I’ve been asked to write something for From Beyond the Stave. But being doggedly lowtech in most things (I never use Powerpoint, for example, but stick with transparencies whenever I lecture), I’ve been humming and hah-ing about it for several months. But I’ve promised I’ll write something, and since the Boydell Blog seems to favour the anecdotal (those are the bits of the Blog I myself enjoy the most), I’ll oblige with something anecdotal of my own.
When I was a student back in
Part of my job was to locate the archives of composers and musicians and convince them or their heirs to donate them to my library (we never paid a penny, on principle, yet we still managed to get 106 archives in ten years). There were depressing occasions – such as when I found the heirs of a man who’d been a major concert pianist before the First World War and had written some spectacular music, only to find that they’d thrown out his diaries two weeks before. But then there were wonderful occasions such as when I visited the widow of Paul Kletzki in
One of the other real discoveries, however, was a Wagnerian one. I was visiting the daughter of a little-known late-Romantic Swiss composer and her husband with a view to our library acquiring her father’s archives. We had discussed everything, it was all decided, then just as we were leaving for lunch, she said “I’ve got a score that my mother picked up at auction fifty years ago, perhaps it might interest you as well”, and at that put before me a full score of Wagner’s Die Walküre. The score was in a script unknown to me, but the title page was unmistakeably in Wagner’s own hand. Another hand had scrawled a number at the bottom of the title page that I realized had to be the plate number of the full score as first printed by Schott in
A quick look through the books and a phone call to the Wagner Edition in