An early accordion method

One of the greatest joys of managing the early printed music at the Royal College of Music Library is getting to do what I like to call ‘treasure hunting.’ We are in a similar position to many other libraries around the country, I imagine, in that a portion of our special collections are so far not represented on our online catalogue. One of my main roles at the RCM is to work through our early printed collection and catalogue those items which for so long have been left untouched. Some real treasures – hence why I call it treasure hunting – have been unearthed during this process: autograph corrected proof copies of works by Holst, Coleridge-Taylor, and Elgar; an annotated score from Queen Victoria’s coronation; a presentation copy of Smyth’s Mass in D, complete with autographs of all the performers at its second performance; and even a very early English Bible, the Bishops’ Bible, published in 1585. A recent discovery, although of much narrower interest than the above examples, has taken me down quite the rabbit-hole recently.

This rather battered, unassuming accordion tutor was published by T. E. Purday, and arranged by an elusive figure named Gustav von Kleyser. I know of no resource that can offer up any information on this gentleman, and the only other mention of him I have found is simply in reference to a later edition of the same work, held at Bibliothèque musicale de la Ville de Genève. The RCM copy is, to my knowledge, the only copy of the first edition held by any library.

Besides the obscurity of its author, on first glance there appears to be nothing too interesting about this item. In the style of the majority of method books of its day, it begins with a written section on the instrument in question, provides some fingering charts, and ends with some arrangements of the popular tunes of the day. (I use the word ‘arrangement’ in the loosest possible sense, given that these are mostly single melodic lines, firmly centred in the middle register, and could feasibly be played on any treble-clef instrument.) The author skips the customary ‘rudiments of music’ section, evidently holding accordion players in such high regard that he feels confident that they won’t need the basics of pitch and note lengths explained! There is a rather charming illustration of a party of splendidly-dressed men and women, either playing accordions or looking on admiringly.

Kleyser describes the accordion as a ‘new and most extraordinary instrument … with a sweetness of sound which far exceeds the most mellifluous notes that can be obtained from any wind instrument.’

High praise indeed! (As a wind player myself, I must confess that I would be hesitant to describe the accordion in this way.) Thrown off guard, perhaps, by this description, it did occur to me that maybe Kleyser did not have in mind the type of accordions we have today. So which instruments are we talking about, exactly?

The accordion that most of us are familiar with has buttons on the left, a piano-style keyboard on the right, and is so large that it is mostly played sitting down. By contrast, the instruments pictured in Kleyser’s book appear to be much smaller, can be comfortably played whilst standing, and are described as being ‘so light, that a child may carry it under the arm.’ He also provides fingering charts for accordions having only as many as 6, 8, 10 or 12 keys, as opposed to the over 150 keys on a modern accordion. Having recently catalogued a large amount of concertina music, it did occur to me that perhaps the instruments pictured were concertinas: a sort of hexagonal, miniature accordion. Indeed, the concertina was sometimes referred to as an accordion. The concertina as an instrument has enjoyed enormous popularity over recent years, with at least 20 concertina ‘clubs’ meeting regularly in the UK alone (all of whom I have offended, no doubt, by describing their instrument as a miniature accordion). I soon found myself on concertina.com, and drawn to one article in particular: a discussion of the Earliest known English-language German concertina tutor, published in 1846 by Kleyser & Tritschler. The re-appearance of the name Kleyser seemed too large a coincidence to ignore. My (mistaken) belief that this was indeed a concertina method was cemented.

If Kleyser & Tritschler’s 1846 concertina method was the earliest English-language tutor known at the time of the article’s writing, where on the timeline does the present Instructions for playing the French & German accordions fall? Armed with Humphries & Smith, I learned that Thomas Edward Purday operated from the address given on the imprint between 1834 and 1862. A useful start, but still a rather large date range. In the absence of any biographical information about Gustav von Kleyser, I began to give up hope of narrowing this date range any further. That is, until I noticed Kleyser’s arrangement of the National Anthem. Entitled: God save the King. God save… the King. A quick Wikipedia search later, and it was confirmed: Queen Victoria succeeded King William IV in 1837, thus narrowing our date range to a mere three year span: 1834-1837. We can be very thankful that Kleyser chose not to entitle this arrangement simply, ‘The National Anthem’!

