On the Importance of the Aylward and Mackworth Printed Music Collections

By Professor Rudolf Rasch

Why are the Aylward and Mackworth printed music collections important for musicians and musicologists? Although I have not gone through the entire collections, rather the opposite, I have only seen a very small portion of them, still some remarks can be made.

First of all, we should be happy with every copy of an early edition of music that has been preserved. We may think that once we know a piece of music from one source, all the other sources are no longer relevant. But it is just the opposite: copies of early music may be similar, but they may be different as well. Composers and publishers may have inserted changes and additions, and users may have left indications on them such as fingerings and articulations. The more copies we have of the same composition, the better we can tell the story and the history that are present in every piece of music. The number of preserved copies is a rough estimate of its popularity, and the variation between the copies shows us to what extent music was merely left as it was or instead arranged, corrected, changed, improved, etc.

Another feature of many items in the Aylward and Mackworth collections is that they are still as they were when they were last used. This means that they show their way of being used, they have signatures of former owners, and copies bound together also tell us about the taste of certain owners, and so on. Other music collections in libraries often have rebound all the early music and have thereby destroyed a lot of information about the history of the book.

Also, the Aylward and Mackworth collections are typical collections where “surprises” are possible. The collections were brought together over a considerable stretch of time, probably by more than one person, and they reflect a variety of tastes and preferences. By this they may have somewhat unpredictable contents, and among these unpredicted items may be rare or even unique items.

I have studied in detail only the Geminiani editions in the two collections, which, although not very large in number, have brought me to new ideas about the history of these editions. It was for instance the first time I saw Whatman watermarks in Geminiani’s music. (So far in music scholarship, these watermarks had only been found in music by Handel.) Also, a copy of the composer’s Concerti grossi Op.2 (AYL 480-486 (3)) looked in one way like a Walsh edition, and in other ways like Geminiani’s private edition. A comparison with other similar copies of this edition brought me to the conclusion that at a certain point of time Geminiani did not have sheets of all the pages of the edition left. Then John Walsh printed anew the missing pages so that at the end there is some kind of a composite edition. Such conclusions are only possible by studying a number of copies of an edition.


Cataloguing issues

During one of the Steering Group meetings held on the project, the problem of documenting different issues of the same edition – and so the different stages of an edition – was raised, especially for copies that also contained newly engraved plates.

The ‘Aylward’ collection is particularly rich in multiple copies of an edition, which are often found in different bound volumes. The cataloguing is assisting in bringing these together, as often such copies are scattered across the entire collection which also makes it difficult to see the exact holdings for a particular edition, especially for sets of parts. In many cases this has brought together different parts of incomplete sets, forming complete, or less incomplete, sets.

Publications by the firm of John Walsh are a frequent example where different issues of the same edition are found. Figure 1 illustrates an example of two different issues of Corelli’s Concerti grossi op.6 published by the Walsh firm, with the first showing signs of worn and cracked plates and the second, a later issue, newly engraved ones.

Rather than documenting such differences on one bibliographic record, the Steering Group, formed out of experts in the field of Music Publishing in the 18th and 19th centuries decided on creating different bibliographic records for each different issue found in the collection.

This practice will assist readers in identifying more easily different issues held in the SCOLAR music collections, and will enable research on various aspects of printed music, such as publishers’ practices and the popularity of and demand for certain repertoire, music engravers’ style, and the chronology of printed sources.

Figure 1: Examples of different issues of A. Corelli’s Concerti Grossi Op.6  published by the film of John Walsh (RISM A/I, C 3847)

AYL 480a

SCOLAR, AYL 480, p.24

AYL 480b

SCOLAR, AYL 480, p.25

AYL 69.a

SCOLAR, AYL 69, p.24

AYL 69.b

SCOLAR, AYL 69, p.25

The RISM Series A/I CD-ROM

The CD-ROM of the RISM Series A/I: Individual prints before 1800 that we have acquired for the project is proving an invaluable resource for the cataloguing of our collections. The CD-ROM was released in 2011 and includes all entries listed in the printed volumes of the RISM Series A/I, but its electronic format makes it easy to search the database by terms such as the title of a work, publishers’ plate numbers, names of engravers, place of publication and other.

Apart from making it easier to find the RISM A/I numbers, included in all bibliographic records created for pre-1800 printed items, the CD-ROM is proving particularly useful for identifying editions in the collections that are lacking a title page, either due to imperfect copies held or due to the collection holding certain instrumental parts only of a publication which were issued without a title page.

Once such example in the Aylward collection was an item misbound with Thomas Arne’s Lyric Harmony, published by Harrison & Co with plate numbers 20-21 (AYL 4). Only pages 25-33 were held of this item, bearing the plate number 27. The edition concerned a set of concertos as evident from the headings of the 5th and 6th works, and from the similar engraving with Thomas Arne’s Lyric Harmony it was possible to see that the publisher was the same.

Just by doing a search on the RISM CD-ROM for Harrison & Co and plate number 27 it was instantly possible to find out that the pages were from Harrison & Co’s edition of Handel’s 6 organ concertos op. 7 (HWV 306-311), now catalogued as (AYL 4a).

Miss Beckford’s collection of vocal duets

One of the strengths of the Aylward collection is that several original covers of collection items have been preserved, containing ownership annotations and bookplates that reveal important information about their provenance. In certain cases, the information goes all the way back to their first owner.

One such example that turned up quite early in the cataloguing of the collection is a volume with vocal duets and other pieces by the brothers Bonifacio and Luigi Asioli, published by Robert Birchall (AYL 7 (1-8)). The volume bears the cover label: ‘Asioli’s Duets &c / Miss Beckford’, and several title pages the name ‘Harriet Beckford’ in manuscript. The volume also bears the bookplate of Henry Seymer of Hanford, Dorset.

