To see current CPH news, please click here.
The major project undertaken by the CPH team in 2008 was the relocation of the iconographic materials (artworks, photographs), performance documentation and related collections in a new, specially refurbished facility at College Hall. For the first time all the material is together in air-conditioned storage rooms, with a reception area for visitors and a reading room. We hope that this will enhance the service we can offer to visiting researchers, and it means that the long-term preservation of the collection is secured.
The constituent parts of the CPH collection that will be moving are
The majority of these items have been transferred to the new facility already, but some categories of material will be moved later in 2009:
Those parts that are not moving are
The CPH Research Centre at Shepherd's Bush is open to RCM students and staff and members of the public by prior appointment. For details of research access to the CPH collections, click here.
There is good access to the area via bus, car and the underground, and there are a number of good eating places within two minutes walk of College Hall. For further details, click here.
In the summer of 2008 the unattributed portrait of Gaetano Pugnani (1754) returned from La Venaria Reale, near Turin where it had formed part of the inaugural exhibition of the newly-restored palace of the House of Savoy. The exhibition - La Reggia di Venaria e I Savoia - was an enormous success, and was accompanied by a sumptuous catalogue.
The portrait is now once again on public display in the Museum.
A Portrait of Kathleen Long
Kathleen Long (1896-1968) studied piano with Herbert Sharpe at the RCM 1910–16, and was a teacher at the College 1920–64. Much admired for her performances of Mozart, Beethoven and French music (particularly Fauré). Kathleen Long also championed new music, and in January 1934 gave the first performance of Phantasm, Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra by Frank Bridge, with the composer conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Guy Worsdell (1908–1979) was born in York and studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. He was not only active as a painter, but also as a wood engraver and book illustrator. This portrait of Kathleen Long was painted c. 1962 and may reflect his own great love a music - he played the clavichord.
The portrait, along with other memorabilia of Kathleen Long, including an annotated score, a photograph and three recordings, was owned by the late Freda Taylor and these items have been very generously gifted to the Royal College of Music by her legatees Mr and Mrs Graham Hackett and Miss Tessa Sackin, to whom we offer our thanks, along with Mrs H.M. Wingfield and Angela Hughes, for their assistance.
Re-stringing of the Museum’s Keene spinet
Since the strings are at the very heart of a harpsichord or spinet, the correct stringing and pitch of such instruments is of supreme importance. A great deal of research into historical stringing practice has been undertaken by Malcolm Rose, Grant O’Brien and others and their expertise has recently been sought with regards the Museum of Instrument’s bentside spinet made by Stephen Keene in London in the early 1680s. This 300-year old instrument is in remarkably fine condition with virtually no cracks or case distortion and has been kept in playing order since the late 1960s. In order to ensure that students and visitors to the museum hear the instrument at its best it was decided to re-string the instrument according to the latest research. The work was undertaken in November by the harpsichord builder and wire manufacturer Malcolm Rose and the instrument is now tuned to a slightly higher pitch than previously, at A392 Hz (one whole tone below modern pitch) using brass wire throughout the compass or range. Minor repairs were also made to the instrument, including reducing the lateral movement of the keys on the balance pins to reduce the rattling. The result is an instrument of which the museum is justly proud and one that is particularly suitable for the music of Henry Purcell (1659–95) and John Blow (1648/9–1708), the tercentenary of whose death has recently been celebrated in a museum workshop led by Robert Woolley.
NICE Paintings – National Inventory of Continental European Paintings
This lists paintings created by non-British artists before 1900 now held in British Collections. Only a relatively small subset of the CPH collection is included, but all have colour images and the full records are very informative. Thanks to Paul Collen for supervising the external researchers’ work on this project.
Concert Programmes in the UK and Ireland
The database, which provides information about the major holdings of concert programmes in the UK and Ireland (so includes details of the RCM collection, one of the largest covered by the project) has now migrated to its final home on the MLA/Cornucopia server, and was formally launched on 10 December 2007 at the British Library. You can search by place, date, person and organisation.
We will have the ability to edit our existing records and generate new ones. Thanks are due to everyone in the CPH who contributed in various ways to the successful outcome of this project, and to the research team - especially Rupert Ridgewell, Deborah Lee and Ian Taylor - for their painstaking work in processing a vast amount of information.
