This blog is coming up to its second birthday! It doesn’t seem that long since I wrote our first anniversary post. While I’ve felt more relaxed about the topics featured, there have still been some distinct threads. Let’s have a look at some of the themes and popular posts over the past year.

Participation

all performers
All the performers (Jonathan Schoeps)

November saw a flurry of posts. It was the culmination of the World War 1 commemorations and two special concerts took place, hosted by local musical organisations. Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra was the force behind one, multi-national extravaganza which was covered in two ‘before’, and ‘after’ posts.

After The Guns Fell Silent

Voices In Concert

The other concert was given by Birmingham Festival Choral Society. I think it’s amazing that the Society was already a longtime fixture in Birmingham’s musical life when World War 1 started. Their performance featured quite different works, but all the music from that month did its job in making us think, remember, and give thanks.

Grant Us Peace!

Poppies in Flanders
Poppies flowering in Flanders

Between them, these three posts garnered 750 views from the UK and beyond.

Music of the people

Volunteers_of_America_Soup_Kitchen_WDC
Volunteers of America soup kitchen ( Photo credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. Public domain)

The twin themes of popular, and folk music have proved very fertile ground for my regular topic searches. I find them fascinating, coming as I do mostly from the Western classical tradition. Certainly, I now know more about the American Great Depression than I ever did. These song books we stock contain a wealth of personal history, and they encapsulate some of the social history and attitudes from the period. 

We spent time with Woody Guthrie,

Hard-hit People: Songs of the American Great Depression

A Time of Trial: More Songs from the American Great Depression

and Cisco Houston.

‘Get Along Little Dogies’ – the music of Cisco Houston

However, the post that sparked most interest was one that looked at industrial folk music from the West Midlands.

Coal pits in the Black Country
An engraving taken from ‘Griffiths’ guide to the iron trade of Great Britain’, publ, 1873

Michael Raven’s work as a local song collector and performer will doubtless mean I’ll be back to his books and scores in the future.

The Jolly Machine – Michael Raven and urban English folk song

My favourite

Der Blumenstrauss
The simple, pretty cover

I’m a sucker for good design and this collection of musical New Year’s greetings drew me in because of that. I love the delicate, watercoloured engravings which introduced many of the songs.

‘Life’s voyage’ and other musical New Year greetings

What’s to follow?

More of the same, I hope. Though it’s about time we revisited our collection of music for use with silent cinema; looking at some of our older material is another possible theme as well.

Whatever delights are featured, I hope you will continue to join us.