Myself and some of the other volunteers have been helping to digitise some of the R.N.C.M.’s records, which in part include notebooks and concert posters from the Hallé librarians. We went to the very new and modern Hallé building at The Bridgewater Hall to meet the archivist and to learn more about their history, their archives and how the R.N.C.M. and The Hallé have worked together since The Hallé’s creation. Whilst I know of the Hallé I did not know a lot about how it all started, so I learned a lot from both the R.N.C.M. archivist Heather and The Hallé archivist Eleanor.
The workshops are starting, the content is nearly all online and our exhibitions are being created! It’s full steam ahead at project HQ (my desk).
We are working with Instigate Arts to design and deliver workshops which encourage creative responses to the stories we have uncovered and the material we have digitised. Inspire Centre, Levenshulme, had a jolly time of it working on a song arrangement performed at the college from just before the war.
The material we have chosen to digitise is so rich in information. We have programmes and registers from the Royal Manchester College of Music. We have a play and wartime childhood magazine written by composer Alan Rawsthorne when he was just a lad! Letters between musicians talking about how the war is affecting them and their families. Papers re internment of musicians overseas.
We have, from the Hallé Concerts Society archives, programmes from the war arranged into gorgeous little annotated notebooks from the then librarian. These show all kinds of nuances and tricky programming problems to do with the war.
From the Henry Watson Music Library, we have the notebooks of Gustav Behrens, parton to much of Manchester’s music organisations. In these he collected notices, programmes and most interestingly newspaper clippings about music making in Manchester during WW1. Full of pure gossip!
Our portable pop-up banners showing some of the most interesting stories through each collection are being designed as I type and we’re ready to put the content of those onto the wonderful digital displays at Archives+.
We’ll let you know when they’re up and about so you can nip in and see for yourself.
Still to come!
We have yet to get all the images online and will be sharing them on History Pin, too.
We have workshops that are yet to take place and we’re so excited about them.
We have yet to figure out what to do after this project ends in terms of what we want to develop. So! If you have any ideas, do get in touch!
Did one of your ancestors study at the Royal Manchester College of Music during 1910-1924? Interested in the kinds of students that came and went? Can’t book in to see the archive in person? No worries. Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Lottery players, we’ve got you covered.
On the student registers, you find the student name, ages, main study (pianoforte, singing, violin etc.), their addresses, who they were responsible to (parent, funding body etc.), their dates of entry and leaving.
You can then cross reference this with the diploma registers. These show which students attained which qualifications.
If you’re interested, you can then have a glance through the programmes of the Royal Manchester College of Music to find if they gave any performances through their time at the College. These records will tell you date of performance, what they performed and who their teacher was.
Tips and tricks for navigating the archive
The student registers are listed chronologically in order of student arrival. Check the leaving date. Then, nip over to he diploma registers and look around that leaving date for their name. These are arranged chronologically in order of when the student graduated.
For programmes, most students gave a performance at one or more of the student examination concerts. So, look for their name around the time when they graduated. They may pop up in student open practice concerts a year or two before that date as well.
That’s right! We’re back, this time with a fabulous pot of funds from the generous Heritage Lottery Fund. We’ve a new agenda and new horizons to catch. Let’s see what we’ve got planned.
Our new project developed from the evaluation of the previous one. Whilst of AHRC-funded project, “Making Music in Manchester during WWI” did what the project said it would do, there was definitely more that we could do with it.
Check it out! We’ve been published in the Manchester Region History Review. Inside is a summary article about some themes on the project written by RNCM Archivist, Heather Roberts. Browse the fabulous magazine or skip straight to the middle for our article summarising the mysteries and nuances we have been exploring.
During the First World War ‘The Belle Vue Champion Challenge Cup’, more commonly known as the ‘British Open’, and which was known colloquially amongst bandsmen as ‘Belle Vue’, was the only large national contest to keep going from 1914-1918. Each contest had a programme printed –cost 1d each, and 1 ½ d by post – that held the names and addresses of all contesting bandsmen. (A downloadable copy is in the link shown above.) These programmes are an important and overlooked source for genealogists. There are, however, several anomalies in this list that need to be examined, not only because of the need for accuracy for the family-history researcher, but also because they shed light on interesting aspects of musical networks as social history. Continue reading “The Belle Vue Brass Band Contest, 1914: Bandsmen, Contests, Genealogy & Social Networks”→
The article featured here was written by Sydney H. Nicholson, organist of Manchester Cathedral and the Hon. Secretary of the Committee for Music in War-time (Northern section). Dated October 1918 it neatly sums up the musical situation in the Manchester area throughout the war, as viewed and organised by the Committee. The “Northern effort” in this case appears to be confined to a 20 miles radius of Manchester.
The article was published in the Musical Herald but we found it initially in one of the many volumes of Frederick Dawson’s press cuttings books. Frederick Dawson was a concert pianist, based in the Manchester area, who travelled far and wide, but particularly in the north of England and gave unstintingly of his time and talent to charity concerts during the war. Known by his strap-line as ‘England’s greatest pianist’, he kept all his reviews (plus other interesting articles like this one) which mention him, providing a narrative of his career and other musical activities in the context of the war.
Frederick Dawson is mentioned by Nicholson in this article as having a decisive influence on the success of the Tuesday mid-day concerts. Nicholson also rightly recognised that the Tuesday concerts would be the permanent legacy to Manchester musicians “[doing] their bit” to brighten the lives of both civilians and wounded soldiers during the war.
If you haven’t been to the Manchester District Music Archive website, then you must absolutely nip over. Share some of your Manchester music history whilst you’re there and you should definitely have a look at the RNCM Archive’s account. In fact, there’s one particular online exhibition that may interest you…