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Introduction

We have around 100,000 pieces of manuscript music, 1.6 million items of printed music and 2 million music recordings! This blog features news and information about these rich collections. It is written by our music curators, cataloguers and reference staff, with occasional pieces from guest contributors. Read more

10 October 2018

William Byrd, catholic composer

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    William Byrd, one of the most prolific English composers of his time, was born in 1543 (or possibly late in 1542) and died in 1623.

    A devout Roman Catholic, Byrd was also a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal with a secure position at court. Well known among the Catholic nobility, with whom his ties were naturally close, Byrd also enjoyed a wealth of connections across Protestant society, including major cultural figures such as Sir Philip Sidney.

    This post explores Byrd's music for the Roman Rite.

The Masses

R.M.15.d-tileWilliam Byrd. [Mass for three voices] Cantus. London: Thomas East, 1594. Cantus. British Library R.M.15.d.4.

   In 1593 Byrd moved from Harlington in Middlesex, where he had lived since the 1570s, to Stondon Massey in Essex. This was only a few miles from Ingatestone, the seat of his friend Sir John, afterwards Lord, Petre. It was almost certainly for clandestine Mass celebrations at Petre’s house that Byrd composed his three Masses, issued separately without title pages, dedicatees or any indication of the printer (Thomas East), but with Byrd’s name placed courageously at the top of every page. The four-part work was printed (and composed) first, the three-part next (shown above) and the five-part last, all between about 1592 and 1595. Second editions of the three- and four-part Masses appeared about 1600.

Gradualia Book I, 1605

K.2.f.7. dWilliam Byrd. Gradualia, ac Cantiones Sacræ, quinis, quaternis, trinisque vocibus concinnatæ, Lib. Primus
Excudebat Humphrey Lownes. Londini: Impensis Ricardi Redmeri. Superius. 1610.. British Library K.2.f.7.

Byrd followed the publication of his three settings of the Ordinary of the Mass with an even more daring venture. His Gradualia is one of the most comprehensive provisions of Mass Propers and related music for the Roman church’s year ever attempted by a single composer. When the first book appeared in 1605 he evidently felt that the times were less dangerous, for it was printed with a titlepage and a dedication to the Catholic Privy Councillor Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton.

 But the moment proved ill chosen: it was the year of the Gunpowder Plot and anti-Catholic sentiment was rife. Despite having been approved before its publication by Richard Bancroft, Bishop of London and an ecclesiastical censor of books, Byrd’s Gradualia became dangerous currency. The Frenchman Charles de Ligny was arrested merely for having a copy of the ‘papistical books’ in his possession. The image above shows the communion sentence from the Corpus Christi mass and Ave verum corpus, a Eucharistic prayer in the version printed in the Primer, for private devotions.

Gradualia Book II, 1607

K.2.f.6-tileWilliam Byrd. Gradualia: seu cantionum sacrarum quarum aliæ ad quatuor, aliæ verò ad quinque et sex voces editæ sunt.
Liber secundus.
London: Thomas East, assign of William Barley, 1607. Bassus. British Library K.2.f.6.

   Despite the hostility shown to Book I of Gradualia, Byrd went ahead and published Book II in 1607, openly declaring that the music had been composed for use in the house of its dedicatee, Lord Petre. But he may have found it necessary to withdraw both books until 1610, as the sheets were reissued then with new title pages. The partbook of Book I shown here has the substitute title page of 1610, but those of Book II are from the only surviving set with the original 1607 title pages. On the wrapper of the bassus part the unknown first owner has written ‘Mr William Byrd his last Sett of Songs geven me by him Feb. 1607.’

K.2.f.6. a'William Byrd. Gradualia: seu cantionum sacrarum quarum aliæ ad quatuor, aliæ verò ad quinque et sex voces editæ sunt.
Liber secundus.
London: Thomas East, assign of William Barley, 1607. Bassus. British Library K.2.f.6.

Byrd’s handwriting: Certificate concerning an annuity granted to Dorothy Tempest.

   The letter below, a similar copy of which is also in the British Library (Egerton 3722), along with the two signatures to his will are the only known examples of Byrd’s handwriting.

    One of those implicated in the Catholic plot of 1570 in favour of Mary Queen of Scots was Michael Tempest, who was convicted of treason but managed to escape to France entering the service of Philip II. His wife Dorothy and their five children were left without means of support, and Queen Elizabeth granted her an annuity of twenty pounds a year, to be paid quarterly. On 17 October 1581 Byrd wrote to his friend William Petre (son of Sir John, discussed above), an official at the Court of Exchequer, reminding him that a payment was due, at the same time sending the letter below to certify that she was alive and well.

