3 October

Prof. Paul Banks

(Royal College of Music)

One Man's Britten: A New Source for the Reception History of the Music of Benjamin Britten

Scholars working on the history of music in performance from the late 19th century onwards rely heavily on programmes and published reviews for documentation, so our understanding of how contemporary audiences heard the music often comes almost exclusively from the writings of professional critics. The discovery of a large, previously unrecorded and un-researched collection of documents at the Royal College of Music opens up new perspectives onto London musical life in the mid-twentieth century, and the early works of Benjamin Britten in particular, as seen and heard by a non-specialist, but passionate music lover. Written for a group of friends in the north of England, Lionel Bradley’s regular reports offer a unique insight into one man’s experience of live and broadcast concerts and opera. This paper will introduce the collection and its author and will offer an assessment of the scope and significance of this extensive research resource.

10 October

Prof. John Irving

(DeNote, IMR, Trinity-Laban)

Mozart on the Hass Clavichord

“Mozart on the Hass Clavichord is a two-year research project in which JOHN IRVING explored the sound of Mozart’s solo keyboard music on a historic 1763 clavichord by Johann Adolph Hass in the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical instruments. It was supported by The British Academy’s Small Research Grants scheme, 2010-12. The project explored the ways in which the player – John Irving himself – might create an aesthetically pleasing and practically workable alignment between Mozart’s notation and its unnotated, but implicit expectations of further creative embellishment by the performer. Particular issues investigated included the precise the shaping of phrases; the attack on the front of notes (and the succession of those attacks within a melodic phrase, or contrapuntal texture); the length and modes of connection of pitches within a melodic line, or harmonic bass; and most especially in this project the application of all this to the mechanics of a particular and very wonderful and idiosyncratic historical instrument by one of the very best makers of his age.”

24 October

Dr Motje Wolf

(De Montfort University)

Ears II

7 November

Dr David Hunter

(University of Texas at Austin)

Handel, Slavery, and the new Financial Capitalism

Over the last 15 years or so, scholars in other areas of the arts (e.g., art, architecture, landscape design) have been considering how much of our heritage is beholden to profits from the slave trade and plantations, and working out ways of coming to terms with that legacy.  Regrettably, the topic has been ignored or avoided by musicologists, in particular those who study Handel, despite the fact that it has long been known that Handel invested in one slave trading company, the South Sea Company.  This year I have uncovered evidence that he also invested in another, the Royal African Company.  In addition to exposing the facts of Handel's investments and the deliberate obfuscation by scholars, I highlight numerous ironies, the most poignant being that of Handel biographer Victor Schoelcher.  His volume, published in 1857, was the first to utilize archival materials, including the conducting scores.  Schoelcher was responsible for ending slavery in the French colonies in 1848.

28 November

Prof. Ian Russell

(Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen)

The English Village Carol

12 December

Prof. David Smith

(Department of Music, University of Aberdeen)

The Interconnection of Religious, Social, and Musical Networks: Creating a Context for the Keyboard Music of Peter Philips and its Dissemination