 cheaper. See https://www.routledge.com/Music-Entries-at-Stationers-Hall-17101818-from-lists-prepared-for/Kassler/p/book/9780754634584

19th September – a pure coincidence

I checked Kassler’s Music Entries at Stationers’ Hall (2004) last night, to discover that although music wasn’t registered on a daily basis, it was actually registered on that date in three consecutive decades: 1797, 1807, and 1817.  A curious confluence of the stars, nothing more, but it made an interesting thumbnail case-study.Rauzzini On 19th September 1797: Singer and singing teacher Rauzzini registered no.7 of his Periodical Collection of Vocal Music.  Few copies survive, and it’s a bit hard to tell which volume contains no.7, though I know an expert who could probably locate it!

vauxhall gardens theatreAlso OTD in 1797, Bland & Weller registered James Hook’s Vauxhall Gardens song, Maidens would you know?, along with Hook’s Welsh song, Jem of Aberdovey, and his When the sprightly fife and drum.  It’s all pretty typical fare – a song  by a popular Bath impresario, and some Vauxhall Gardens songs including a ‘national’ and a military song, by composers still (just) known today.  As it happens, there were also imprints of another ‘Jem’ song by Hook under English, Irish and Scottish imprints – Jem of Aberdeen! – but that’s not part of the 19th September story.  You can trace a few copies in Copac, but certainly not in all of the legal deposit libraries.

Jump forward to 19th September 1807, and publisher Goulding registered 2 Dibdin songs for a show, Bannister’s Budget.  Copies survive in three Copac libraries today.  (If musical theatre is a popular genre today, it’s a case of ‘plus ca change’!)

Bath Assembly RoomsMeanwhile, exactly two hundred years ago yesterday, Bath musician John Charles White registered his piano rondo, The Fairy Queen on 19th September 1817.   There are seemingly three surviving copies in the UK.  However, there could be further copies of any of the aforementioned titles, because not all of the early legal deposit music has been catalogued online.  That’s the intriguing part of this story!

For now, this tiny snapshot of three anniversaries neatly encapsulates the kind of music popular in those decades: typical of their eras, they represent concerts by famous names in Vauxhall Gardens; touch upon the fashion for songs of a military nature during the Napoleonic Wars, the popularity of national songs; and a plethora of piano rondos for the amateur pianist.   Not bad, for a random handful of music entries in the Stationers’ Hall registers!
Vauxhall gardens scene

Today’s the Day! New Network, Claimed From Stationers’ Hall (early copyright music)

This is officially the start of the new AHRC-funded network, Claimed From Stationers Hall.  A fuller blogpost will appear within the next 24 hours.  Have a wander round the website, and please do get in touch if you’d like to be added to the email mailing list.  The topic is the music that was registered at Stationers’ Hall in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries up to 1836, so if you have an interest in music publishing of that era, or indeed anything involving British-published sheet music and its performance, or its documentation whether through conventional bibliographic means or in the context of digital humanities … then we’d love to hear from you!

 music history copyright legal deposit GIF

(Never let a musicologist near a gif! I promise to do better ….)