Followers of this blog will know that you can look at historical piano teaching materials in the libraries that hold legal deposit collections. Nowadays, there are a handful of big national and university libraries in the UK that still receive one copy of everything published, under statutory legislation. But there are other libraries – especially in Scotland – that also received this material, until the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign.
Theodore Latour was pianist to King George IV – Victoria’s uncle. He taught privately and at girls’ schools, played and composed, and also wrote some piano tutor books. As it happens, Emily Bronte had music by Latour in her collection, including one of his books of progressive exercises, although I haven’t examined that particular publication. (Robert K. Wallace mentions it, in his Emily Bronte and Beethoven: Romantic Equilibrium in Fiction and Music.)
It’s possible to find copies of some of Latour’s works online via Google Books, IMSLP or Archive.org, so if you’re interested, we could point you in the right direction.
I have been experimenting with other ways of talking/writing about the Stationers’ Hall Georgian legal deposit music corpus. Here are my Saturday afternoon efforts. Have you tried any such audiovisual presentations in your own research? Do you find them helpful?
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.
Prof. John Donaldson, from the National Galleries of Scotland
Henry Farmer, from the Henry Farmer papers at Glasgow University
Cedric Thorpe Davie
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.
This week’s news is cautiously optimistic. I have the opportunity to speak at a conference in New Zealand if I can secure the funding to get me there! I’ve applied for funding – so watch this spot.
What about the Colonies?
Meanwhile, however, it set me wondering about legal deposit in the colonies in the nineteenth century. This is not something that I’d thought about before. Obviously, early printed music in New Zealand or Australia would generally have come from Europe, whether as new imports, brought by emigrants or sent to them by their families. (See the excellent work being done by Sydney Living Museums in Australia, or – as an example of an early immigrant musician’s life – Michael Kassler’s fascinating paper, ‘The remarkable story of Maria Hinckesman‘, in Musicology Australia (2007). I really don’t know much about the nineteenth century music trade beyond Britain. I seized my copy of Partridge’s The History of the Legal Deposit of Books (1938) for a quick overview, where I learned that New Zealand’s own legal deposit legislation came much later. It would still be nice to know more about the publication of music actually composed there during the 19th century! Has anyone studied this?
You can’t beat a good bibliography
Over the past couple of years, I’ve compiled quite an extensive bibliography covering legal deposit (both at the general and music-specific level), and the nineteenth-century histories of the British legal deposit libraries. I’m sure I haven’t yet listed everything that’s out there, but progress is being made. I’m currently tidying up this listing, then I’ll post it online. What I need more of, are links to finding aids, published or online, outlining what archival information is available for the different libraries. Once I’ve got it into a shape fit for public consumption, I’d love to receive any further suggestions for suitable additions. A student at the University of Edinburgh made a great listing of catalogues, accounts, and borrower loan records (“receipt books” in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century terminology) this summer, and I’ve currently got a copy of it on my desk to peruse closely. Next week, I’m going to consult a couple of resources recommended to me by the National Library of Scotland’s Music Librarian – these will hopefully fill in my knowledge about what’s available there. In this age of the internet, it pays to remember that not everything is online, and it’s invaluable to know about the existence of earlier finding aids that remain in their original print format. I’m quite well clued-up about the resources in St Andrews, and I’ve got several useful links for Sion College’s holdings, now in Lambeth Palace Library. Any further suggestions about other libraries, anyone?!
At various times, official commissions looked into the legal deposit libraries’ handling and curation of the legal deposit materials, and library provision for universities in general. I really do need to capture details of all surviving documentation. Partridge mentions that after the 1814 Copyright Act, returns were requested from the legal deposit libraries (1st July 1817), which resulted in the Return of the Libraries, ordered to be printed by the House of Commons on 6 March and 9 April, 1818 [BM.515 l 20] (Partridge ibid, p.73].* This contains a table of rejected items from Oxford or Cambridge – I have also found an amended return from Cambridge, which has of course been added to the bibliography!
Similarly, from 1826 onwards, there was a Royal Commission investigating library provision to the University Libraries in Scotland. I’ve seen one of the huge tomes emanating from this exercise, regarding the Aberdeen responses, and transcribing interviews with individual professors. Revd. William Paul remembered the sale of some legal deposit music, a couple of decades earlier. Oh, really? This is interesting stuff!!
It’s fair to say that bibliographic control of this material is sometimes slightly inconsistent, but it would appear desirable to track down each Scottish university’s response, and to look at the other responses from St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow!
Guest Blogposts Ahead!