Elated in my (again, mistaken) belief that I had discovered an English-language concertina method predating the earliest currently known, I contacted the founder and webmaster of concertina.com, Robert Gaskins (who also happens to be the inventor of PowerPoint – that’s another story…), asking for his expert advice. He wrote back very promptly and thoroughly. I was, as you surely have noticed by now, incorrect about this being a concertina method. Mr. Gaskins observed that some of the accordions pictured in the illustration appear to be left-handed, whilst others are played right-handed (these being the ‘German’ and ‘French’ accordions respectively). A very detailed article by Stephen Chambers provides pictures and descriptions of ‘Viennese’ and ‘French’ accordions (pictures 8 and 9 of the linked article), which very closely resemble those pictured in Kleyser’s book (note in particular, the accordion sitting atop the piano, which has been drawn with great precision).

Chambers dates both of his pictured accordions to circa 1835, which would of course match my speculated date range of 1834-1837. At this stage, Chambers’ excellent article was able to satisfy my remaining questions. The accordion in this early form, having only been patented in 1829, was seen in London as early as 1830, and a tutor was published for it the same year. This Kleyser tutor, therefore, may not be the earliest, but certainly dates to within a decade of the accordion’s invention, and does appear to have been previously unknown in this first edition.

Is there a connection between accordion-lover Gustav von Kleyser, and the concertina publishers and manufacturers Kleyser & Tritschler? Unfortunately, this remains to be answered, although I would invite your speculations. Since Kleyser writes so forcefully about the accordion, I should be a little disappointed to learn that he took up with the new-fangled concertina so soon afterwards. I leave you with a passionate excerpt from his writing, which commends the accordion strongly enough to soften the heart of even this most hardened wind player…

These singular advantages at once account for its being so very fashionable; and, with the present reduction in price, cannot fail of establishing it as a permanent musical instrument, than which, none can be better devised, to develop and direct the musical feelings of the beginner, to communicate to him the meaning of the various expressions belonging to music, and to display all the delicate discrimination, refinement, and impassioned energy, of the most vigorous and accomplished performer.

Instructions for playing the French & German accordions is currently on display at the RCM Library.

Jonathan Frank, Assistant Librarian, Royal College of Music

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Two last nights! Show business in Georgian London

William Heath, Stage Door, 1823.
© Gerald Coke Handel Foundation

If you’re down in London this Christmas season, don’t forget to spend some time at the Foundling Museum, where they have a wonderful exhibition – a how-to-guide to going to a show in eighteenth century Britain.

Displayed throughout the whole Museum, this interactive exhibition delves into the mechanics of theatre and concert going in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain. With more than 100 objects on display, discover the surprising similarities and astonishing differences between theatre and festival-going then and now, including advertising, ticket sales, audience behaviour and dress code.

Going to a show flourished as a popular pastime in the eighteenth century and as a result the entertainment industry saw rapid expansion: many theatres were built and music festivals began in both London and the provinces. These growing forms of entertainment contributed to the vast range of audience experiences we know today.

Enjoy a fascinating glimpse of behind-the-scenes roles, from theatre managers, set designers and scenery-painters, to the refreshment sellers and ticket collectors. Learn how leading artists of the day, including Hogarth, Hayman and Lambert, crossed over into the world of show business as set designers and scenery painters.

Two Last Nights! explores key venues in London and the provinces, from the theatres of Drury Lane, Covent Garden and Richmond, to the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and the Foundling Hospital Chapel, as well as the provincial music festivals of other major cities in Britain.

The exhibition is divided into four sections.

Georgian Theatre
Highlights in this section include caricatures and drawings of Georgian audience members, who came to see and be seen. Original advertising, programmes and tickets are displayed alongside information about how Georgian audiences purchased tickets and detail the development of the modern-day ‘box office’.

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens
An important highlight of the exhibition is an original eighteenth-century supper box painting, Devil to Pay, by Francis Hayman (1708-1776) which depicts the famous actress Kitty Clive.

