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Title page of a collection of musical scores ;

Carnegie Collection of British Music

18 May 2020

The Carnegie Collection of British Music at King's College London consists of some 60 musical scores which are held by the Library on permanent loan by the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. The collection was formed as a result of a scheme for the publication of musical compositions inaugurated by the Trust in 1917

The Blue Peter.

The object of the scheme was "to encourage British Composers in the practice of their art". This took the form of an annual competition whereby composers of British parentage and nationality were invited to submit their original compositions which had never before been published. Each year the Trustees would choose between one and six works which they felt constituted "the most valuable contributions to the art of music".

The composers whose works were chosen in any one year would have the satisfaction of seeing their works published for the first time, at the Trust's expense, and were also permitted to keep any royalties from sales, as copyright would be secured in the composer's name.

Works were published by Stainer & Bell, who kept the plates and later reissued many works, but with the distinctive title page and cover of the Carnegie Collection of British Music. The collection deposited at King's, which includes a copy of every item published under the scheme, represents an important document of the wealth and variety of British music being produced at the beginning of the twentieth century and also contains a number of rare and little-known works for which the edition produced by the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust was the only version ever published.

A London symphony.

Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) is famed both as the "Steel King of America" and as a philanthropist. He was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, but emigrated to the United States in 1848, and eventually, through his establishment of the Carnegie Steel Company, became a millionaire. He strongly believed that the rich had a responsibility to distribute their wealth for the benefit of society and thus began a programme of funding public libraries, schools and colleges and other public buildings both in Scotland and America, through the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust.

From its founding in 1913, the Trust was involved in a wide range of charitable projects, the best known of which was probably the founding of over 2,800 libraries in Britain, United States and elsewhere. These included the public library of Dunfermline, Carnegie's home town, in 1881, and those in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Carnegie was also a keen music lover, giving his name to Carnegie Hall, New York in 1890. The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust was also involved in the restoration of some 3,500 church organs throughout the British Isles.

In addition, the Trust had a role in the development of government public policy, particularly that relating to public health and welfare, through supporting important research and the publication of reports. The Trust continues to support a range of projects in the fields of the arts, heritage and social welfare.

Scope of the scheme

The scheme to encourage British composers through the publication of new musical compositions was restricted to the five areas of chamber music for three or more instruments, concerti for one or more instruments with orchestra, choral works accompanied by large or small orchestras, symphonies or other large-scale orchestral works and operas or musical dramas including incidental music to plays. The emphasis was on works which the Trustees felt would make a significant contribution to the field of British music.

This is reflected in the collection deposited at King's which ranges from symphonies by Edgar Bainton, Granville Bantock and Ralph Vaughan Williams and operas by Thomas Dunhill, Cecil Armstrong Gibbs, William H. Harris and Charles Villiers Stanford, to string quartets by George Dyson and Herbert Howells and song cycles and choral works by Ivor Gurney and Gustav Holst respectively.

Key figures of twentieth century British music are represented alongside lesser-known figures such as Rutland Boughton, Learmont Drysdale, Nicholas Gatty and Percy Hilder Miles. Although some of the works present, such as Frank Bridge's suite for orchestra The Sea , Holst's Hymn to Jesus, Vaughan Williams's A London Symphony and Peter Warlock's The Curlew remain in the repertoire, many more have become unfashionable and are now forgotten. These may well repay further attention as interest in early twentieth century British music increases.

Of particular interest is The Immortal Hour, a setting of texts by the poet and playwright William Sharp writing under the pseudonym Fiona Macleod, by the socialist musician Rutland Boughton. Premiered at the first Glastonbury Festival in 1914, the work was performed over 300 times in the 1920s and 30s in Birmingham and London, and has recently been recorded on the Hyperion label. Another socialist composer was Alan Bush, Communist party member and founder of the Workers' Music Association in 1936. His String Quartet in A minor, which won a Carnegie award in 1924, marked the start of a prolific and successful composing career. However it is possible that his work is today overlooked due to his political associations.

