Books become music: a century of music score covers
|Image: Early twentieth century music scores, 1900 – 1930s.|
The first music score collection in a public library in
Australasia was established in 1928, after Auckland Public Library’s chief
librarian John Barr and Auckland Councillor Alfred Eady (whose father Lewis
owned a music shop on Karangahape Road) worked together to form a base collection of 1,181 items. This has grown to over 33,000 items, the majority of
which are held at the Central City Library and are available to be borrowed.
Sheet music or music scores are typically volumes of musical notation used by musicians to record, guide, or perform a piece of music, existing in a range of formats. While Western classical music makes up the bulk of this collection, it also includes music of many genres, and from around the world.
|Image: In the 1940s and 1950s a trend in hand drawn illustrations
appears in these stand out covers|
My interest in is in the way the collection’s materiality, particularly the captivating cover designs and library markings, give expression to a unique, specialized yet accessible library resource. As a collection of books with a distinctive purpose, the covers are a vehicle for overt aesthetic expression, whether through illustration, typography, patterns, graphics, or photography.
|Image: Photography, abstraction, and a strong typographic style
can be seen throughout score covers from the 1960s and 1970s.
As well as showing changing trends in graphic design, these scores tell unique stories which tend to get lost in more frequently updated or generalised collections.
For example, multiple strikingly bound volumes stood out amongst the other spines on the shelves. On closer inspection these distinctive covers, whilst neither uniform nor consistent, were all published around the same time (1970s) and had a similarly aged look covered with patterned, decorative paper. After talking with Auckland Libraries Senior Music Librarian, Marilyn Portman, and Senior Conservation Bookbinder, Tony Owen, about their history, I learnt that they were not bound in-house but were from UK based music publisher Cramer Music Limited. Peter Maxwell, with whom I corresponded from Cramer Music, remembers these distinctive covers from when he first started at the company back in the 1970s:
The paper used would simply have been whatever the binders had got from their paper merchants at the time. I regret neither us nor the factory would have details on that now. Some papers selected were quite striking but a mixed bag for which we had no input in choice. These volumes were part of my job when I joined the company back in the 70’s handling all the binding requirements for libraries, a full-time job back then! We used to keep a limited stock of these. All change now of course and much better to have real collected editions from publishers. Apart from being library suppliers we are publishers and there has been a lot of change with range of papers available with paper mills closing and particular lines being discontinued which was a great shame.”
|Image: The diverseness of
music scores from 1980s-1990s|
Author: Melanie Kung, Senior Library Assistant Research
References and endnotes
Auckland Libraries Senior Music Librarian, Marilyn Portman, Senior Conservation Bookbinder, Tony Owen, and Research Librarian, Leanne Radojkovich.A musical trinity: Mr Chipp, Mr Bennett and Mr Mendelssohn
1900 – 1930s
From delicate illustrations to bolder graphic illustration can be seen in scores from the 1900-1930s:
Lennox Berkeley. Three piano pieces. Norfolk, England: Galliard, 1937.
Walter Carroll. Forest fantasies: nine miniatures for pianoforte. London, England: Forsyth Bros, 1916.
Ethelbert Nevin. En Passant 4 Pieces for the pianoforte, op.30, 1909.
1940 – 1950s
In the 1940s and 1950s a trend in hand drawn illustrations appears in these stand out covers.
Joan Last. Facts & fancies the second book of music makers: for piano. Manchester, England: Forsyth, 1942.
Bedřich Smetana. Branibori V Cechach (V.S.), 1946.
Francis Poulenc. Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant: pour récitant et piano. London, England: J & W Chester, 1949.
Junior song book 1957. New Zealand Broadcasting Service: Department of Education, 1958.
1960 – 1970s
Photography, abstraction, and a strong typographic style can be seen throughout score covers from the 1960s and 1970s.
Clockwise from top left:
Sergey Prokofiev. Four orchestral works selected and edited by Lewis Roth. New York, USA: Dover, 1974.
Junior Mance. How to play blues piano. Toronto, Canada: Ray Brown Music, 1967.
Makoto Shinohara. Fragmente; for tenor recorder 1968, 1974.
Harry Taussig. Folk style autoharp, 1972.
Arthur Bliss. Triptych: for piano, 1972.
José de Azpiazu. Guitare; pieces faciles. Ier cahier, 1967.
Orlando Gibbons. A selection of short dances, 1960.
Arnold Cooke. Quintet for clarinet and string quartet, 1963.
Nicholas Maw. Chamber music, 1964.
Kenneth Leighton. Passacaglia, Chorale & Fugue for orchestra, op.18 (miniature), 1961.
Jacques Charpentier. Shiva Nataraja; symphonie no.3, pour grand orchestra, 1973.
Richard Dering. The cries of London, 1964.
Vincent Novello. Select organ pieces from …classical composers of the Germand & Italian schools, 19--?Unique library markings and processing
Hans Seeling. Loreley: Charakterstück, Opus 2, für Pianoforte. Leipzig, Germany: C.F. Peters,19--.
Bela Bartok. Allegro Barbaro fur klavier zu zwei handen, 1918.
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Pianoforte works. London, England: Augener, 19--?.
Jean Francaix. Concertino pour piano et orchestra; 2 pianos, 1935.
Carl Czerny. Toccata fur pianoforte, op. 92, 19-?
1980 – 1990s
Vivid colours with simple layouts mark these scores from the recent past:
Clockwise from top left:
Tu'imala Kaho. Songs of love. Nuku'alofa, Tonga: Vava'u Press, 1988.
Claude Debussy. Children's corner. Mainz, Germany: Urtext Edition, c1983.
Cajun dance hall special: accordion edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Rounder Records, c1995.
Colin Cowles arr. Jamaican gems: for variable wind/brass ensemble. Corby, England: Fentone Music, c1999.
Series / multiples
Jenny McLeod. Through the world: mezzo-soprano and piano. Wellington: Waiteata Music Press, c1995.
John Rimmer. De aestibus rerum: clarinet, horn, violin, cello, piano. Wellington: Wai-te-ata Press, 1988.
Edwin Carr. Symphony. Wellington: Wai-te-ata Press, 1983.
Douglas Lilburn. Wind quintet. Wellington: Wai-te-ata Press, 1983.
Penguin miniature scores
Richard Wagner. Siegfried Idyll with a biographical note by Dyneley Hussey and an introduction by Gordon Jacob. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, c1951.
Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. Fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet with a biographical note by Gerald Abraham and an introduction by Gordon Jacob. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, c1951.
Cesar Franck. Symphonic variations for piano and orchestra with an intro by Gordon Jacob. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1954.