On Windrush Day, it is appropriate to revisit a post we wrote a couple of years ago. Filling gaps – diversifying our collections listed our aims to make our sheet music collections more representative of the city around us. That was at the start. Now is a good time to see what progress we’ve made in representing music by Black composers. Continue reading
What better way to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday than with some music?
Rather than rely on Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Arne, Verdi, and all the other classical music uses of Shakespeare themes, I’ve gone looking elsewhere. Another blog, Shakespeare in popular music was very useful in this regard. Although many of the links no longer work (for various reasons), the listings are fascinating. In some cases, the link with Shakespeare is clear; with others, it would need more digging. Continue reading
For this International Women’s Day, let’s focus on female composers. Not all of them – that would take a very long time. Instead, we’re going to take a look at some pioneering women who strove to get their music heard at roughly the time of the suffragist movement. Continue reading
Derek Jarman’s films hold a special place in British queer cinema. Bold, experimental, unapologetic, and always following his own creative vision, they told of diverse lives at a time when those lives were hardly out of the shadows. The partial decriminalisation of homosexuality through The Sexual Offences Act only occurred in 1967. Then, in the 1980s and early 1990s, came the scourge of HIV/Aids and its attendant demonisations, accompanied by Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28 and its partial muzzling of queer expression.
Music plays an important part in Jarman’s work. In this post for LGBTQ History Month, let’s see what’s out there. Continue reading
What to choose? What to buy? There’s a huge amount of sheet music out there. Deciding what to spend our limited budget on can appear a challenge. For this post, we’ll look (in a broad brush way) at how we choose what we do and why.
Along the way, you’ll hopefully spot new composers, new music, new sounds in the making. And maybe give them a listen too. Continue reading
If you think of the Trapp family at all, it’s probably in relation to The Sound of Music, movie or musical. In this post though, we’re looking at something which came from the Trapps’ real life as a singing group in America during the 1940s and 50s.
Wasner: The Trapp family book of Christmas songs (publ. 1950)
The Trapp (or, von Trapp) family spent most of the 1930s based in Austria and touring throughout Europe and the US. Once Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, they fled first to Italy and then to the US, where they stayed. Their local priest in Austria, Franz Wasner, remained the choir’s musical director and is the guiding hand behind our book of carols. Continue reading
As we near the end of Black History Month, I found time to raid our song sheet boxes in search of suitable exhibits. Was the choice overwhelming? No, but there are more examples than I perhaps expected. Let’s see what I uncovered.
A while back, we had a look at a random selection of song sheets from the early 1980s, Back to the (start of the) 80’s . In honour of Birmingham’s Gay Village and their ‘Back to the 80’s night’, here’s another, possibly even more random selection from the first half of the decade. Which songs do you know, or even remember from the first time around?
For all the Music Library mostly stopped buying single song sheets in the 1980’s, we still have an intriguing, though limited selection. Let’s start with this one:
Brian May & Queen Save me (publ. 1980)
The Game was Queen’s eighth studio album and is described either as ‘disco’ influenced, or when they turned towards pop rather than rock. The Wikipedia article quotes some responses to its original release. You’re left wondering whether they’re talking about the same music. Continue reading
If you’re anything like me, Ruth Gipps will be little more than a name. Admittedly as a female composer, she stirs a little more interest than some of other composers of her time. What I didn’t realise is her connection to Birmingham and the CBSO. This month’s BBC Proms concert (see above) which includes her music set me looking.
Let’s explore that connection alongside her music. Continue reading