Ms Mus 1810 Byrd cWilliam Byrd. Autograph certificate on behalf of Dorothy Tempest, 25/6/1581. British Library Ms Mus. 1810

02 October 2018

Welcome to Discovering Music

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    The British Library has the pleasure of bringing you an exciting free educational resource providing unparalleled access to our music collection: Discovering Music.

   Aimed at A level students, teachers, undergraduates and the general public, the site features manuscript and printed sources as well as recordings to support the study of particular music topics. The site also sheds light on the historical, political and cultural contexts in which key musical works were composed and musicians operated.

MS. Mus. 1810 - Debussy - f01r - Article 3Claude Debussy (1911) 'Brouillards', from Préludes, Book 2 British Library Shelfmark MS Mus. 1810

The first stage focuses on music from the early 20th century, while other periods will be explored in the future. This present web space highlights some of the Library’s most treasured collection items, in high-resolution digitised images, including manuscripts by Benjamin Britten, Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frederick Delius, Gustav Holst, Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and others. In addition, the site features a rich range of contextual material, including letters, notebooks, illustrations, newspapers, photographs and other forms of ephemera. 

You can explore this exciting web space from different angles: Themes, Collection items, Works and People. These gravitate around the centrepiece of Discovering Music, an exciting series of articles:

BThe Second Viennese School: Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern
Mark Berry introduces the three composers labelled as key members of the ‘Second Viennese School’, each influential in his own way on musical modernism throughout the remainder of the 20th century.

Music and the creative process: Elgar’s Third Symphony
The composer Anthony Payne, who completed Elgar’s unfinished Third Symphony, describes Elgar’s compositional methods as seen in the surviving sketches for this work at the British Library.

Delius in performance
Joanna Bullivant explores how Delius’s compositions were brought to life by various interpreters. Did he give his performers enough information? How important are the contributions made by the famous musicians with whom he worked: the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, the pianists Theodor Szántó and Evlyn Howard-Jones, and the violinist May Harrison?

Folksong revival in the early 20th century
Eric Saylor surveys the social contexts and musical impact of the folksong revival in the early 20th century.

Ballet in Paris in the early 20th century
Jane Pritchard discusses the ballet companies and their artists who were active in Paris in the early 20th century.

BBritish composers in the early 20th century
Jeremy Dibble gives an overview of British composers in the early 20th century and their context.

Delius, Paris, Grez
Lionel Carley explores Delius’s long association with France, and how the distinctive landscapes of Paris and Grez-sur-Loing inspired some of his most famous scores.

Exploring Elgar's 'Enigma' Variations
Julian Rushton discusses the early history of Elgar’s ‘Enigma’ Variations.

The use of the instruments of the orchestra
Lucy Walker surveys three orchestral masterpieces of the early 20th century.

Music and the First World War
Kate Kennedy examines the impact of the First World War on British composers and the music composed both during the war and in its aftermath.

Music and the Holocaust
Stephen Muir examines the impact of the Holocaust on musicians and musical life in Germany and Austria in the Second World War.

SkMusic for film: Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten
Music formed an important component of the propaganda and educational films produced during the Second World War and its immediate aftermath. In this article, Nicholas Clark explores the film scores composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten between 1940 and 1948.

Music and the Russian Revolution
Pauline Fairclough discusses the impact of the Russian Revolution on Russian composers’ lives and careers.

Delius and America
Daniel M. Grimley explains the significance of America in Delius's life, music, and career.

Stravinsky and Neoclassicism
Stephen Walsh discusses Neoclassicism as a concept focussing on the music of Stravinsky who extensively used this compositional ‘attitude’ in his music.

The Society of Women Musicians
Sophie Fuller discusses the history of the Society of Women Musicians and some of its leading members.

Delius's workshop
Daniel M. Grimley examines Delius's compositional routine and looks at the processes involved in assembling a large-scale musical work.

Tonality in crisis? How harmony changed in the 20th century
Arnold Whittall explores changing approaches to harmony and the concept of tonality in early 20th-century music.

Vaughan Williams and The English Hymnal
Simon Wright explores the role of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams in selecting and arranging the music for The English Hymnal.

Teaching resources

These 19 articles are accompanied by three teaching resources to support the study of 20th-century classical music at GCSE and A Level.