We now have five offers of guest blogposts for this blog, two of them scheduled for the beginning of December. Embracing technology, I’ve set up a Doodle poll for other interested guests. The link has been sent to everyone signed up to the Jisc Music from Stationers’ Hall mailing list. Completing a Doodle poll is simplicity itself, and I’ll get to see any responses to the poll. If you’re on the list, please check your email inbox! (If you’re not on the list, here’s how to sign up! Open Invitation to Join the Conversation)
And More Visits
When I only have one and a half days a week for research, even scheduling visits to all the former legal deposit libraries is just a touch more tricky, but I’m doing my best. Every week, I try to think ahead and start planning another trip, so we’ll see where I end up visiting next! Which reminds me … time to tie up some arrangements …
House of Commons, Extracts of so Much of the Returns Made by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, (pursuant to the Orders of the 1st July 1817 and 20th February Last) as State, Whether Any of the Books Claimed under the Late Copyright Act Have Been Omitted to Be Placed in their Respective Libraries, and how otherwise disposed of. (1818) [Paper no.98. Available via database, UK Parliamentary Papers (ProQuest)]
If Research Days were like Saints’ Days, then my Tuesdays would be Research Day Eves! Normally, I’m busy being a librarian on a Tuesday, but since I have a day’s leave, I can look ahead to what’s in store tomorrow.
Firstly, we’ve had several offers of blogposts, so to help with the planning, I’m contemplating setting up a Doodle-poll (or something similar) so that interested people can commit themselves a bit more definitely, and we get some sense of what’s next. Research Doodle-poll.
I need to set up some more meetings, after last week’s very productive mission to Edinburgh. Quite a few meetings, in fact.
I need to tidy up the rest of my bibliography – or what I’ve got so far – so that I can post it online and share it more widely. I’d love to be notified of any other useful reading that I’ve missed.
Bibliographer to the last, I need to check out the various commissions to examine universities and their libraries, in the Georgian/early Victorian era. I need precise citations for reports for ALL the legal deposit libraries involved in those commissions. Not quite sure how I’ll get round to reading them all, but the first objective is to identify them all. They aren’t always all that easy to trace, and sometimes library copies don’t have title pages – a bit of a setback, you could say!
My apologies that no podcast has happened for a couple of weeks; inspiration hasn’t descended upon me, and at present I’m hoarse, if not speechless. A podcast will happen soon, rest assured. (At least 21st century scholars have more effective cold remedies than our early 19th century forbears!)
I should confess at the outset, that this is a reflective piece, rather than a seriously documented aspect of the legal deposit music research. It outlines what can best be described as a playful attempt to describe the legal deposit process by evoking the imagined sounds of the early nineteenth century. I was contemplating different ways to bring the story alive to an audience unfamiliar with the context of my research. After I’d told the story in what I hoped was an accessible and reasonably lively way, I continued to reflect upon ways of utilising other media to enliven things another time.
I offer you two SoundCloud recordings today, firstly a podcast update, which goes on to outline my experimentation with making a playlist of appropriate sound-effects.
For the purposes of transparency, the individual audio-clips in the Soundscape are listed below, acknowledging the sources and durations. My thanks go to their creators. I particularly thank Alessandro Cesaro and Simone Laghi for uploading their beautiful performances to SoundCloud. They’re wonderful!
Only by listening to the podcasts will you be able to discern why the other audio-clips – all sound effects – were chosen!
Michelle’s Pen on Paper (0:10) / Kate Baker Music
Wrapping Parcel (0:31) / SoundMods
Sound Effect of Door Opening 0:06) / Switcher12
Door Slamming Shut (0:02) / Amy-Jane Wilson 1
Footsteps Sound Effects (0:08 ) / l13hk
Horse on Cobbles at Münster (0:30) / Simon Velo
Boat at Sea (1:58) / Misha Rogov
In Bruges / Clip & Clop (0:30) / Bib-6
Door Open And Close Puerta Abriendo Y Cerrando 2 (0:50) / FX Sounds
Turning Pages (0:05) / Angela Morris
L. Dussek Rosline Castle with variations, piano (5:02) / Alessandro Cesaro
I’m reading a book about research impact at the moment. (We have a copy in the library, but I’ve also got it on Kindle, so I have no excuse not to plough right through it!) I must admit, there are moments when I metaphorically kick myself under the table, because some of the advice is basically common sense. But, if it’s common sense, why didn’t I think of it? So it’s a good idea to get reminded of the obvious things whilst simultaneously getting plenty of fresh ideas, and just generally making sure that impact is built into this research network right from the very start.
So, here are the first questions, quoted directly from my new guru (Mark S. Reed, author of the Research Impact Handbook, pp.72-73):-
“What aspects of [our] research might be interesting or useful to someone?…”
“Could [our] research help address these needs [ie, issues, policy areas … trends]?”
Can our research help remove barriers that are currently inhibiting these areas?
If we know who might benefit from our research, can we identify “what aspects of [our] research they are likely to be most interested in?” Could we make it even more relevant?
So, what changes could our research effect?
And do we know who would benefit and who we should guard against disadvantaging?
Please don’t leave these questions hanging in the air! I’m looking for answers, and I’m keen to engage with other researchers interested in similar issues in this curious world where musicology, book history and library history meet with legal deposit on the one hand, and individual music-makers on the other. Do share your views!