The Music of Gustav Mahler: A Catalogue of Manuscript and Printed Sources (Phase 1)
This catalogue lists all surviving manuscript sources and presents full bibliographic descriptions of the early printed sources: all those that appeared during the composer’s lifetime, and first or other important editions that appeared after his death. This information is accompanied by lists of performances during Mahler’s lifetime, brief details of historically significant recordings and supplementary essays.
The aim of this project is to
· provide physical descriptions of the sources of Mahler's music and their present locations
· trace their history and interconnections. It also
· include entries for 'lost' sources, some of which we know must have existed but have never come to public view and others that have had a brief public profile (often in auction or dealers' catalogues), but whose present location is unknown. An awareness of such sources is essential for an understanding of Mahler's working methods and the evaluation and interpretation of the sources that do survive and are accessible.
This first phase consists mainly of entries for the first two symphonies.
London Music Trades
This project grew out of some ground-breaking research by Dr Lance Whitehead and Jenny Nex, and aims to provide biographical information about anyone working in the music industry in London during the period 1750-1800.
A beta version of this database is now loaded on the College servers. There is quite a lot of work still to be done on the underlying data and the database front-end, but it now contains nearly 2200 records and offers a wealth of information on the famous, the not-so-famous and the deeply obscure. It is an on-going project, and we hope to be able to develop a facility to allow online additions by registered collaborators in due course.
A new search facility has been added to the CPH website: click on 'Search the CPH Pages' found in the left hand panel of this screen. An advanced search facility is offered on the results screen.
Early in October the unattributed portrait of Gaetano Pugnani (1754) was transported to La Venaria Reale, near Turin for the inaugural exhibition of the newly-restored palace of the House of Savoy. The exhibition - La Reggia di Venaria e I Savoia - has been an enormous success, visited by over 150,000 people in the first two months.
We offer our congratulations to Assistant Curator Michael Mullen, who has been awarded his DMus in composition from the Royal College of Music.
The Centre for Performance History is grateful to the team of volunteers who help with invigilating in the Museum during public opening and with other important tasks within the CPH.
The Museum would like to acknowledge with thanks the gift of further instruments from Philip Jones’ collection by his widow Ursula. As well as adding to the display in the Museum, since some of these instruments are playable they will enhance the playing experience of RCM students. One of the more unusual examples, a bass trumpet, has already featured in a performance of Janáček. The Museum is also pleased to have acquired a replica pair of nakers, small medieval drums.
The RCM and its Museum featured in the television programme How London was Built, presented by Adam Hart Davis and broadcast in December (ITV1 / History Channel). The Curator of Musical Instruments, Jenny Nex, talked about musical life in eighteenth century London and the Worshipful Company of Musicians Junior Fellow in Performance History, Bridget Cunningham, played the Museum’s 1773 Kirkman harpsichord.
Last term saw a good number of concerts and events in the Museum. In October, we marked the end of the current phase of the Concert Programmes Project with a concert based on a programme from 1805; in November, we celebrated modern music written for instruments of previous generations, ‘New for Old’, including music by RCM Professor William Mival, student Claes Biehl and the winner of last year’s Museum composer’s competition, Louis Mander; and were pleased to host an evening of theatre music presented by the RCM’s Ensemble in Residence, The Oboe Band. We also held lunchtime concerts during the ‘Inclusion Through Music’ conference, hosted the Historical Performance Department’s woodwind taster sessions, welcomed a large group during the RCM International Viol Festival; and opened the Museum for the Junior Department’s Double Reed Day.
This term’s main events will include a concert organised by the BMus Performance History class on 4th February and a celebration of English composer John Dowland including music for viols, voices and lute on 5th March. (for tickets please contact the RCM box office).
At the start of the year, Worshipful Company Junior Fellow, Bridget Cunningham organised a concert at the Theatre at the National Gallery of Art and a podcast in the RCM Museum to celebrate the exhibition in the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing of ‘Renaissance Siena: Art For A City’. She was joined by fellow musicians to showcase music from this time based around the painting ‘The Assumption of the Virgin’ by Matteo di Giovanni. This painting features the Virgin Mary rising to heaven surrounded by angels singing and playing various instruments including the portative organ, harp, nakers and psaltery and thus the concert reflected performance practice and music from Italy in the 15th Century.
