Monday, 5 December 2011

Christmas Quiz

In December, instead of our usual 'Composer of the Month' display, we have created a musical quiz. So far, nobody has come up with five correct answers. Can you?

The following images are single pages from 5 different musical scores. Can you work out which pieces of music the pages are from? There is a link between 4 of them but there is one odd one out. Good luck!







Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Music e-Books @Oxford

With the vacation fast approaching, don’t forget that you can access e-books from home, using your Oxford single sign-on (SSO). Most people prefer the feel and convenience of a printed book but electronic books do have their advantages. They provide an alternative to their printed equivalents which are accessible around the clock, even when the libraries are closed or when all library copies are out on loan. Using e-books can also be a way of “borrowing” more books when you have reached the limit of your library account. The ability to perform full text searching in an e-book goes beyond the access provided by the index in a printed book, enabling you to find quotations and search footnotes. E-books also weigh less and are easier to carry!

How do you find them?

Most single e-books are catalogued separately on SOLO and records will be found clustered with or very close to their print counterparts. Look out for “[electronic resource]” in your results list then click the “View Online” link. You can also limit your search to “Online Resources”. However, there is normally a bit of a delay between us acquiring an e-book and the record appearing in SOLO.

What’s available?

Not everything - far from it. Until recently, very few music books were available electronically but the number is increasing all the time. However, shortage of funds prevents us from buying everything we’d like so we have tended to concentrate on key texts on reading lists, when they are available.

Until recently, most individual titles have been purchased from the EBSCO Host E-Books Collection (formerly called NetLibrary) so all titles we have purchased from this source can be accessed through their website, even before the record appears in SOLO. These EBSCO e-books have a limited simultaneous user licence meaning that only two people can use them at once but that’s not normally too much of a problem.

Additionally, The Bodleian Libraries have recently started to use EBL (The E-Book Library) which operates on a different model. Once purchased, each e-book comes with an annual allocation of 325 ‘credits’. One credit provides up to 24 hours access to the book per reader but access is not restricted to two simultaneous users. These e-books may also be downloaded to computers or used on most hand-held devices, including iPhones, Androids and various e-book readers (except Kindles). We can use EBL e-books we have purchased for up to 10 minutes without using up any credits but the good thing about EBL is that it also allows free access to any of the e-books in their collection for up to 5 minutes with the option of instantly recommending a title to Library staff for purchase via a simple online form. Once the purchase is approved, the e-book is available for use within 2 minutes. Visit the EBL website to see what's available.

Some e-books come in packages to which we subscribe and these can also be accessed via the publishers’ web pages as well as through SOLO. Such packages include the Cambridge Companions series, the Cambridge Histories and ACLS Humanities E-Books. Records for most of the Cambridge Companions have not yet reached SOLO so, for the time being, search SOLO or OxLIP+ for “Cambridge Companions Online” for access to the individual titles.

Electronic books have their problems and they are not the answer to everyone’s prayers. However, they do have some advantages so please don’t forget they exist. Take some time to explore what’s available and make use of them.

For more information about e-books, see the newly revised Music e-books page on the MFL website.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Vacation borrowing

Short Loan books needed for the Christmas break?

We need to keep one copy of all Short Loan Collection books here for the vacation so that people who stay in Oxford have access to the whole collection.  However, you CAN take Short Loan items if there are two copies of the item that you need on the shelf.  From Friday morning, 2nd December, duplicated Short Loan books will be available for loan until Friday 13th January (Week 0).  You will need to bring two copies of the book you want to the library counter to prove that there’s a spare to leave on the shelf.  There’s usually a bit of a rush, so come early if you want to take one of the “doubles” available. 

You will need to be here in person if you want to do this; you may not just renew online a Short Loan that you have already borrowed. Don’t despair if there is only a single copy left on Friday morning.  By Saturday (we’re open 10am till 1pm), all two day Short Loans will have to have been returned and often you can harvest a "double” on the Saturday.

If you hadn’t already realised, week-loan books and all sheet music and scores can now be taken out for the vacation and will be due back on the 17th January (Tuesday of Week 1).


Monday, 17 October 2011

Oodles of opera: a sound donation

Last March, a donation of over a thousand CDs was delivered to the Music Faculty Library by Professor Michael Burden. This collection, of epic proportions, belonged to the late Robert Oresko (1947-2010), who worked in publishing, owning his own press, before becoming a full-time private scholar of Italian history.

Donations can be a great way for libraries to develop their collections; however, there are certain restrictions on what can be accepted. Practical considerations, such as staff having time to deal with the material, and space (or lack of it!) also exert an influence over what we can keep.

Mostly comprising opera recordings by composers ranging from Handel to Berg, many of them of live performances from the mid 20th century, this particular donation’s historical and research value was identified straight away. We decided that we would keep as much of it as possible, by keeping some material on open shelves and putting the remainder into storage.

How, though, were we to decide what warranted display in the library, and what should be relegated to the store cupboard?