Ticket Vauxhall, May 31 1792 © Gerald Coke Handel Foundation

Foundling Museum Chapel
Two Last Nights! reveals the importance of the Foundling Hospital Chapel as a music venue in Georgian Britain. George Frideric Handel was a fervent supporter of the Foundling Hospital and from 1749 he gave an annual benefit concert, raising thousands of pounds for the Hospital.

Music Festivals
Visitors can discover how performers capitalised on the summer season and logistical complexities of staging a music festival, including the transport of staging, singers and instruments between venues, travelling only by horse and cart.

The exhibition has already received rave reviews from the Evening Standard. Included in the Museum entrance price, it’s well worth a visit away from the bustle of the festive shops.

Two Last Nights! is supported by the Gerald Coke Handel Foundation, the Two Last Nights! Supporters’ Circle and The 1739 Club.

Katharine Hogg, Gerald Coke Handel Collection, The Foundling Museum

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Remembering Malcolm: coda

Following on from our earlier post about Malcolm Lewis, a few words from Katharine Hogg, current President of IAML (UK&Irl).

There were three Malcolms in IAML (UK), as it was then, when I joined in the late 1980s; Malcolm Lewis, Malcolm Turner and Malcolm Jones. Was it something in the name that turned them all into music librarians?

Malcolm Lewis was a kind friend who always had an eye out for new members and made a point of welcoming them to events. I benefited from this particularly at my first overseas IAML in Canada in 1994, when Malcolm, as Branch President, was also attending his first overseas IAML – the public library service then was better funded, but didn’t run to overseas conferences. As we melted in the heatwave there he made a point of including me in conversation at coffee and lunch breaks, introducing me to UK colleagues and sharing our bafflement at some of the more obscure sessions and constitutional matters.

Having said that, Malcolm was an expert on the IAML (UK) constitution, and older members of the UK branch will remember extensive debates on some finer points over the years. His indefatigable optimism was infectious, in his collaborative contributions to the Music Library and Information Plan in the 1990s, his support of public music libraries during endless financial cuts, and his continued interest in the Branch long after he retired from active service.

One of his last contributions to the branch was to nominate me for the post of President; in his time as President he set the bar high! Always self-effacing, in his final years Malcolm fought illness bravely, sharing the positive moments of his life as well as facing the stark realities of his condition. His love of cricket, pints, music and libraries remained with him, as did his humour and sense of the ridiculous. He was much loved by colleagues across the UK, and will be sorely missed.

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Introducing… the IAML (UK&Irl) Trade and Copyright Committee

We all have our copyright problems. Luckily the IAML (UK&Irl) Trade & Copyright Committee is here to help! 

‘T & C’ works on behalf of IAML (UK & Irl) members and the music library community more generally to provide advice, training and updates on aspects of copyright and intellectual property law and related policies, especially those that affect how we all work. It also maintains a close relationship with the music publishers and suppliers – so good in fact that Presto Music have generously offered a 10% discount on all sheet music, to all IAML (UK & Irl) members! Importantly, the committee’s work also ensures that the music industry and national copyright bodies are made aware of the issues facing music libraries and our users.  

A recent example of this involved the issue of codes and download cards, used by publishers to provide access to extra content online, such as audio files. Some of these systems work on a ‘one purchaser, one user’ model, meaning that once the first person has accessed the material, no one else can – obviously a problem in a library situation. T & C raised this at a Music Publishers Association meeting, alerting the heads of some of the major music publishers in the UK to a problem they hadn’t given much thought to before. Just a few weeks ago, Claire Kidwell, Chair of the committee, got confirmation that Hal Leonard (now in charge of the Music Sales catalogue) are moving away from this model to codes that allow multiple users.

The Committee was able to make the case thanks to evidence gathered from the IAML (UK & Irl) JISCMAIL list. Often T & C will be asked to provide feedback for such things as a revision to the Music Publisher Association’s Code of Fair Practice, or the Intellectual Property Office’s consultation on plans for a no-deal Brexit. When this happens, expect to see some kind of survey circulated via the list. Our feedback to those bodies relies on you, so views/thoughts/opinions and especially concrete examples are always really useful as evidence of real-world issues. Given the position of music libraries and archives in providing access to musical materials, we are more often than not in a good position to give an insight into some the practical implications of laws and policies that are decided.

