‘A Scattered Heritage: Britain’s Georgian Legal Deposit Music’

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Karen McAulay (Speaker), 18 Oct 2018

A Scattered Heritage: Britain’s Georgian Legal Deposit Music

Perhaps less glamorous than a newly-discovered pile of manuscripts, Britain’s surviving Georgian legal deposit music makes up in quantity for what it sometimes lacks in star quality. The principal of legal deposit has always been that copies of everything published should be registered, and then safely deposited in a few designated libraries. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, there was a considerable gap between the theory and the practice, particularly with music – but a lot still survives. I was awarded AHRC funding to establish a research network to explore what became of it all.

The University of Edinburgh was one of the designated legal deposit libraries at this time. It’s fair to say that the University kept less music than some of the other libraries did – but by no means the least! Edinburgh’s Hans Gal made a selective catalogue of music in the Reid School of Music, but he was dismissive of British music of this era, so he didn’t catalogue it all. In fairness, he wasn’t alone in his views. However, as a record of our cultural history, it is invaluable – and there are gems amongst the dross. As a corpus of music, it can be examined to inform us about musical tastes, musical education, and even the music publishing trade.

In this talk, I shall share with you how I set about exploring the Edinburgh legal deposit music, and what I’ve found out about it so far. I’ll highlight what the university professors decided to keep – in an era decades before the Reid Music Professorship was established – and tell you where you might find more of the same. You might even feel inspired to try some historically informed performances!

Event (Seminar)

TitleUniversity of Edinburgh Music Research Seminar
LocationUniversity of Edinburgh: Music Dept., Alison House
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Degree of recognitionLocal event