Composition: learning from Delius and Elgar
Use Delius's and Elgar's sketches to develop compositional skills and understand their music.

Music and place: sacred music and folksong
Learn how English composers were inspired by folksong and ideas of the sacred.

Overturning tonality: into the 20th century
Explore new ways of composing in the early 20th century

 

26 September 2018

New Digitised Music Manuscripts

Add MS 37767  - Ludwig van Beethoven, Original draft of Violin Sonata No. 8 in G major, Op. 30 No. 3 (1802)
 Original draft of the violin and pianoforte sonata in G, in score, 'da Louis van Beethoven'; originally published by the Bureau d'Arts et d'Industrie at Vienna, in 1803, as Op. 30, no. 3, and dedicated to Alexander I, Emperor of Russia. 
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_37767 
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Add MS 41629 - Perabo collection Vol II (1735-1872)
Johann Sebastian Bach - 1st Oboe part of the Cantata 'Herr Gott dich loben alle wir'
Franz Schubert - Fragment (bars 56 to the end) of the song 'Die Sehnsucht'
Robert Schumann - Piano arrangement of the Overture of Genoveva (op. 81) 
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_41629
Add_ms_41629_f002r

 Add MS 41632  - Franz Schubert,  Mass in B op. 141 (1815)
 Mass in B (op. 141) for soloists, 4-part chorus and orchestra, with figured bass, in score, by Franz Peter Schubert. Autograph, except for the title-page with dedication to Joseph Spendou. The 'Kyrie' is dated 11 Nov. 1815 (f. 1), the 'Gloria' 6 Dec. 1815 (f. 9) with the composer's signature. First published posthumously in 1838 by Tobias Haslinger 
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_41632
Add_ms_41632_f013ar
 Add MS 47852 - Ludwig van Beethoven, Autograph Music (1809)
 Fragment cut from the top of one leaf, containing miscellaneous sketches.
 Lied Aus Ferne WoO 137
 Sketch of Der Liebende, WoO 139
    Digital Version:  http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_47852
Add_ms_47852_f005r

 Add MS 58437 - Thomas Attwood, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Exercises in theory and composition (1785-1787)
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_58437Add_ms_58437_f013v

 Add MS 64931-64942 - Joseph Haydn - The London Symphonies (1791-1795)
 Autograph full scores of Symphonies nos. 95 and 96 by Joseph Haydn, with copies of the full scores of nos. 93, 94 and 97-104; 1791, and before Aug. 1795. The copies, in two hands, were evidently made directly from the autograph scores, and so before Haydn left London on 15 Aug. 1795. The complete set belonged first to Johann Peter Salomon, then passed to his musical executor, William Ayrton, from whom it was purchased by the Philharmonic Society of London in 1847
Add MS 64931 - Vol. I. Symphony no 97 (Copy)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64931 
Add MS 64932 - Vol. I. Symphony no 93 (Copy)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64932 
Add MS 64933 - Vol. I. Symphony no 94 (Copy)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64933 
Add MS 64934 - Vol. II. Symphony no 98 (Copy)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64934
Add MS 64935 - Vol. II. Symphony no 95 (Autograph)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64935 
Add MS 64936 Vol. II. Symphony no 96 (Autograph)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64936 
Add MS 64937 - Vol. III. Symphony no 104 (Copy)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64937 
Add MS 64938 - Vol. III. Symphony no 103 (Copy)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64938
Add MS 64939 - Vol. III. Symphony no 102 (Copy)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64939
Add MS 64940 - Vol. IV. Symphony no 99 (Copy)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64940
Add MS 64941 - Vol. IV. Symphony no 101 (Copy)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64941 
Add MS 64942 - Vol. IV. Symphony no 100 (Copy)
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_64942

Add_ms_64935_f001v

 
R.M.18.c.2 - George Frideric Handel, Miscellaneous collections and selections vol. II copy 
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=R.M.18.c.2R.m.18.c.2_f001r

08 August 2018

2 Cats 1 Piano

Today is International Cat Day, a special day created in 2002 on the initiative of the International Fund for Animal Welfare to encourage both cat owners and feline enthusiasts to celebrate and take care of them.

Today is then a most excellent occasion to honour some great felines from our music collections!

ABerthold, G. Duetto for [two cats] with an Accompaniment for the Piano Forte. London : Ewer & Johanning, 1825. British Library Shelfmark G.806.j.(14.) 

