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


Cardiff Music Lecture – hits a high note !

The first of this year’s series of Rare Books and Music Lectures was presented by Dr Loukia Drosopoulou, the academic specialist who is working on the cataloguing of the Music historical collections in the JISC funded project in Cardiff. Her lecture title – ’18th and 19th Century Music Collections at Cardiff’, was subtitled: ‘Travelling Collections’, and this was a major strand in her talk, relating the complex and compelling historical story of the provenance of these collections, and their journey from printer, publisher or family owner, to the public and university libraries which have held these music scores and manuscripts for the last two centuries and more.

The lecture covered the range of collections held, arising from ownership by the Mackworth family in the 18th century, the Aylward collection started in the 19th century, and the BBC collection formed in the 20th century, but all of them including materials going back several centuries, from across Britain and the Continent.

An outline of the complicated printing and publishing history was illustrated by images from a range of the scores whose minor differences all added to the difficulties of clearly identifying specific dates of publication, publishing houses, composers names, and a host of more intricate details which make chronicling the history of these source documents so challenging.

The lecture was concluded by reference to one of the composers included in the collection, not so famous now but important in his day, Boccherini; a recorded piece of his 18th century music was played, and was a high point in the presentation, allowing all who attended to gain an impression of the musical treasures which are contained in Cardiff’s large and impressive historical music collections.

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).

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!