Another aspect of the committee’s work is providing training and advice. You may have come to one of the ASW sessions organised by T&C in the past few years – covering everything from live performance in libraries; to copyright in a digital environment; to this year’s excellent session on the role of publisher hire libraries. We have also produced a set of FAQs, links to useful documents and an overview of significant changes to copyright law on the IAML website. The committee keeps a watching brief on these things both from the perspective of UK copyright law, and, thanks to Susan Brodigan from the Contemporary Music Centre in Dublin, Irish copyright law too.  

Finally, who is part of this amazing committee…?! There are seven members in all (plus me as secretary), representing different parts of the music library world.

Claire Kidwell, from Trinity Laban, is Chair. Claire is currently also in charge of the ‘big’ IAML copyright committee and represents IAML at other national organisations, such as LACA (the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance). The other members are

  • Susan Brodigan, The Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland
  • Richard Chesser, British Library
  • Mila Conti, Westminster Music Library
  • Morag Greig, University of Glasgow
  • Claire Marsh, Leeds College of Music
  • Simon Wright, Oxford University Press

Chris Scobie, Secretary to the Trade and Copyright Committee

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Remembering Malcolm

The UK and Ireland branch of IAML was sorry to hear last month of the death of Malcolm Lewis, Branch President, 1992-1995. Although Malcolm had been ill for some time, his spirit and sense of fun, lasted right to the end. He was much loved by members of the Branch, many of whom have sent memories for inclusion on the blog. Malcolm’s funeral will take place on October 16th, at 2.00 pm at St. Peter’s Church, Nottingham, followed by interment at Tithe Green Woodland Burial site.

Ruth Hellen (former President, IAML (UK & Irl)):

It was always a joy to be with Malcolm, both socially and in meetings. One of the many things which I remember about him in Executive Committee meetings was his ability to act as a mobile filing cabinet. In the days before papers were digitised and accessible by various means, the question was often asked ‘what did we decide last time we discussed this?’ After a quick rummage in his briefcase Malcolm would come up with the very set of minutes which were needed to answer the question.

Julie Crawley (former General Secretary, IAML (UK & Irl)):

I have so many fond memories of Malcolm Lewis, having been General Secretary while he was President in the early 1990s.  Those were the days before email and so at work I had daily phone calls from Malcolm on branch business.  I remember we were both invited for drinks in the House of Commons bar, overlooking the Thames, when we were lobbying MPs over some issue but I can’t remember what now!  I also remember at the IAML conference in Helsinki we were both looking out for Roy Stanley – to discuss possible UK and Ireland allegiances, which of course eventually resulted in IAML(UK & Irl).  That was a matter we spent much time planning and discussing.

I have so many fond memories of his good humour and kindness and amazing diligence, dedicating himself to branch business. 

Malcolm Jones (past President, IAML (UK & Irl)):

Malcolm Lewis, Branch President 1992-5 served on the Executive for many years. Among his achievements were a mastery of the Branch Constituition, which he revised several times, and a Guide to the Interlending of Sets, which contains much useful material and shoud surely be made available again. 

He encouraged co-operation in all its forms; he was a leader in a Group of East Midlands Librarians in the 1970’s, and took part in a printed union catalogue of vocal music sets (edited by Kem Anderson), which was later converted to a data file, much of which survives in Encore. He was secretary to the group who formulated the ISMN, taking part in ther negotiations in Paris, which led to its publication as ISO 2709. The Branch awarded him a special commendation for this work. He “found time” to run a very successful operation from Nottingham until his retirement.

He was always cheerful and good fun to be with. He would happily take a joke: when camping in France on the ways to the ISO negotioations, he went shopping and was asked to get potatoes. He came back complaining that he was only offered apples, having overlooked the essential qualification to “pommes!”

