In Concert

Get a flavour of the music collections of the Library of Birmingham – quirky, practical, historical, contemporary

Enriching your musical learning — October 6, 2021

Enriching your musical learning

If you’re studying to be a musician or singer, it can be easy to focus only on your course requirements. Studying for exams, building up repertoire, or an apparent lack of time can all lead to a narrowing of your musical horizons.

The Library of Birmingham’s Music Library can help you explore further afield. With many thousands of scores, books on music, and performance sets, the Music Library is one of the largest local authority music libraries in the UK. We are now fully reopened and eager to welcome new and existing customers. Joining Birmingham Libraries is free and easy to do, and many services are free of charge.

Come with us on a short tour of the Music Library and discover what we have to offer you. Continue reading

Back to the (start of the) 80’s again — August 25, 2021

Back to the (start of the) 80’s again

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)

Queen - Save me
Queen – Save me

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

Made in Birmingham 4 – Ruth Gipps — August 4, 2021

Made in Birmingham 4 – Ruth Gipps

CBSO concert from the Proms listing
CBSO concert from the BBC Proms listing

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

Lucille Corcos – illustrating the Savoy operas — July 7, 2021

Lucille Corcos – illustrating the Savoy operas

Not for the first time, a chance encounter with an item from our stock sparked the idea for this post.

A colleague approached, carrying a large, battered, evidently fairly elderly book. “What d’you think about this?” A hint of excitement in her voice warned me everything wasn’t quite as it appeared. It didn’t take me long to find out why. Join us in discovering Lucille Corcos, her art, and her love for the Savoy operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Continue reading

More than ‘Hiawatha’- exploring the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor — May 12, 2021

More than ‘Hiawatha’- exploring the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Over the past few years, the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor has been reassessed. A lot of it has effectively been rediscovered with numerous online performances greatly assisting those who want to explore more about this composer and his legacy.

Through the prism of some equally unknown scores, join us on a brief tour and see what you think.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, 1875-1912 

508px-Samuel_Coleridge-Taylor,_photographed_by_Henry_John_Kempsell_
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor photographed in 1901. (National Archives via Wikipedia)

Throughout his all-too-short adult life, Coleridge-Taylor made an impression as a composer. In 1898, Edward Elgar described him as

far and away the cleverest fellow amongst the young men.

This is all the more impressive when you think of the prejudice and barriers a mixed-race young man must have faced in late Victorian and Edwardian England. Continue reading

A multitude of voices — March 10, 2021

A multitude of voices

Women composers have always had a raw deal in classical music. No more so than when it comes to having their compositions published. It’s no surprise then that a glorious array of choral music by female composers only made it to publication by resorting to crowdfunding. This Women’s History Month, let’s have a listen to (and learn about) some of the music included there.

Multitude of Voyces

logo
Website logo for Multitude of Voyces

Multitude of Voyces is a registered not-for-profit Community Interest Company set up by Louise Stewart. She and her husband, Andrew, volunteer their time and expertise as do many of the other people listed. That they’ve succeeded in publishing over 60 works by female composers (most not seen before) is astonishing. Continue reading

Musically Wilde — February 18, 2021

Musically Wilde

It’s LGBTQ history month here in the UK. Last year, we looked at Music and W.H. Auden – a taster. This time, how musicians have responded to Oscar Wilde and his writings is our subject. 

Wilde was a poet, playwright, and author. He is also a queer icon. A man who dared to live his own life in fin de siecle Victorian London. That he did so from a place of privilege was no protection when he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ and sentenced to hard labour in prison.

Wilde’s output ranged across a wide arena. If you know him only for society comedies such as Lady Windermere’s Fan, you may not know the children’s fables, poetry, or the decadence of The Picture of Dorian Gray. There’s also his writing from the period when his life fell apart.

Apart from the operatic reworking of his play, Salomé, I had no idea which of Wilde’s works might have made it into music. Here’s a selection of what I found. Continue reading

Time to try something new? — January 26, 2021

Time to try something new?

January is the classic time for change. Time to experiment and stretch the new you. Maybe though, we’ve had enough change over the last twelve months to last several decades. 

Whichever camp you fall into, spare a few minutes to explore with us some of the more unusual tuition books we stock. Online lessons are useful but if you’re trying to access them via a phone, you may find extra help from books welcome. Maybe you’ve tried the guitar or piano before. How about these instead? Continue reading

Made in Birmingham 3 – the music of Albert Ketèlbey — January 7, 2021

Made in Birmingham 3 – the music of Albert Ketèlbey

Albert Ketèlbey was a phenomenally successful, Birmingham-born composer of the inter-war years of the twentieth century. Yet nowadays, his music is little known, only rarely getting live performances or broadcast time.

Albert Ketèlbey (1875 – 1959)

Albert Ketelbey
Ketelbey with a quote from ‘In a Persian market’.

Ketèlbey was something of a musical prodigy, joining the Birmingham and Midland Institute School of music (now the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire ) aged eleven. Then he took up a place at London’s Trinity College of Music at the age of thirteen, entering the college at the same time as Gustav Holst. Studying composition and piano, Ketèlbey was a successful student, but on graduation he didn’t take quite the career path we might now expect.

Continue reading

Christmas post — December 15, 2020

Christmas post

Most of us have spent a lot of life online recently. At this time of year, I’ll look forward to getting Christmas cards through the post more than ever. It’s hard to make a display of e-cards and decorative emails – receiving the real physical thing makes such a difference. In this post, I’ll be looking at one of our Victorian songs celebrating  the postal service, and then sampling some of the Victorian Christmas cards which are part of the collections here in Birmingham.

Continue reading

The Book Rotunda

Exploring and sharing a world of information, books, resources, history and learning from the Library of Birmingham

Words & Music - Children's & Music Library at the Library of Birmingham

A blog by Children's and Music at the Library of Birmingham

VAN Magazine

Get a flavour of the music collections of the Library of Birmingham - quirky, practical, historical, contemporary

Trinity College Library, Cambridge

Treasures from the Collection

Kevin McBrien

Musicologist - Writer - Editor - Speaker

IAML (UK & Irl)

News from IAML (UK & Irl)

MusiCB3 Blog

about more than the Music Collections at CB3

Arcana.fm

Putting a spark into classical music...

The Cross-Eyed Pianist

Frances Wilson blogs on pianism, classical music and culture