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The sound of history

24 January 2012

The sound of history

Substantial collections of unique manuscript and printed music from the 18th and 19th centuries are to be made available to a wider scholarly audience thanks to new funding.

JISC has awarded the University £48,000 to catalogue its rare Welsh-owned collections, along with a collection acquired from the BBC Music Library (London). These collections, which constitute one of the largest music resources outside Oxbridge and London, complement the collection of rare books jointly secured for Wales by the University and the Welsh Government in 2009.

Cardiff's School of Music and the University Library Service, working in partnership with the international music database RISM (UK) and Royal Holloway, University of London, will catalogue the distinctive pieces and make the records openly available to researchers, teachers, performers, other libraries, and those with a general interest in the history of music and performance.

Professor David Wyn Jones, Head of Cardiff School of Music, said: "These collections are a particularly rich historical resource for scholars, teachers and performers of music, but have never before been included in a publicly available catalogue. The JISC funding will allow us to bring more than 2,500 records of rare music research material to the attention of a wider audience for the first time since they were collected."

Janet Peters, Director of University Libraries in the University's Information Services Directorate, added: "The addition of these manuscripts and resources further develops the historical and rare collections held by the University's Special Collections and Archives(SCOLAR). Enabling academics and musicians to access these historical music collections will help to increase our understanding of the role that music has played in society over the ages."

The Mackworth Collection of manuscripts was built up over several generations of the Mackworth family, whose family seat was at Neath's Gnoll Castle, beginning with industrialist Sir Herbert Mackworth (1739-91). Subsequent generations built up the collection, which contains music manuscripts from the 16th to the 18th centuries, together with printed music and books of the same era.

The Aylward Collection, amassed by Theodore Edward Aylward (1844-1933) contains more than 700 items, including a quantity of material on sacred works, songs and singing, dramatic music, and orchestral music. Aylward was cathedral organist at Llandaff, conductor of the Cardiff Musical Society and chorus-master for the Cardiff Triennial Festival.

The BBC Collection of 18th and 19th century printed music, first compiled in the 1950s to serve the needs of producers preparing broadcast material for Radio 3, was acquired from the BBC Music Library (London) to complement material in the Mackworth and Aylward collections.

The project will draw on academic and IT expertise and professional library expertise at Cardiff University, the British Library, Queen's University Belfast, Royal Holloway and the University of Utrecht. The funding will also cover the appointment of two specialist Music Cataloguers, who will be based at Cardiff for six months.

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