In June, Bridget will be giving a harpsichord concert and lecture recital with James Heard from the National Gallery featuring music from the Dutch 17th century, focusing on stunning works of art by Vermeer, Metsu and Jan Steen.
John Ireland entered the Royal College of Music in 1893 (at the age of fourteen) to study the piano with Frederick Cliffe, then composition with Stanford from 1897 – 1901. He returned to teach composition between 1920 and 1939; his students included Richard Arnell, Benjamin Britten, Alan Bush, E.J.Moeran and Humphrey Searle.
Many of his works are inspired by poetry and his interest in pagan mysticism. Places too, exerted a strong influence, notably Chelsea, The Channel Islands and West Sussex. He had a flat in Deal on the Kent coast, in a house on the High Street that Peter Warlock used to visit. They would go along to the King’s Head Inn and entertain the other drinkers from the piano! Local artist, Pat Moody, also taxi driver, nurse and MI5 agent during World War II, made a drawing of Ireland c.1948, three studies for which have recently been given to the College by her close friend Mrs Nicole Loftus-Potter, who ran an antique shop in Beach Street. Along with these sketches comes some supporting material including a small bundle of Ireland’s letters.
If you would like to keep up-to-date with developments at the CPH by automatically receiving a copy of the Centre's free, termly e-Newsletter, please e-mail email@example.com.
Sir Malcolm Arnold
The career of Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006), one of our most distinguished alumni has been celebrated not only through performances at the RCM, but also by a very generous gift to the College by the artist Ken Jones. His vivid and complex portrait of the composer was created recently, based on extensive sketches undertaken in 2001 for another, rather different, portrait of of Arnold which now hangs in the Guildhall at Northampton.
Ken Jones was born in Ilford in 1944, but spent most of his childhood in Dagenham. He trained at the Walthamstow Art School, specialising at first in stone-carving, but since then he has worked in many media. His mother was a talented amateur musician, and he exploited the facilities of the local record library to acquire an extensive knowledge of twentieth century music. His portraits of Arnold are affectionate tributes to a composer he greatly admired, and in making the donation he wished to acknowledge the College's role in fostering Arnold's gifts. Once it has been framed the portrait will be on public view later this year.
Herbert Walenn (1870-1953) was a fine cellist - he gave the first performance of William Hurlstone's D minor cello sonata in 1899, and was a member of the Kruse String Quartet - but is known today chiefly as teacher, and founder of the London Cello School (1919). A pupil of Edward Howell at the RAM he subsequently travelled to Frankfurt to study with Hugo Becker (who also taught Beatrice Harrison). Walenn established himself and his school opposite the Royal Academy of Music, where he was also a Professor for many years, counting Zara Nelsova, Boris Hambourg, Douglas Cameron, William Pleeth and John Barbirolli among his pupils.
The artist of this exquisite miniature was Elsie Muriel Hatchard (b. 1889) and it was painted in about 1910 when she was one of Walenn's pupils. Her daughter, Thelma Slade (née Godfrey) - who has generously donated the picture to the RCM - had a distinguished career as a soprano.
In September 2006, the opening hours of the Museum were increased to four afternoons a week from two (Tues-Fri 2-4:30). We are pleased that we saw an increase in visitor numbers as a result, 81% more for the autumn term than for the same period in 2005. This naturally has an impact on staff availability but we are working hard to maintain a good service for all Museum users.
On Saturday 14th October, we opened the Museum to some 100 Junior Department students, who were given tours to introduce some of the CPH’s collections. They heard demonstrations on early keyboard instruments in the collection and some were able to try modern replicas of flutes, viols and a serpent. More such events will be organised in the future to discuss the possibilities of historically informed performance with this important group of RCM students.
The ‘Taster’ sessions for woodwind students run by the Head of Historical Performance, Ashley Solomon, were held in the Museum. Exponents of baroque oboe, bassoon, clarinet and flute each gave a presentation on their instruments and attendees were then able to try modern replicas. It is hoped that these sessions will encourage students to consider studying baroque and classical versions of their instruments as second or associated studies.
