Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

From Whittaker to the Library and Beyond!

A Symphonic Tale

Once upon a time, Brahms wrote a symphony - his first, as it happens. Later on, Simrock publishers in Berlin produced a piano duet version - these were all the rage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of our early Principals, William Gillies Whittaker, later bought a copy and signed it.
Eventually, he gifted it to the library of the Scottish National Academy of Music.In the early days, the janitors had time to catalogue the music and add it to stock,giving each item a shelf,  box and item number so it could be found again. 
Well, as time went by, the college acquired a drama school, and more and more staff and students. In 1987, the Royal Scottish Academy of Drama moved from the Athenaeum building (in what is now Nelson Mandela Place) to Renfrew Street, and eventually the score was recatalogued with a new shelf-number. By this stage we were using a standardized classification scheme, so "M209 B" meant the score would sit alongside other symphonic duet arrangements.  And then it got a barcode when we computerised the issue system back in the 1990s.
In its new guise, the score got well used, and grew gracefully and then disgracefully old. Today it reached the end of its life. We discovered there's a nice new Urtext Henle edition, which will enable today's pianists to go on enjoying playing Brahms's First Symphony, op.68, in C minor.  Before too long, there will be another entry in our catalogue. And the old one can rest in pieces! 

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