Keeping the score

Music in the Library

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Keeping the Score: Baroque and classical music

Portrait of John Blow

Portrait of John Blow, engraved from life by R. White, frontispiece to Amphion Anglicus ( London: William Pearson, 1700). MR280.a.70.1
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Most of the ‘classical’ music we hear today in our concert halls and opera houses comes from a repertoire of orchestral, chamber, choral and operatic music that has an unbroken tradition stretching back to the seventeenth century.

A small proportion of operas, oratorios and orchestral works have remained popular since their first performance, but most music suffers neglect after a few years, either from the vagaries of popular taste, or from the low opinion of critics or academics. Recent explorations of baroque and classical repertoires have discovered much music of real quality that confounds both market and contemporary critical judgement. The largest part of the Library’s music collections is centred around these repertoires, from which we have selected a few important, rare and interesting items.