In 1825 London firm Ewer & Johanning published the above ‘Duetto for two cats’. The curious piece is signed by a ‘G. Berthold’, however this is but a pseudonym. It was initially attributed to the great Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, who had just been in London and whose music is quoted in the duet.

Remarkably, the piece is still very much part of the repertoire, often under the later title of ‘Duo Buffo di due gatti’. The duet lends itself to be performed by any combination of voices and it’s been recorded by renowned singers like Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry, among others.

DBerthold, G. Duetto for [two cats] with an Accompaniment for the Piano Forte. London : Ewer & Johanning, 1825. G.806.j.(14.)

There is speculation that the mysterious G. Berthold was in fact Robert Lucas Pearsall, a British composer who was a founder of the Bristol Madrigal Society.

Edgar Hunt writes that when Pearsall moved from Germany to Switzerland, the manuscript of a certain ‘Cat Duet’ was included in a list of manuscripts he took along with him. Another clue is found on Pearsall’s unpublished ballet ‘Die Nacht eines Schwarmers’, which contains a duet between two dancers dressed as cats whose music resembles the mysterious Berthold’s cat duet above. Was this a jibe on Rossini’s style?

Whoever the composer may be, the arrangement combines two duets from the second act of Rossini’s ‘Otello’ and the ‘Katte-Cavatine’ by Danish composer Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse.

C-vertAbove: Berthold, G. Duetto for [two cats] with an Accompaniment for the Piano Forte. London : Ewer & Johanning, 1825. BL: G.806.j.(14.)
Below: Weyse, C.E.F. Katte-Cavatine. Copenhagen : C. C. Lose & Delbanco, 1852, 60. BL: G.630.

Cats have of course being represented and evoked throughout the history of music. If we go back to 1790, Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in sol minore K. 30 (L. 499) was published in London, along with thirty other pieces by the Italian composer. The sonata achieved posthumous fame with the name ‘Fuga del Gatto’ (Cat’s Fugue). According to legend Scarlatti had a cat named Pulcinella who, as cats have always done, walked over his keyboard "unintentionally" playing the musical motif of the Sonata. Scarlatti immediately wrote it down and developed the whole piece from these random notes.

Sca1-horzScarlatti, Domenico. Essercizi per Gravicembalo. London 1739. BL: K.5.c.8. 

Also from 1790 dates the Singspiel ‘Der Stein der Weisen’. The libretto was penned by Emanuel Schikaneder, who also wrote the libretto for the Magic Flute the following year. The music was a collaboration between Franz Xaver Gerl, Johann Baptist Henneberg, Benedikt Schack and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The extent of each composer’s involvement in the music is contested, however Mozart is often attributed to have written the comic duet ‘Nun liebes Weibchen’ which takes place at the end of Act II.

Characters Lubano and Lubanara realise that the latter has been cursed and can only meow like a cat. Lubano is at first not aware of the enchantment and he angrily reproaches Lubanara for her infidelities. He eventually recognises she is under a spell and together they meow a way out of their situation.

Mozart a-vertMozart, W. A. Nun liebes Weibchen Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1881. BL: H.698./6 

This short cat purrade has unfortunately run out of time. Even though we have had to exclude a few other musical kitties, we couldn’t leave this one out...

31 July 2018

More music materials on our manuscripts website

The summer holidays are upon us, but we are as always hard at work. We have a few more Music Manuscripts from our collection which have been digitised by The British Library's Imaging Studio so we could upload them to our website and make them accessible to all. 

  

Egerton MS 2795 - Ludwig van Beethoven, Portion of a musical sketch-book (c 1825)
This is a small pocket sketchbook of the kind that Beethoven carried around on his sorties into the countryside and taverns around Vienna. Egerton dates from the summer of 1825 and transmits studies for the Quartet in B flat, Op 130.
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Egerton_MS_2795

Egerton_ms_2795_f001r

 Add MS 38068 -  Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude and Fugue in G : no. 15 from "Das Wohltemperirte Clavier," part ii (c.1744)
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_38068 
Add_ms_38068_f022r


R.M.18.a.1 - Sir George Job Elvey, The Rolling Year (1850)
Birthday cantata for Queen Victoria for solo voices, chorus and full orchestra, in score. With a separate extra copy of the words on a leaflet.
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=R.M.18.a.1

