Songs in the English language

Songs in the English language, a collection of printed music from England, Ireland and Scotland, is now cataloged and available for research.

The gift of emeritus professor John Milton Ward, these English-language songs were published in London, Dublin, Glasgow and Edinburgh between 1675 and 1870. There are ballads, popular songs, romances, pastorals, patriotic songs, hunting songs, bawdy songs, sea songs, political songs, and music from theaters and pleasure gardens.  Most of the pieces carry the name of their composer and many also identify the singer who first made the song famous as well as where it was sung.

Arne, T. A. Rule Britannia. Ms. Coll. 143 (85)

Arne, T. A. Rule Britannia. Ms. Coll. 143 (85)

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Cecil Sharp in America

Among the collections of the Isham Memorial Library, a special library adjunct to the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, may be found Ms. Coll. 131, a huge file of lively correspondence between Richard Aldrich, chief music critic of the New York Times from 1902 to 1923, and his friends, editors and fellow critics. Aldrich graduated from Harvard University and his personal library, donated posthumously by his son in 1955, was an important early gift to the Loeb Music Library.

One particularly thick folder is that of letters to Aldrich from the folk music collector and editor Cecil Sharp. The correspondence chiefly concerned Sharp’s desire to investigate traditional English music as it was performed in the United States and Canada. Sharp’s research would result in the two-volume work English Folk-Songs from the Southern Appalachians (1932). Grove music online credits Sharp with giving “impetus to American efforts, subsequently taken up by American universities, to collect and publish their traditional ballads and songs, both English and indigenous, and to conserve their other traditional arts” (but see also The Imagined Village: Culture, Ideology, and the English Folk Revival, by Georgina Boyes, for a more nuanced interpretation).

In these letters we see Sharp tentatively exploring his relationship to the United States and its traditional music.

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