Events in the Museum last term included two concerts. On 20th November the Curator presented a programme performed by RCM students of music by the 18th-century composers whose portraits hang in the Museum. The evening looked at musical life in London, the context in which the composers worked, and the instruments they would have known, thus tying together numerous strands of the RCM’s collections. On 11th December, RCM trumpeter Simon Desbruslais brought the Fantini Consort to the Museum and presented a lively concert of music for soprano, trumpet, strings and continuo by Torelli, Boismortier and JS Bach.
Visitors came for guided tours from various external establishments including London Metropolitan University, The Viola da Gamba Society of Great Britain, West Dean College, Queen Mary’s College Basingstoke and the University of the Third Age. We continue to provide research access to scholars, including visitors from Japan, Scotland and America, and our publications (catalogues, instrument plans) are sent all over the world.
Last term we held various workshops and individual coaching sessions for singers in the Museum. We focused on Baroque style and looked at the accompanying keyboard instruments used. Students performed music by Monteverdi, Purcell, Vivaldi, Handel and Bach with the aim to try pieces with different instruments and discuss style and accompaniment and issues that can help them and things they can ask their accompanists to do.
It was interesting for the singers to try arias and recitative with different keyboard instruments to feel various levels of support, and the Kirkman harpsichord (1773 - young temperament, 415 pitch), Italian harpsichord (1610 - quarter comma meantone, 440 pitch) the chamber organ attributed to Bernard Smith (1702 - meantone temperament, 440 pitch), the English Spinet (1708 - meantone, 415 pitch) and the Broadwood Piano (1799 - equal temperament 415 pitch) were used. This helped to raise awareness of differences in pitch and temperaments and how they may effect the way music is sung.
As well as comparing accompanying instruments, temperaments, pitches, and articulation, we also looked at various different editions, including a comparison of an early printed version of Purcell’s Orpheus Britannicus (1702) which we have here in the RCM library and a modern edition. We talked about performance practice, and how to make decisions and whether to follow the suggestions of the editor. Singers were also encouraged to look at treatises for the voice as well as for instruments, including Giovanni Bassano’s writing on ornamentation (1598) and Caccini’s ‘Le Nuove Musiche’ (1602). The ‘Observations on the Florid Song’ written by Pier Francesco Tosi in 1743 is also a great read about 18th - century singing and states; ‘Singing requires so strict an application, that one must study with the mind, when one cannot with the voice’.
We are putting on further workshops throughout the year. For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The aim of the competition is to encourage RCM composers to write music for early keyboard instruments in the Museum. On 26th February, all pieces submitted will be performed on the Kirkman Harpsichord (1773), the Dolmetsch Clavichord (1894) or the Bertsche Piano (1821). The closing date for compositions is Monday the 12th February at 4.30pm.
Prizes will be awarded for the best compositions and credit will be given for sensitivity to the instruments. There will also be an audience vote. The winners will also have their pieces performed in the summer term in the Museum Concert for contemporary music on early instruments.
A concert in the RCM Museum to celebrate all things Irish A Celtic Celebration of St Patrick will take place on 16th March 2007 at 6.30pm and include music by Roseingrave, O’Carolan and many other composers. The historic Weber harpsichord built in Dublin in the 18th century, will be played.
A concert based around the RCM MS1070 A music book for Anne Boleyn is planned for mid-May. This will include motets for voices and viols, and some instrumental pieces attributed to Henry VIII himself.
Three notable works of art have returned to the RCM after extended absences. The anonymous portrait (1815) of Thomas Attwood (1765–1838), Mozart’s only English pupil, has been on display at a major exhibition devoted to Mozart at the Albertina in Vienna, while Bartolommeo Nazari’s portrait of Farinelli (Carlo Broschi: 1705–82) has been on display in the Handel House as part of their exhibition on Castrati. The largest of the paintings, though is the anonymous ‘Donaldson Frieze’, a depiction of a group of renaissance musicians. The origin of the work is shrouded in mystery – the consensus seems to be that it was painted by a Flemish artist working in Northern Italy c. 1620 – and it was given to the College by Sir George Donaldson. With the aid of a grant from the Prince Consort Foundation, the painting has been thoroughly restored over the last six months by Richard Watkiss and Tony Reeve. It has been rehung in the Donaldson Room of the RCM Library using a system that will offer improved support to this important depiction of music making.