R.m.18.a.1_fir

Add MS 41866 - Johannes Brahms, Rhapsody in E♭ major op. 119, no. 4 (1893)
Written at Bad Ischl at the end of June 1893. This manuscript differs in a few places from the first published edition by Simrock also in 1893.
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_41866 

Add_ms_41866_f001r

Egerton MS 2335 - Joseph Haydn, Symphonies nos. 47 and 48 (c.1784)
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Egerton_MS_2335 

Egerton_ms_2335_f008v

 Add MS 53777 - Sir Arthur Sullivan, Patience (1881)
After opening at the Opera Comique in April 1881, Patience moved in October to the brand-new Savoy Theater, just off the Strand, and inaugurated the first theater with electric lighting.
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_53777 
Add_ms_53777

Add MS 38069 - Miscellaneous
George Frideric Handel, Italian cantata,: 18th cent.
Joseph Haydn, 6 English Canzonettas, Hob.XXVIa:25-30 Title page signed 1791.
Charles-Simon Catel, "Quatuor énigmatique": 1811.
Ludwig van Beethoven, Canon: 1825
Wilhelm Richard Wagner,  1st violin part of overture "Polonia" 1833
George William Chard, Hymn: 19th cent. 
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS 38069

Add_ms_38069_f001v

 Add MS 41631 - Ludwig van Beethoven, Three Early Piano Sonatas, WoO 47 (1783)
   Beethoven's own copy of his three early pianoforte sonatas in Eb, F minor and D, with annotations by the young composer.
     Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_41631 

Add_ms_41631_f005r

21 July 2018

Tracing Mozart's London influences at the British Library

Ian Page, conductor and artistic director of Classical Opera and The Mozartists, recalls his exploration of dozens of scores in the British Library as part of his research for the recently released 2-CD recording, ‘Mozart in London’

Ian Page (c) Sheila Rock detailIan Page (Photo: Sheila Rock)

For a London-based company devoted to performing the music of Mozart and his contemporaries, it is a tidy and convenient coincidence that Mozart began his composing career in earnest here in the English capital.

In August 1764, four months after Mozart and his family had arrived in London, Wolfgang’s father Leopold had fallen ill and been advised to withdraw with his family to the purer air and rolling countryside of Chelsea (!). Leopold remained bed-ridden for a few weeks, and to facilitate his recovery both Wolfgang and his sister were forbidden from playing music or making any other noise. I like to think that it was as a direct result of this stipulation that the then eight-year-old Mozart sat down in silence to pen his first symphony.

Mozart composed a handful of works during his 15-month stay in London. Three symphonies and his first concert aria, “Va dal furor portata”, all feature on our new recording, and he also wrote a set of six sonatas dedicated to Queen Charlotte and a miniature motet, “God is our refuge”, which he presented as a gift to the British Museum following his visit there in July 1765.

3.Z GOD IS OUR REFUGEMozart, Wolfgang Amadeus.: ‘God is our Refuge’, K. 20; 1765 (detail). British Library Shelfmark K.10.a.17.(3) 

These works have all been recorded before, and are familiar to the more ardent and inquisitive of Mozart-lovers. Our ‘Mozart in London’ festival, however, which was one of the flagship projects in the first year of our ongoing MOZART 250 series, sought to explore the music that the young Mozart might have heard during his extended visit to London, and our 2-CD set features live recordings originally taken from the concerts which comprised this festival. All the information that I needed in order to put this programme together proved to be readily available at the British Library, and I was amazed that nobody had previously explored this wealth of forgotten music, much of which would have had a formative influence on the young Mozart. The recording includes over a dozen pieces that had never been recorded before.

We are lucky that people of the 18th century were such fastidious chroniclers, and we know exactly which operas were performed at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket (in Italian) and at the Theatres Royal at Covent Garden and Drury Lane (in English) during Mozart’s stay. Furthermore, although Johann Christian Bach’s Adriano in Siria (premièred at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket on 26 January 1765, the day before Mozart’s ninth birthday) is the only score to have survived complete, many of these operas had selections of ‘Favourite Airs’ published, and copies of these can be found in the British library collection.

BL_Scan_0002_1Bach, Johann Christian (1765). The Favourite Songs in the Opera Adriano in Siria. British Library Shelfmark R.M.13.c.19.(8.)

