In Tune with Michael Bublé?

Bublé

One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked about the ‘In Tune’ exhibition is: ‘Why Michael Bublé?’

The simple answer is that we received the printed score of Michael Bublé’s latest album ‘To be loved’ through legal deposit in July last year, and because of its high profile at the time it was an obvious choice to illustrate the range of our music collections. The earliest item in the exhibition is the ‘Canterbury Pontifical’, a liturgical manuscript believed to date from the last decade of the 11th century. The inclusion of a popular item from the second decade of the 21st century therefore justifies the exhibition’s claim to represent ‘a millennium of music in Trinity College Library’.

The question implies that somehow Michael Bublé doesn’t quite belong in the display. The item is included in the section headed ‘Collection Expansion’, which deals with two key developments in the growth of our music collections: the purchase of Ebenezer Prout’s music library in 1910, and the application of the legal deposit provision to music scores.

Though the Library was entitled to claim printed music under the legal deposit privilege since 1801, it actively declined to do so until the last decades of the nineteenth century. After this policy was reversed, large quantities of sheet music were received, much of it popular in nature. Whatever judgements are made about its musical merit, the value of this material is now recognised for what it reveals about the social attitudes, political concerns and popular tastes of its time. Many of the covers also show changes in how popular musicians are perceived: the performer associated with the work is often given much greater prominence than the composer.

In Tune, sponsored by KBC Bank, runs until 1 April 2014.The exhibition is also available online. Full details of the accompanying lecture and concert series are available here.

Roy Stanley – Music Librarian

Words and Music

Concert programmes are often regarded as ephemeral publications, intended to guide the listener through a particular performance and to be discarded afterwards. However, there is a growing realisation that concert programmes can contain valuable evidence of concert activity, performance trends and the reception of musical repertoire.  In recent years a database of concert programme collections in the UK and Ireland has been developed: the Concert Programmes Project.

The ‘In Tune’ exhibition includes several word-books from performances in 18th century Dublin, the most famous of which is the word-book published by George Faulkner in 1742 for the first performance of Handel’s Messiah. Also included is a book published in 1741 containing libretti for vocal repertoire regularly performed by the Philharmonic Society, Dublin, often in aid of Mercer’s Hospital. This item, acquired in the 1890s by Ebenezer Prout, complements the Mercer’s Hospital collection of manuscript and printed part-books (one of which is also on display).

George Frideric Handel: Messiah word-book (Dublin: George Faulkner, 1742)  Shelfmark: OLS 198.t.70 no.8
George Frideric Handel: Messiah word-book (Dublin: George Faulkner, 1742)
Shelfmark: OLS L-6-605 no.8
Te Deum, Jubilate, anthems, odes ... (Dublin, 1741) Shelfmark: 109.u.151
Te Deum, Jubilate, anthems, odes oratorios and serenatas … (Dublin, 1741) Shelfmark: 109.u.151

 

Perhaps the most interesting item in this group is the word-book published for the performance of ‘The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus’ at Dublin Castle on 6 February 1711. This birthday ode in honour of Queen Anne, composed by John Sigismond Cousser, is one of a series of such works by Cousser and several of his successors as Master of the State Music.

John Sigismond Cousser: The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus (Dublin, 1711) Shelfmark: P.hh.16 no.1
John Sigismond Cousser: The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus (Dublin, 1711) Shelfmark: P.hh.16 no.1

In almost all cases the music for these odes is lost, so the word-books, several of which are preserved in TCD’s collections, provide the only remaining evidence of their content. Uniquely, the music for the 1711 ode does survive (in the collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford), so this single work could still be performed.

In Tune, sponsored by KBC Bank, runs until 1 April 2014.The exhibition is also available online. Full details of the accompanying lecture and concert series are available here.

-Roy Stanley, Music Librarian.

Mahaffy and Music

MS2387_vi

John Pentland Mahaffy is renowned as one of the more colourful characters in the history of Trinity College Dublin. A classicist who ended his career as Provost (1914-1919), his interest in music is less well known but had considerable beneficial impact on the development of the Library’s music collections.

Gall V 9 40

When Sir Robert Prescott Stewart died in 1894 it was Mahaffy who proposed to the Board that Ebenezer Prout should succeed him as Professor of Music, submitting several of Prout’s books on music theory as testimonials. Prout held the post until his death in December 1909, and in his will stipulated that Trinity College should be given the option of purchasing his extensive music library “at a reasonable price”. Prout had valued the collection at £1000, but Mahaffy on behalf of the College agreed to buy it for half that amount. He raised over £300 from friends for the purpose, and the Board supplied the remainder. The Bursar paid a further £60 out of College funds for a new bookcase to house the collection: this was placed down the centre of the Long Room where it remained until the 1960s, when the collection was transferred to the Berkeley Library basement and the bookcase was removed to the basement of Townley Hall.

Prout M 45

This was Mahaffy’s most important contribution to the Library’s music holdings, but it was not the first. In June 1903 he had paid 30 shillings for the manuscript of ‘Caractacus’ by the Earl of Mornington, written in 1764, the year of Mornington’s appointment as the first Professor of Music. The manuscript is currently on display in the ‘In Tune’ exhibition.

Mahaffy may also have had a hand in the deposit of James Goodman’s collection of folk tunes in 1897. When the Irish folk music scholar Donal O’Sullivan attempted to consult the Goodman collection in the 1940s he discovered that the terms of the deposit stipulated that the volumes could only be seen in the presence of Professor Mahaffy. As Mahaffy had died in 1919, it was found necessary to make contact with Goodman’s grandson, who formally presented the manuscripts to the College in September 1944.

In Tune, sponsored by KBC Bank, runs until April 2014.The exhibition is also available online.Full details of the accompanying lecture series are available here.

Roy Stanley

Music Librarian

You can listen to an interview with Roy Stanley about the In Tune exhibition on the Arena show on RTE Radio 1 14 January 2014. The interview begins at 23.30.