The Donaldson Frieze
During the summer the whole of top floor of the Bloomfield building has been substantially renovated, remodelled and re-equipped. As a result we had to move out of the substantial storage bays located in the central room, that have served for a temporary store for a considerable portion of the CPH collection. They was difficult of access, dusty and cramped; and with no record of what was where, it was a collection that it was difficult to use.
We have now completed the transfer of all of the material to College Hall (for the less frequently used items) and a new vault in the basement of the Bloomfield Building. This provides us with clean and spacious storage, and much better working conditions – we hope that over the next few years we will be able to provide greatly enhanced access to these portions of the collection.
The process was greatly helped by Emily Worthington (MMus, 2006) and Iva Lokajickova (BMus Year 3) who not only assisted with the shelving of items in the new vault, but also integrated a considerable quantity of unsorted concert programmes into the main filing system.
We are pleased to say that since the 1st September, the Museum has extended its public opening hours, which are now Tuesday to Friday, 2:00–4:30, in term time and the summer vacation. Research visits and guided tours can be made at those and other times by appointment (email@example.com, 020 7591 4842). We hope that this makes it easier for the many visitors who are in London for only a few days to come and see the CPH collection.
Over the summer, our Conservator Chris Nobbs renovated the backing boards in all the gallery showcases. He is currently working on improving supports for instruments while the Curatorial staff are updating showcase labels. This work is greatly enhancing the Museum display as well as care and interpretation of the instruments.
The CPH has had a busy start to the term with visits by new and returning students, and with CPH staff giving presentations to first and second year groups. Teaching in the forthcoming academic year includes sessions for MMus and BMus students as well as individual support for DMus candidates.
Concerts are planned throughout the year, including an exploration of the work of composers whose portraits hang in the Museum (20th November), a celebration of St Patrick’s Day (16th March) and a concert to mark the death of Anne Boleyn, whose music book is held by the RCM Library.
Bridget Cunningham, the Worshipful Company of Musicians Junior Fellow in Performance History, is running a workshop in October to discuss with RCM singers the impact of different keyboard instruments on what performers can expect from their accompanists. Also, Bridget is organising a competition for RCM student composers to write new music for the Museum’s Dolmetsch clavichord, Kirkman harpsichord or Broadwood piano. These works will be performed in the spring term with a further performance for the winner in a later Museum concert. For further details about either event contact Bridget Cunningham, firstname.lastname@example.org.Musical Acoustics Conference at the RCM
On Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st September, the RCM, together with London Metropolitan University, hosted a conference of the UK Musical Acoustics Network. This was held jointly with the Groupe Specialise Acoustique Musicale (France). The exciting programme featured many interesting papers from members of the musical acoustics research community - including scientists, performers and instrument makers.
The RCM day, which took place in the Britten Theatre, was entitled 'Musical Performance and Historical Instruments' and included papers from a number of UK and French speakers on a wide range of themes. In addition, there were presentations by RCM staff including Dr Paul Banks (Head, Centre for Performance History) and Dr Aaron Williamon (Head, Centre for the Study of Music Performance), and a visit to the RCM Museum of Instruments. The day concluded with a short performance of music for flute, viola da gamba and harpsichord by Beggars Benison, including Michael Mullen (Assistant Curator, Museum of Instruments).
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The portrait of Benjamin Flight purchased earlier in the year is now on display in the Museum. An important maker of Barrel organs, Flight worked with his brother William in London in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He is depicted in front of a table which holds his mechanism for marking out where the pins should be positioned on barrels. The artist George Dawes (1781–1829), known for his many depictions of Russian nobility, exhibited this striking portrait at the Royal Academy in 1813.
On 9th March, keyboard students Andrew Aarons, Erik Dippenaar, Emma Gibbins, Anthony Goode, Sonia Kao and Elenlucia Pappalardo gave a concert in the Museum using the 1894 clavichord made by Arnold Dolmetsch. The action of the clavichord is different from all other keyboard instruments as the small brass flag which strikes the string stays in contact with the string for as long as the key remains depressed. This means that players have control over the sound after the string has been struck, making the clavichord an expressive, albeit quiet instrument. Most of the performers had not played the clavichord before and worked hard to get to know the intricacies of the instrument. They all achieved a high standard of playing which was greatly appreciated by the audience. The students were directed in their studies by the RCM’s Early Music Advisor, Robert Woolley.