 I spent many hours ploughing through these volumes, and ended up with over 250 arias or duets to choose from. Less than half of these, perhaps, were deserving of resurrection, but I was astonished by how good much of this music was, and how clearly it paved the way for Mozart’s own musical language. On one level a figure of Mozart’s magnitude is best regarded as a unique and timeless genius, but he was also very much a product of his own age and experiences. Mozart’s father is frustratingly reticent in his letters about what music they heard in London – he is more concerned with complaining about the weather and the beer – but the deeper I delved the more apparent it felt that Mozart must have been familiar with a lot of this surviving music. During this process I discovered charming and beautiful music by composers I had previously not even heard of – the likes of Giovanni Pescetti, Davide Perez, George Rush and William Bates – and it only added to the excitement that much of this repertoire had not been performed since time of its composition. I have never been more grateful for my British Library Reader’s Card.

Mozart in London was released on Signum Classics on 4 May 2018, and has been selected as Recording of the Month and Editor’s Choice for Gramophone magazine, Record of the Month for Limelight magazine, Disc of the Week for Classic FM Holland and Editor’s Choice for Presto Classical.

10 July 2018

Chopin First Editions available online

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Chopin par Delacroix Eugène Delacroix (ca 1838)  Portrait de Frédéric Chopin, compositeur. Louvre Museum R.F1717

 As part to our commitment to bring our collections to everyone, we have digitised over sixty first editions of piano music by Frédéric Chopin, which are now available online.

As is the case with most composers, first editions of Chopin’s music are important to study the text of a given piece. Chopin would often add expression marks to the printing proofs, marks which weren't in the manuscripts provided to the publisher. Sometimes these additions were so numerous that a second proof had to be prepared for Chopin to approve for publication. In these cases they reveal a more advanced compositional state than the autograph manuscripts.

You may download a spreadsheet with the complete list by clicking here. The links on the right hand side will take you to the corresponding catalogue record. To view the score click on the "I want this" tab, and then on the red “GO” button next to "Digital Content, Collection Item". This newly digitised set will no doubt be a welcomed complement to the Chopin Online Resources, which includes other first editions from our collections.

19 June 2018

More Digitised Music Manuscripts available online

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 We have the pleasure of bringing you some more highlights from our collection which we have digitised in high resolution and uploaded onto our website so anyone can enjoy them remotely.
 All the below are autograph, unless noted.

Egerton MS 2954Musical treatises (15th century)
Italian Musical Treatise by Johannes de Muris
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Egerton_MS_2954 
Egerton_ms_2954_f014v

Add MS 36738 - Franz Schubert, Piano Sonata in G major D. 894, Op. 78 (1826)
Published as the Fantasy, Andante, Menuetto and Allegretto, is the eighteenth sonata of Franz Schubert composed in October 1826.
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_36738
Add_36738_f011r
Lansdowne MS 763 - Musical treatises (15th century)
Treatises transcribed, and probably to a great extent compiled, by John Wylde, precentor of Waltham Holy Cross Abbey, about 1460.
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Lansdowne_MS_763 
Lansdowne_ms_763_f017r

R.M.19.d.9 - George Frideric Handel,  Il Trionfo del Tempo HWV 46a (c 1710)
Manuscript copy, except for the Overture on ff. 69-78, and the corrections which are in the hand of Handel.
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=R.M.19.d.9R.m.19.d.9_f070r

Add MS 47849 - Joseph Haydn, Symphony no. 40 in F major (1763)
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_47849 
Add_ms_47849_f001r

Egerton MS 2327 - Ludwig van Beethoven, Rough copies of twelve airs for pianoforte, with accompaniment for flute or violin (c. 1817)
These are connected with his arrangements of English, Scotch, Welsh, and Irish airs. They were all published in Sechs variirte Themen (op. 105) and Zehn variirte Themen (op. 107), about the year 1817. From op. 107 are taken nos. 1-4 (nos. 9, 10, 2, 8, respectively), no. 9 (no. 4), and nos. 11, 12 (nos. 1, 5); and from op. 105, nos. 5-8 (nos. 1, 2, 4, 5), and no. 10 (no. 6).
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Egerton_MS_2327
Egerton_ms_2327_f002r

Egerton MS 2746 - Miscellaneous, including:
Robert Schumann, March in G minor, op. 76/2 
Richard Wagner, Sketch of the people's chorus (melody and bass only) from Act ii of 'Rienzi' (1839)
Richard Wagner, Largo maestoso (introductory movement) and Allegro con brio (beginning only), in C, for 4 hands
Draft of a letter, apparently by Richard Wagner, but unsigned
    Digital Version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Egerton_MS_2746
Egerton_ms_2746_f004r