One thousand years of British Choral tradition celebrated at the Bodleian Library

1 Decemebr 2008

MS._Lat._liturg._d._20,_fols._15v-16r_webThe Bodleian winter exhibition 2008-09, Hallelujah: the British Choral Tradition, surveys the history of choral music in Britain from Middle Ages to the present day and its extraordinary contribution to our shared cultural heritage. 

The exhibition includes a wide range of music masterpieces and features a number of manuscripts written by the composer’s own hand. It also celebrates four composers with anniversaries in 2009 – Purcell, Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn, all of whom made major contributions to the British choral scene.

The exhibition will feature many of the Bodleian’s Musical highlights including autographs of Mendelssohn (Elijah), Elgar (The Kingdom), Vaughan Williams (An Oxford Elegy), Purcell (St Cecilia’s Day Ode) and Walton. Other famous music manuscripts, such as Handel’s conducting score of Messiah, the beautiful 11th-century Winchester Troper, and16th-century partbooks containing John Taverner’s masses, will be on display. These will be complemented by a number of notable loans from other institutions including the famous Choirbook from Eton College, and autographs of Britten’s War Requiem and Tippett’s A Child of Our Time from the British Library.

Besides dealing with the music itself, the exhibition also features the performing institutions involved such as local choral foundations and choral societies, choral societies in Britain, Oxford choral societies in particular, and the Oxford and Cambridge choral foundations.

There are also sections devoted to particular themes such choral music publishing, the tonic solfa movement, and music festivals. One case in particular features Coronation music through the ages, including the autograph score of Hubert Parry’s I was glad.

Richard Ovenden, Keeper of Special Collections and Associate Director, Bodleian Library, said: ‘The Bodleian has been collecting music material for centuries  Through supporting scholarship in Oxford’s world-class Music Faculty and through supporting the rich music performance scene in and around Oxford, the Library has made a major impact on the British choral music scene. We are delighted to showcase this contribution in this exhibition.’

The Bodleian’s Music collections includes about 500,000 items of printed music, 45,000 books and periodicals, 3,500 manuscripts and 1,000 microfilms, making it the second largest research library for music in the UK. Apart from natural strengths in British music from the medieval period onwards, its collections cover music and its literature from many parts of the world.

Opening hours

Monday to Friday:
9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

9.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Exhibition Room
Old Schools Quadrangle
Catte Street

28 Novemebr 2008 to 25 April 2009

Admission is free.

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