Crispian Steele-Perkins gave a masterclass for brass students on 2nd May, examining early types of trumpet and bugle together with their repertoire. Eight trumpet students played instruments given or loaned to the Museum by Crispian in 2004. As well as directing their playing, Crispian demonstrated various instruments himself, including the slide trumpet and keyed bugle. The session was greatly enjoyed by all and it is hoped that similar events will be arranged in the future.
The 350th anniversary of the birth of Marin Marais was marked by a concert of French music on 8th May. Solo harpsichord music was interspersed with ensemble repertoire on flute, oboe and strings. The next Museum Concert is on Tuesday 4th July, entitled Mozart in London: instruments will include the 1773 Kirkman harpsichord and the 1799 Broadwood grand piano.
Junior Fellow in Performance History: Bridget Cunningham
Important eighteenth-century concert programme
A fascinating archive has come to light in the Museum: programmes, account books, press cuttings and other material relating to the Chaplin Trio, an ensemble of three sisters. Trained in the late nineteenth century, they became interested in the revival of renaissance and baroque dance and were accompanying demonstrations of these dances in the early years of the twentieth century. Well before the First World War they were playing on original instruments (harpsichord and viols), and were clearly pioneers in the field. Nevertheless their contribution seems to have been largely overlooked, despite the fact that there is some evidence that they were the aunts of a rather more famous performer – Charlie Chaplin. A wonderful research project for someone!
What's new is not just changed (and, we hope, improved) navigation on the website, but also some significant new pages:
We hope that these will help to make our collections better known both within and outside the RCM.
This academic year we are launching a new BMus level 2 course unit: 'Performance History'. This aims to introduce some of the important parts of the CPH collections that can provide performers with information about how music was performed and experienced in the past: historical instruments, images of musicians, concert programmes and historic recordings. The course will offer students hands-on training in how to handle such objects and documents, and opportunities to draw on some of the unique items in their own coursework projects.
One of the most often consulted parts of the CPH Collections is the substantial holding of programmes for concerts, opera and ballet. There over 600,000 items and the number continues to rise. In recent years the backlog of unsorted programmes has grown considerably, but this year, largely thanks to Maria Kiladi (temporary assistant) and Debbie Lee (Concert Programmes Project Research Assistant) a large proportion has finally been sorted and incorporated into the main sequence, ready for inclusion in the CPP online database.
The Concert Programme Project welcomed three new members of staff during the summer. Deborah Lee joined us in July as Research Assistant and is responsible for cataloguing the RCM’s vast collection of concert programmes. She has previously worked on similar projects at the Bodleian Library and the Natural History Museum and has a particular interest in nineteenth-century opera. Deborah has compiled detailed records on two important performer collections at the RCM: Isolde Menges collection and the Leon Goossens collection. The Goossens collections has proved particularly interesting and challenging because of the large number and variety of the UK provincial venues in which Goossens performed throughout his career. It is hoped that the methodology developed to deal with Goossens’ provincial concerts can be adapted for other collections with large amounts of provincial material.
Erin McPhee joined the project in August and will be sorting and cataloguing collections at the National Library of Scotland and Edinburgh City Library. Erin is currently working on a PhD at Edinburgh University on Scottish traditional ballads. As well as producing detailed records of Edinburgh collections, Erin's work will also provide much authority data for Scottish concert venues and societies.
Dr Ian Taylor joined the team on 12 September as a Research Assistant. He will be based at the British Library in the first instance, researching and cataloguing the collections held in various parts of the library. Ian recently completed a DPhil at Oxford on concert life in London in the early nineteenth century.
The last couple of months have seen refinements to the CPP database; one of the most significant of these has been the use of copies of the database to enable multiple users to input data. Researchers work on “child” copies of the database which are periodically merged with the master. The lack of an established thesaurus of concert venues, and patchy coverage in musicological reference sources on concert venues and their histories, has led to in-depth discussions concerning venue names. Detailed guidelines about venue names are being developed to ensure consistency throughout the database and to reduce the risk of unwanted duplication. The information we're gathering about venues in the CPP database could also be used as the basis for an independent venues thesaurus in the future. We have also been testing a prototype version of the online database, to be made publicly available free of charge via the internet towards the end of the project in 2007.