It is now nearly six years since he was diagnosed with cancer, which spread, and led to many treatments. He was initially given a few months; in all this time in regular phone calls and some visits to a favourite pub, he never complained, although he was entirely realistic about his condition, and would talk about it. It is ironic then, that it was not the cancer which killed him, but a bout of pneumonia. Knowing him has been a joy and a strength. We miss him terribly.

Margaret Jones (Blog editor):

Many thanks to all the contributors. I never knew Malcolm, and wish, after reading tributes here and on the list, that I had been able to meet him. It is clear that not only was he admired and respected professionally, he was also much loved. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.

Past IAML Presidents 1986-2016: Malcolm Lewis is third from the left.
L-R Malcolm Jones (1986-89), Pam Thompson (1989-92), Malcolm Lewis (1992-95), Roger Taylor (1995-98), Ruth Hellen (1998-2001), Susi Woodhouse (2001-04), Kathryn Adamson (2004-07), Liz Hart (2007-10), Richard Chesser (2010-2013), Peter Baxter (2013-2016)
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The 2019 IAML Congress in Krakow: Brilliant Ideas in a Beautiful Historical Setting

As former capital of Poland and site of many historical buildings and architectural marvels, Krakow has been attracting visitors from around the globe for centuries. This July it drew in music librarians, musicologists and heritage sector professionals in particular. They all had the same destination: the Auditorium Maximum of the second oldest university in Central and Eastern Europe, re-named and re-founded by King Vladislaus Jagiełło almost exactly 619 years before hosting the 2019 IAML Congress.

I was lucky to be able to join the crowd pouring into this modern campus extension on the second and third day of the conference, thanks to funding from the Music Libraries Trust and a favourable reference from the Saxon State and University Library (SLUB) Dresden, whose Specialised Information Service for Musicology (musiconn) I have been supporting as a freelance after taking my leave from York St John University Library this April. Since then I have been responsible for clearing rights for one of the SLUB’s open access initiatives and for putting concert data into its newly developed musiconn.performance database. My fascination with music performance ephemera goes back 10 years further, however, when I read about the British Concert Programmes Project on the IAML website. At that time I was in the early stages of writing my PhD thesis on Mendelssohn, but already decided there and then to turn my musicological interests towards becoming a music library professional after graduation.

Since my attendance at this year’s IAML congress coincided with another imminent thesis submission – this time in order to complete my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science – I decided to make the best of it and chose to attend sessions which revolved around topics most relevant to my work and studies. Monday’s opening session was particularly interesting for me since it focused on music librarians’ and musicologists’ endeavours to re-discover, preserve and publish Polish music, some of which has been buried away in musical archives across continental Europe for 150 years. Their ongoing and committed search for the still lost scores of Polish composers such as Adolf Konrad Gużewski brought back memories to me of my own ventures into music archives in Greece in 2015 and 2016. At that time I conducted a trans-Continental scoping study in order to trace materials related to Mendelssohn’s counterpoint student Camille-Marie Stamaty and other Hellenic composers of the long nineteenth century. Thinking of Mendelssohn’s own music revivals, I am convinced that he would have loved to witness performances of re-discovered Polish musical works, as they have been featured at the International Music Festival Chopin and his Europe for several years, thanks to the concerted efforts of Artur Szklener and the artistic department of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw.

During coffee break I gained insights into the state of music librarianship further afar. Yifan Yu and Bin Han from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Library told me more about China’s music libraries which are affiliated with its independent music conservatories. According to them, library staff at these institutions is rarely trained in both music and library science. Beyond that, even though library science can be studied at many universities and colleges within the country, it is practically impossible to specialize in music or any other field of librarianship while doing so. As a result, professional discourse on classification schemes for music and other issues of music librarianship is sparse across the workforce. In Greece this – in some ways previously similar – situation has improved over the years within the framework of the Hellenic Academic Music Libraries Cooperative Scheme (HAMLC) and more recent efforts to complete a nation-wide transition from AACR2 to RDA, as I found out in the following session exploring ways of “Preserving music collections and facilitating discovery”. Aris Bazmadelis, music librarian at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and former President of the Greek IAML branch, introduced the scheme on his own since his colleague Maria Aslanidi from the Archive of Greek Music at the Ionian University in Corfu could not be present. I still remember both of them well from my time in Greece, since their knowledge and expertise had steered my research on Thessalonician composers such as Dimitrios Lalas and Emilios Riadis in the right direction. Thanks to them and their colleagues at the “Lilian Voudouri” Music Library of Greece in Athens, communication and collaborations between Greek academic music libraries are finally increasing. When I remember their initiative and vigour, I can only agree with Aris’ quote of the English author Ashleigh Brilliant: “Good ideas are common — what’s uncommon are people who’ll work hard enough to bring them about.”

