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The Music of Time

Guitar guideThe School of Music and Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) in Information Services are working together to bring Cardiff’s rare and historical music collections to a wider audience.

The specialist music collections held by Cardiff University, including the Mackworth Collection (dating from the 18th century), the Aylward Collection (from the 19th century) and a BBC Collection (formed in the 20th century), make up one of the largest music resources within UK Higher Education. They are a valuable research resource but, until recently, had only ever been partially catalogued and were not widely known.

Complementary expertise within the School of Music, SCOLAR,  and Library Cataloguing staff, along with existing good working relationships with the British Library, led to the successful award of JISC funding last year to catalogue the collections. The project is working in partnership with the international music database RISM (UK), the British Library and Royal Holloway, University of London, to make records of more than 2,500 items of rare music material available to a wider audience.

Professor David Wyn Jones, Head of the School of Music, said: “What worked really well in this project was the two-way flow of scholarly expertise and library expertise between the School and SCOLAR. Tapping into this expertise is allowing us to make the most of what is an extremely valuable resource, not just for musicologists but for historians, performers and others.
“Much of the material held within the collections has resonance beyond the immediate musical texts. They’re a part of social and cultural history and reflect much about the context and ethos of their time.”

Peter Keelan, Head of SCOLAR, added: “These collections are a very important resource, not only for the individual items, but for the way they have been assembled by musical families. The pieces in the collections have been preserved as they were when they were last used, complete with the funeral musicannotations of former owners, and many of their personal bookplates – these details can tell us much more about the history of the volume, to complement the printed music itself.

“This material is already instigating further research through the annual Rare Books lecture series, and regular SCOLAR workshops – I think this is only going to increase as more is discovered about these unique collections.”

Earlier this year, the Cardiff University Chamber Choir and Orchestra performed one of the items from the Aylward Collection at Llandaff Cathedral, where Theodore Aylward was himself Cathedral Organist.  Handel’s Funeral Music for Queen Caroline was a piece specially commissioned to be sung at the funeral of Queen Caroline in 1714.

The Cardiff Universiy Chamber Choir will also perform extracts from Funeral Music for Queen Caroline at the School's upcoming free event Stages of Death: Men, Women and Suffering in Opera and Ballet.

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