To answer this, we decided to inventory the collection as quickly as possible, using an Access database to record key details, such as title, composer, conductor and principal performers. We could then extract the results and send them to people with specialist knowledge who would be able to use this information to distinguish the most significant recordings from the more peripheral ones.

In making the database, it was very interesting to observe themes and patterns in the recordings, perhaps telling us something about what motivated Oresko as a collector. Clearly a fan of live recordings, his favourites were clear; for instance, the collection contains no less than 17 different recordings of Wagner’s Die Walkure, but only three of Siegfried. Verdi and Wagner topped the list in terms of composers, whilst Karl Böhm and Joseph Keilberth were the most recurring conductors.

We are grateful to Dr Roger Allen, who advised us on the merits of the Wagner and Strauss performances, and Dr Emanuele Senici, from La Sapienza in Rome, who selected the key recordings of Mozart’s operas, and those of the Italian composers. The remainder of the material comprised mainly single recordings of other operas, many of which did not already feature on our shelves; Umberto Giordano and Alberto Catalani are examples of composers who now feature thanks to the Oresko donation.

In total, we identified 429 recordings to keep on open shelves, a massive boost to our existing collection of opera discs. Most of these are now on display in the listening room, so can be browsed and borrowed as normal. They’re not catalogued on SOLO yet, though, but if you want to search the collection away from the library, you can consult a spreadsheet on the faculty library website, here. The 516 recordings we’ve kept in reserve are on here too, and these can also be retrieved and loaned out if you can’t find what you need on the shelves.

Happy listening - we hope you enjoy the collection as much as we have!


Sunday, 9 October 2011

William Boyce at 300

I was pleased to see that Anna Pensaert at Cambridge marked the Boyce tercentenary with a recent posting on their MusiCB3 blog. Oxford too has good reason to celebrate the anniversary of this much under-rated composer so William Boyce has been made the first ‘Composer of the Month’ of the new academic year at the Music Faculty Library, in a display put together by Michael O’Hagan. The Bodleian holds a large number of his manuscripts, some of which found their way into the Music School collection after his death. (This magnificent life-size portrait by Thomas Hudson hangs in a room off the Lower Reading Room in the Bodleian Library. Boyce is depicted holding a copy of his serenata Solomon.)

A friend of mine recently described Boyce as “the 18th century's greatest Englishman”. That might be a little extravagant but Boyce could reasonably lay claim to be the greatest native English composer of his time. 11th September 1711 was the day on which the baptism of “Boyes, William, Son of John & Elizabeth” was recorded in the registers of the parish church of St James, Garlick-Hythe. His actual date of birth remains unknown but can be assumed to have been not long before. 1711 was also the year in which Handel began to make his mark on musical life in England, with the spectacular success of Rinaldo, and Boyce lived much of his life in the shadow of Handel’s music. 

Boyce became a chorister at St Paul’s and was apprenticed to Maurice Greene, the organist and master of the choristers at the cathedral. In 1736, he became a composer to the Chapel Royal and was appointed Master of the King’s Music in 1755. In 1758, he became one of the organists of the Chapel Royal. He combined these responsibilities with organists’ posts at a number of London churches and private teaching. 

Boyce's output includes a large number of anthems and other church music, along with a set of organ voluntaries, but his talents extended way beyond the confines of the church to embrace orchestral and chamber music, secular songs and music for the theatre. It is sad that the vast majority of Boyce’s compositional output is now virtually unknown, with the possible exception of movements from the set of eight very attractive “symphonies”, all extracted from larger works, which get occasional airings over the radio waves, and a few of his anthems which retain a foothold in the repertoires of our cathedral and collegiate choirs.

His role as Master of the King's Music entailed the composition of large quantities of music for the court. The Bodleian holds the manuscripts of 43 court odes, along with a number of other works. Boyce was also responsible for the music at the coronation of King George III In 1761 and himself wrote eight anthems for the occasion (also now in the Bodleian) although he declined to set Zadok the Priest, in deference to Handel’s own incomparable setting.

Boyce was also an avid collector and his substantial music library was sold at auction after his death in 1779. The sale catalogue has recently been analysed by Harry Johnstone and Robert J. Bruce in a fascinating article in the latest RMA Research Chronicle, v. 43 (2010), 'A Catalogue of the Truly Valuable and Curious Library of Music Late in the Possession of Dr. William Boyce (1779): Transcription and Commentary'.

Boyce conducted at the Three Choirs Festival for over 20 years and, in addition to his activities as composer, conductor and teacher, was also of great importance as an editor, compiling a ground-breaking retrospective collection of English church music under the title Cathedral Music, published in three large volumes between 1760 and 1773. Cathedral Music ensured the survival of a great deal of earlier English church music in the repertoire and was used in some cathedrals right up to the 20th century. However, most of his own music suffered neglect until a gradual revival of interest began in the early 20th century. Constant Lambert produced an edition of the symphonies in 1928 and Gerald Finzi also began to study Boyce's music, making use of the manuscripts in the Bodleian, and performing it with his Newbury Players in the 1940s. He later edited Boyce's overtures, published posthumously in the Musica Britannica series.