Other highlights I was able to catch on Monday included an afternoon session on open access and research impact schemes, a working meeting of the Study Group on Access to Performance Ephemera, and an evening concert at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Before enjoying the concert premiere of Józef Nowakowski’s Quintet in E flat major, Op. 17, I was thrilled to find out about the SPARC Coalition which supports affiliated institutions in their intention to make scholarly publications and other academic resources available for open access. Australian partnership models for librarians and music researchers presented by Georgina Binns also caught my full attention and enthusiasm. New service models at her home institution, the library of the University of Melbourne, allow music librarians to support researchers and academics in a truly partnership-driven role. RILAS, their Research Impact Library Advisory Service, provides users with guidance on how to engage with recent research evaluation tools and measures in order to make their research grant and academic promotion applications more sustainable and lucrative.

Partnerships and issues of collaboration were also discussed subsequently by IAML’s Study Group on Access to Performance Ephemera (whom I have joined last year) in the context of present and anticipated concert database projects. Integrative performance databases unquestionably rely on an overwhelming amount of data and materials. Hence, there is a clear necessity for libraries, publishers, research teams and HE institutions to collaborate with each other and to harvest data from existing orchestra management tools as well as digital archives and portals of concert venues. This thought was further substantiated in Tuesday’s morning session on Digital Scholarship, when André Avorio presented Alexander Street’s new Performance History Project. Currently in its beta version, his team’s events database uses its own identifiers in order to bring together performance data from the Weimar Playbill Database, the Open Music Library (OML) and the Royal Opera House. At the same time, it provides charts and diagrams which illustrate these data based on their origin and the composer performed. Back home in Durham (and fully recovered from a sprained ankle which had put a premature end to my active conference participation at Jagiellonian University), I was able to conclude my Master’s thesis with a broader discussion of such visual strategies to extend the scope of the German musiconn.performance database. Now that this task is done, I deeply regret not to have spent more time in Krakow with old and new friends from the international IAML community. Hopefully next year’s IAML Congress will provide more opportunities for doing so – let’s meet in Prague in 2020 and find out!

Sabine Koch, Research Assistant, Saxon State and University Library (SLUB) Dresden

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Don’t miss the Public Libraries Seminar

The 2019 Music in Public Libraries Seminar will take place on Friday 27th September from 1pm to 4.30pm in the ground floor Committee Room of Loxley House, Station Street, Nottingham, close to Nottingham railway station and the city centre.

Loxley House, Nottingham

Nottingham is easy to reach by public transport from many areas of the UK.

The seminar is primarily intended for library staff who work with music, in all its aspects, in a public library setting for some or all of their working week, but is open to everyone. The seminar is free to attend.

The afternoon will include talks by Christopher Scobie, Curator for Music Manuscripts at the British Library, on IAML’s resource discovery databases (Cecilia and the Concert Programmes database), and by Anna Wright, past president of IAML (UK & Irl), on current trends in performance set provision in the UK. Anna will also provide an update on the Surrey/NewSPALS situation. (If you don’t know what that is, why not come along and find out?)

For further information and bookings please contact Ros Edwards at r.edwards@manchester.gov.uk or by phone at 0161 234 1976

There is plenty of space for other talks/presentations during the afternoon, so if you have introduced a new service, want to report on a project in your library, or simply share some library news, please do let Ros know. The Public Libraries Seminar is an important networking opportunity for music staff in public libraries. Don’t miss out! 

Ros Edwards, Henry Watson Music Library, Manchester

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