Keeping the score

Music in the Library

Sample exhibiton image

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Self portrait of William Alwyn

Self portrait of William Alwyn (original in Anderson Room)
[item not on display]
Reproduced courtesy of the William Alwyn Foundation

Cambridge University has a strong tradition of having a composer as Professor of Music. The installation of Chancellors was often the occasion for a specially composed ode, frequently by the incumbent Professor. Newly composed music has always been a required ‘exercise’ for the highest musical degrees. Apart from the chapel choirs there is only shadowy evidence for practical music making by members of the University until the foundation of the Cambridge University Musical Society in 1843, and the Cambridge University Musical Club in 1889.

From the mid-nineteenth century onwards a great variety of musical gifts and acquisitions came to the Library from many different sources. These include are collections of the papers and manuscripts of the composers William Alwyn, Doreen Carwithen and Peter Tranchell, and the emigré writer on music Hans Keller. Smaller musical collections include scores belonging to the cabaret singer Hedli Anderson (including autograph manuscripts by Britten and Walton) and the conductors Norman Del Mar and Eugene Goossens.