The bicentenary of Boyce’s death in 1979 provided occasion for the revival of some more of Boyce's music and a few recordings have since been made, including some by New College Choir. A few more of his works have also now been published in facsimile or modern editions. Several doctoral theses have emerged over the years but Boyce has had to wait 300 years for a dedicated monograph to appear, in the form of Ian Bartlett’s William Boyce : a tercentenary sourcebook and compendium (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2011). 

This attractive music deserves to be studied, performed and heard. Let us hope that, in what’s left of this anniversary year, a further boost can be given to Boyce’s reputation and the appreciation of his music.


Monday, 3 October 2011

Treasures of the Bodleian

See the Treasures of the Bodleian exhibition in the Old Library quad or visit it online at Music is represented by Purcell, Handel and Mendelssohn.


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

More DVDs

Over the summer, the Faculty Library was fortunate to receive a donation of around 40 opera DVDs which has increased our collection by around 50%. Although second-hand, most had never been played. Some have provided us with our first DVDs of particular operas, e.g. Berlioz, The Trojans, (Monteverdi Choir/Gardiner), or Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila (Kirov Opera/ Gergiev), others supplement our existing collection with alternative versions which offer a choice of productions for the purposes of comparison or just to cater for different tastes. There are also a few recordings which might now be considered ‘historic’, such as Lanfranchi’s production of Turandot (1958), with the legendary Franco Corelli as Calaf, and Karl Bohm’s performance of Ariadne auf Naxos from the 1965 Salzburg Festival. Progress is gradually being made in adding them to SOLO so they should soon all be available for use.


Friday, 16 September 2011


Another big development over the summer has been the implementation of a new integrated library system. The most noticeable thing from a reader’s perspective is that OLIS has disappeared. SOLO now provides the only public access to our catalogues and has been adjusted to accommodate the new Aleph database that now holds our bibliographic data. It has also been developed to include the circulation and patron functions formerly included in OLIS so it will no longer be necessary to change systems to check the availability of a book, to reserve or renew an item or to place a stack request. All these functions are now accessible from within SOLO. 

As well as the public-facing side of the system, all the behind-the-scenes functionality has changed for circulation, acquisitions, cataloguing and stack requests so please be patient with staff while we get up-to-speed with the new software. 

Click here for help on using the new SOLO.


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

News from the central Bodleian

In the central Bodleian, a large underground area between the Old Bodleian and the Radcliffe Camera has been redeveloped as a new open access area for readers. With space for more than 250,000 volumes, the area (known as the Gladstone Link, after the Victorian prime minister William Gladstone who designed the original rolling bookcases housed there) is intended to hold all the academic books received in the last three years (other than those selected for open shelves in the reading rooms) and books identified as being ‘high use’.
Old Gladstone shelving

Tunnel between the Old Library and Gladstone Link

This should greatly increase the amount of material immediately accessible to readers and reduce the amount of traffic to and from the book storage facility in Swindon. Look out for books with the location 'Bodleian - Gladstone Link Open Shelves' on SOLO (see below). These cannot be requested to other locations but may be read in the Gladstone Link or taken by readers to any reading room within the Old Bodleian or Radcliffe Camera.

Accessible from both the Old Library and the Radcliffe Camera, the Gladstone Link is well worth a visit.

You will be pleased to hear that the music book moves are complete and that staffing levels in the Music Section are now back to normal. This means that there should now be a regular presence of Music staff in Duke Humfrey’s Library to help with your enquiries, Sally in the study on the left as you enter Duke Humfrey and Juliet on the enquiry desk in Selden End. 


Monday, 12 September 2011

New academic year, revamped music library

The 2011/12 academic year is nearly upon us and, with it, come several changes. First of all, welcome to our new Music@The Bodleian blog! The driving force behind this has mainly been the need to improve our communication channels but we have also been inspired by the efforts of our opposite numbers in Cambridge whose MusiCB3 blog has made interesting reading over the last few months. Our occasional postings will chiefly be aimed at the users of our libraries but we hope that some of them might be of interest to the wider world. We are going to be posting here about any changes to and developments in the library services for music, projects that we're involved in and the music collections that the Bodleian Libraries have to offer. You can follow our new Twitter feed @Bodleian_Music to find out when we've written a new post or you can subscribe via email to make sure that you don't miss any of our news. The Faculty Library also still has a Facebook page.

Though the Bodleian Music Faculty Library was closed for most of August, the library staff were working away doing vital jobs that would have been impossible to do had the library been open. One of the biggest undertakings was the rearrangement of the first floor to enable the Library of Congress sequence to grow in the new academic year as we buy new books (keep an eye on our LibraryThing page for details of new acquisitions) and reclassify some other sections of the library. The move has resulted in all of the scores on that floor being shelved to your left as you walk through the door from the staircase and the Library of Congress sequence being moved to where the Periodicals used to be. Here is a downloadable map of the new layout. This is why we couldn't do the book move with the library open:

Meanwhile, the photocopying room has had a makeover. We now have new, faster machines, the room has been painted and we've had a new carpet. We think it's a massive improvement and hope you agree!