Having worked as Curator since 1964, Elizabeth Wells retired from the RCM in July 2005. Following her initial research into the RCM Collection of Instruments and the subsequent fundraising, Elizabeth was responsible for the planning of the present Museum building, which was opened in 1970. Since then, she has worked on all aspects of collection management, research, documentation, and interpretation, including commissioning restoration, conservation and documentation projects, mounting exhibitions and concerts, and giving tours and lectures. Elizabeth has written articles for journals and a Guide to the Collection, edited and contributed to Parts I, Ia and II of the Catalogue and raised funds for projects, publications and acquisitions. In 1988 she was appointed MBE for services to music and was awarded the Anthony Baines Memorial Prize in 2005 by the Galpin Society for her contribution to organology.
Elizabeth is currently completing the preparation of Part III of the Catalogue, European Stringed Instruments, which she has been compiling with Christopher Nobbs, for publication by the College. Click here for a longer appreciation of Elizabeth Wells' career.
Following Elizabeth’s departure, the staffing of the Museum now consists of:
Following her early education in Cambridge, Jenny studied music at the University of Edinburgh from where she went on to specialise as a singer in early music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She gained her MA in Museum and Gallery Management from City University in 1997 and in August 2005 took over as Curator of the Museum at the Royal College of Music, where she previously held the post of Assistant Curator (Research). Jenny’s research interests include the design and construction of historical keyboard instruments and she is working towards a PhD in the Sociology Department of Goldsmiths College, studying the lives and businesses of instrument makers in London, 1750–1810.
Michael studied music at the University of Bristol where he gained a BMus and MAMus in composition. After fourteen years as a member of staff at the BBC music library he came to the RCM to study for the degree of DMus. Michael has interests in early music and plays the Viola da gamba in several semi-professional baroque ensembles in London.
Andrew Earis graduated in 2000 with a first class honours degree from Imperial College London and the RCM. He is currently in the final stages of completing a PhD at the University of Manchester on the measurement and analysis of expression in recorded piano performance. Within the RCM's Centre for Performance History (CPH), Andrew works as research assistant in the Museum and is responsible for co-ordinating the joint research into the acoustics of historical harpsichords with Imperial College. In addition to his work at the RCM, Andrew is Director of Music of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, the National Musicians' Church in the City of London, Director of Music of Wimbledon & District Synagogue, a visiting organ tutor at Dulwich College, Treasurer of the Church Music Society, on the staff of the AHRC Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM) and Editor of the newsletter and website of the Royal Musical Association (RMA). He is a Fellow of Trinity College London and an Associate of the Royal College of Organists.
Over the summer vacation, the railing around the edge of the gallery has been made safer with the addition of two horizontal bars. While there was previously only one bar at knee-height together with the hand rail, there are now two bars below the hand rail and a kick bar at ground level. This has significantly reduced the possibility of any person falling from the gallery.
While the Museum was closed for these works, the three models of piano actions made by Christopher Nobbs were loaned to Fenton House, where they were on display with the Benton Fletcher Collection of Early Keyboard Instruments. These models reveal how the hammer responds when a key is depressed on three different types of piano: the instrument made in 1726 by Bartolomeo Cristofori, Florence, now in the Musikinstrumenten-Museum der Universität Leipzig, no. 563 (Cristofori’s second action), and the RCM Museum’s two grand pianos made by John Broadwood & Son, London, 1799 (RCM 338), and by Jacob Bertsche, Vienna, 1821 (RCM 490). These models, together with examples of three other types of piano action models, can now be seen in the Museum.
Also on display in the Museum we are pleased with the addition of a set of musical glasses recently donated by Miss Anne McCay. The display has been adjusted so that visitors may now see this set, probably dating from the early nineteenth century, adjacent to the glass harmonica given to the RCM by Sir George Donaldson in 1894. Both instruments work on the same principal, with glass bowls made to vibrate by running wetted fingers round their rims, but where as the musical glasses sit each in its place within a wooden box, the bowls in the glass harmonica are fitted concentrically onto a rod which rotates by means of a foot pedal.
Other recent accessions include an ocarina from Miss McCoy, a clarinet from Diana Burger, and the Freddy Hill collection of barrel organs, flutes and other related items.
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This page last updated: 14 March 2014