Other better-known composers are represented in the Carnegie Collection of British Music by one or two early works. Gerald Finzi's Severn Rhapsody of 1924, which he later withdrew, Herbert Howells' Quartet in A minor for piano and strings of 1918, and William Walton's early String Quartet (1924, also withdrawn) fall into this category. In reflection of Andrew Carnegie's Scottish heritage, Celtic themes abound through the music of Scottish composers Learmont Drysdale, Jeffrey Mark and John McEwen, and in works such as Granville Bantock's Hebridean Symphony and Stanley Wilson's A Skye Symphony.

Regional idioms, as typified in the music of Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst, also proved to be a popular theme, as seen in W.G. Whittaker's A Lyke-Wake Dirge and Among the Northumbrian Hills, Ernest Farrar's English Pastoral Impressions and Gerald Finzi's aforementioned Severn Rhapsody. The little-known Irish composer Ina Boyle is the only female musician represented in the collection.

Many of the scores in the collection are signed by the composer, often with inscriptions testifying to his or her gratitude to the Trust for enabling the work to be printed for the first time, making the scores of particular historical interest. The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust has generously supported the cataloguing and conservation of the collection placed on permanent loan at King's.

Using Library Search

Records from all collections are available through King's Library Search.

Being signed in to Library Search gives the best functionality for searching and the homepage gives advice on how to narrow down your searches by using scopes and by filtering searches you have made. For full instructions please see both the Library Search homepage and also our 'Catalogues' webpage, available by scrolling down to the menu on the Special Collections homepage.

Using scopes

You can limit your search to Foyle Special Collections Library items by using scopes.

If you select the ‘Library Resources’ scope, only the print and ebooks, audiovisual material and journals held by the campus libraries and Foyle Special Collections Library will be retrieved in your searches

Using filters

For finding material related to specific collections or former owners, use the ‘Library Resources’ scope in the drop down menu and then filter by ‘Former owner’ in the Advanced search criteria to display records from a specific collection.

You can also use the Location drop down menu on the left hand side of the screen to identify items from specific named special collections.

Please do contact us for further advice on identifying material which will assist you with your studies.

Links to resources on Andrew Carnegie

Carnegie United Kingdom Trust website

Andrew Carnegie website, including history of Carnegie Libraries and Andrew Carnegie photo album

Andrew Carnegie birthplace

Links to resources on some of the composers

Edgar Bainton (1880-1956):

The Edgar Bainton (UK) Society on Music Web

Granville Bantock (1868-1946):

The Bantock Society

Arthur Bliss (1891-1975):

Official Arthur Bliss site, hosted by Cambridge University Library

Arthur Bliss repertoire list available from Chester-Novello

Ina Boyle (1889-1967):

Ina Boyle

Frank Bridge (1879-1941):

Frank Bridge

Alan Bush (1900-1995):

Alan Bush Music Trust

Learmont Drysdale (1866-1909):

Drysdale Collection at Glasgow University Library

Gerald Finzi (1901-1956):

Gerald Finzi article on Music Web

Nicholas Gatty (1874-1946):

Yorkshire's operatic composer: Nicholas Gatty on Music Web

Cecil Armstrong Gibbs (1889-1960):

Armstrong Gibbs article on Music Web

Ivor Gurney (1890-1937):

Ivor Gurney Society website

William Henry Harris (1883-1973):

William H. Harris repertoire list available from Chester-Novello

Victor Hely-Hutchinson (1901-1947):

Victor Hely-Hutchinson: a many-sided composer by John Hely-Hutchinson

Herbert Howells (1892-1983):

Herbert Howells page

Cyril Rootham (1875-1938):

Cyril Rootham on Music Web

Alec Rowley (1892-1958):

Alec Rowley repertoire list available from Chester-Novello

Cyril Scott (1879-1970):

Cyril Scott repertoire list available from Chester-Novello

Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924):

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford on Classical Net

Charles Villiers Stanford article on the Stainer & Bell site

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958):

The RVW Society

William Walton (1902-1983):


Peter Warlock (1894-1930):

The Peter Warlock Society

Peter Warlock on Classical Net

Stanley Wilson (d. 1953):

Stanley Wilson, Suffolk composer: an interim note (second article) on Unknown composers page


Further information about 20th-century music can be obtained from the

British Music Information Centre

New resource relating to early printed music:

The Early Music Online project has digitised more than 300 books of the world’s earliest printed music from holdings at the British Library.

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