AYL 7 cover label

It appears that its first owner, Harriet Beckford (1779-1853), was the daughter of Sir Peter Beckford (1740–1811), notable patron of Muzio Clementi (1752-1832). According to Grove, Peter Beckford brought Clementi to England around 1766 to his own private estate and supported his musical training there for the next seven years. Although this took place before she was born, it illustrates the important musical environment she would have been brought up in, and the high standard of musical training she would have received at home.

AYL 7 (1): Title page with Harriet Beckford’s name marked at the top

Her uncle too, William Beckford (1760-1844), was a notable music patron and author amongst other writings of Italy; with sketches of Spain and Portugal where he describes a private musical evening in Madrid in 1787 in the presence of the composer Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805).

In 1807, Harriet Beckford married Henry Seymer (later Ker-Seymer) and the Aylward collection contains several additional volumes with his bookplate. Her portrait (Mrs Henry Ker-Seymer) was painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1840).

The notable family history of the owner of this volume in the Aylward collection greatly increases its value, and offers significant potential for research in the family’s musical activities and relations to notable composers and musicians of their time.

I am hoping by the end of the project to have formed a small collection within the Aylward collection of the Seymer family’s music volumes, and it would also be interesting to find out more about Harriet Beckford’s own musical training and skills as a performer.

                         AYL 7 (1-8)

Cataloguing the Aylward collection

I recently joined the project team as Project Cataloguer and through my postings I would like to share with you the progress I am making on the cataloguing of the three Historic Music Collections held in SCOLAR, i.e. the Aylward, BBC, and Mackworth collections, as well as interesting items I am coming across in the process.

I have started with the cataloguing of the Aylward collection, named after its former owner Theodore Edward Aylward (1844-1933) who held a number of posts as organist during his lifetime, most importantly at Llandaff Cathedral (1870-1876), Chichester Cathedral (1876-1886), and finally St. Andrew’s Church in Cardiff (1886-1925).

His collection comprises over 800 items, ranging largely from the 18th to the early 20th centuries, and contains both vocal and instrumental music.

If you would like to browse the items already catalogued, the best way would be to do a keyword search on the Cardiff University Library catalogue for the name ‘Aylward, Theodore Edward’.  As we are including his name on all records as a former owner, this will bring out all records created. Please note that not all the information we are inputting is currently displayed on the OPAC, so if you would like to view the full bibliographic record you should click on ‘MARC Format’ on the right of the record display.


In this view you will find additional information about the musical works and also the physical characteristics of the collection items. These include any manuscript annotations that are found on title pages and the musical text as well as bookplates, cover labels etc. revealing important information about the provenance of the copies and the places Aylward was able to acquire them. In addition, any information about the specific copy or set of parts, such as missing pages or parts will be listed here.

For this project we are working closely with RISM-UK and will be sending all records created for pre 1850 items to be incorporated onto the RISM-UK database:


For this reason we are including additional fields used by RISM such as a faithful transcription of the full title page and text incipit information for vocal works on such records. These can likewise be viewed on the ‘MARC view’ display.

We hope that you will find interest in the items catalogued and will be posting more news in the next few weeks on exciting discoveries that are already emerging from the collection!

Loukia Drosopoulou

Greetings from the Subject Librarian for Music

The Music Library at Aberdare Hall

The Music Library at Aberdare Hall

Now that the academic year is winding down a bit and students are sitting the last of their exams, I thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself as someone connected to the project.

1st November 2012 will mark my fifth anniversary with Cardiff University as the Subject Librarian for Music. When I started here, the Mackworth, Aylward, and BBC Collections were housed two floors above the Music Library in locked cabinets lining a small ensemble/seminar room. This JISC-funded project marks the culmination of plans begun back in 2008 on how best to maximise access to the Music Library’s Special Collections.

In addition to holding a basic consultant position in the Project Team, I also co-presented with David Wyn Jones and Richard Chesser on the project at this year’s Annual Study Weekend (ASW) for the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres’ United Kingdom and Ireland Branch (IAML UK & Irl). This is the annual national conference held for professionals (future, current, and past) in the business of curating and providing access services to music information resources.

For more information on our conference, please see my recent post on the Cardiff University ‘Library News’ Blog.

A week after the conference (which was held at the Cardiff University School of Music this year, the weekend after Easter), I attended a 2-day JISC meeting on behalf of our project team. It was really terrific to be able to put some human faces to the JISC brand and to forge connections with other JISC project participants.

More recently, I was thrilled to meet up yesterday with our new project cataloguer, Loukia. I first met Loukia when she attended the ASW a little over a month ago, and was quite excited to learn that she was given the appointment.

Loukia and I have already begun to talk about how to draw Music Library staff and School of Music students into her work on the project to increase visibility and personal investment from our community. Some ideas include having Loukia give a 50 minute presentation to our Third Year Dissertation students in November, and to perhaps arrange some job shadow opportunities with the Library staff.

It’s been amazing to see this project come together and I’m eternally grateful to the active members of the Project Team and to JISC for making it happen. I’ve very much enjoyed the exhibition these past two months, and can’t wait to see cataloguing records emerge from what was once obscured.

New staff for the Project

As of May 14th we welcome a new member of staff to the Project – Dr Loukia Drosopoulou. Loukia will be the new Cataloguing Librarian for the Music Collections in the Project. With a research background in 18th C. music, and having worked on music cataloguing projects with Royal Holloway – University of London, as well as with the British Library’s collections, Loukia brings a range of valuable knowledge and experience to our Project. We will look forward to future blogs on this site from Loukia as the Project develops further – so, watch this space!