Archives and Music Documentation Centres Branch

By Erviti, Manual | Fontes Artis Musicae, October-December 2011 | Go to article overview

Archives and Music Documentation Centres Branch


Erviti, Manual, Fontes Artis Musicae


The Archives and Music Documentation Centres Branch held two sessions during the IAML conference in Dublin. On 26 July 2011 a session entitled Access to Archival Collections opened with "Finding the Right Tune: Data Protection, Freedom of Information and Access to Archival Music Collections," a paper by Ramona Riedzewski of Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Riedzewski noted that legislation covering Data Protection (DP) and Freedom of Information (FOI) is, in some form or another, enacted in over 100 countries worldwide. Legislation in the UK from 1998 intends to encourage openness of publically funded institutions while protecting personal and sensitive data identifying a living individual. DP generally does not feature very highly on most researchers' minds when they are wishing to access archival collections and thus presents major challenges for many archivists. Using the example of the Arts Council of Great Britain (ACGB) Archive (1928-1997), a large 1.6 linear km mass of material held by the Victoria and Albert Museum and acquired before DP and FOI legislation, Riedzewski delineated the impact of such legislation on archive repositories. Requests for music department materials in the ACGB Archive that are less than 30 years old are forwarded to the Arts Council of England with restrictions applied to reviews and internal documentation. Applications are often complex and time-consuming to navigate and requirements result in a long process in which staff is worried about granting access to the wrong information and the public is confused with the unfamiliar requirements. The right balance between granting researchers access to archival material and legislative requirements is difficult to maintain.

Sandra Tuppen of the British Library, London followed with a presentation entitled "Unlocking the Wandering Minstrels Archive: A Case Study in Creating a Database of Performances." The Wandering Minstrels was an orchestra of noblemen and gentlemen that gave hundreds of private concerts in London and charity concerts across England between 1860 and 1898. Tuppen observed that surviving scrapbooks of photographs, press cuttings, concert programmes, letters and drawings relating to the Minstrels, including three encased volumes and other materials now preserved at the British Library, allow the orchestra's concert-giving history to be reconstructed in great detail, much of it from financial and travel documents. The collection is remarkable for the large number of concert programmes associated with one society. After presenting the description of the collection, accompanied by a selection of projected images, Tuppen delineated some of the challenges faced in creating a database of the orchestra's performances. She focused on issues of authority control of the indexed terms, and showed slides of the FRBR model and its usefulness in documenting musical performances (e.g., work, expression, manifestation), and at the potential offered by external linked data. Following the presentation and visit to the website currently under development, http://wanderingminstrels.org/, questions focused on whether authority control was used for the six document types in the sample data displayed.

The first session closed with Adele Commins of Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland presenting an introduction to a major collection of material available for the study of composer Charles Villiers Stanford (18521924), a paper entitled "In Stanford's Hand: The Manuscript Collection of Charles Villiers Stanford at the Robinson Library, Newcastle University." Born in Ireland, Stanford was one of the most prolific composers of his generation and one of the leading figures in the English Musical Renaissance. Noted for his commitment to the teaching of composition through his positions as Professor of Music at both Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music London, Stanford remained active as a composer throughout his lifetime with an output of nearly two hundred works.

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