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Old sheet music and Musical Revue

Will Fly 10 Jul 13 - 03:39 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 10 Jul 13 - 08:15 AM
Will Fly 10 Jul 13 - 08:20 AM
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Subject: Old sheet music and Musical Revue
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Jul 13 - 03:39 AM

This is a double-header of a post, so I'll start with the first head.

A musician friend down here in Sussex recently offered me an archive of over 2,500 pieces of sheet music ranging in date from the 1880s to the early 1960s. The music had been the property of a professional pianist and had been given to my friend. When I was offered it, I think it took me about 2 seconds to say, "Yes please!" and I'm glad I did. It's a great collection of popular music, piano selections and vocal selections from musicals, Victorian and Edwardian pieces from the likes of Albert Ketelbey, music-hall material and musical revue. Much of it has been indexed, but I'm going through the whole lot at the moment to top and tail the data with composer and date information. When completed, I'll make the index available here and on other sites.

Musical revue has a particularly soft spot in my heart. It's a genre and a period that doesn't get much of an airing these days. It was a style of entertainment that sat somewhere between the earlier music-hall and the later variety, and flourished in the years around WW1. Whereas musical-hall and variety consisted of a series of "turns" in ascending order of eminence, musical revue consisted of a troupe of artistes who, together, would perform sketches and songs as solos or duets or trios, normally ending with the whole company doing something together. I suppose the nearest modern equivalent to it would be something like the Cambridge Footlights, but many stars of the '30s and '40s - people like Noel Coward, Gertrude Lawrence and Bea Lillie - got their start in revue. One of the main promoters of the period was the Parisian impresario André Charlot, and to be in "the latest Charlot Revue" was an honour.

I'm reminded of revue by some of the charming songs in the sheet music collection, and I've spent many happy hours already (with many more to come), going through it all.

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Subject: RE: Old sheet music and Musical Revue
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 10 Jul 13 - 08:15 AM

One thing I've bemoaned a few times is the lack of a British equivalent of the Levy sheet music collection (or several of the US universities for that matter). Although there are some British sheets in the collections (and many songs were issued both sides of the pond), they naturally have a US bias. It would be nice if there was a site biased towards sheet music issued in the UK.


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Subject: RE: Old sheet music and Musical Revue
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Jul 13 - 08:20 AM

I'll say 'amen' to that, Mick. I've used the Levy collection on many occasions, plus other (mainly American) online collections. I've even had an American University library send me a scan of an obscure handwritten music MSS to use in a play recently. But there is no UK equivalent to Levy.

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