Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Thursday, 22 June 2017

What Goes on in a Music Cataloguer's Head?

This week, the library was gifted a copy of The Scottish Orpheus edited by Adam Hamilton.  As with any donations, the first question we ask, is whether we've already got it?  We have - but not this edition.  We hadn't even heard of the editor, Adam Hamilton before! Not a problem - David Baptie's Musical Scotland dictionary usually comes up trumps, and it did again today:- 

Hamilton first published his The Scottish Orpheus around 1865 - it was published in Edinburgh by "Hamilton & Müller".  By the turn of the century (around 1897), it was being published in Edinburgh and London by Paterson - and that's the edition we've just been gifted.  It looks a competent collection.  There are no editorial notes ("paratext"), just a title-page and a contents page, and unlike some other collections of this era, there's no sol-fa, just normal music notation.

By 1922 it was published with the intention of being in in more than one volume, by J. Michael Diack - we already have Vol.1.  The contents are a little different, and Diack's edition contains a few more Scotticisms in the text.  It has also gone down from 215 to 159 pages, probably because he intended to publish a subsequent volume.

But that's not the end of the story.  There's no trace of a Scottish Orpheus vol.2, but Diack went on to publish a New Scottish Orpheus in three volumes, ca.1922-1937.   It must have been a commercially viable product - or at least, certainly worth keeping the title and updating the contents and arrangements!

Meanwhile, our new gift has been catalogued (and all the contents indexed, titles and first lines and all - phew!) and it'll go in our Special Collections.

Our catalogue system will be changing in July 2017. Until then, you can see the catalogue entry for Hamilton's Scottish Orpheus here.  (We'll post the link to the new catalogue nearer the time.)

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