The RCM library contains a wealth of material.
Click on the links below to search its collections and catalogues.
Postcards Set 2
1. BACH J S Bach’s signature on a receipt for payment for the loan of a harpsichord
Leipzig, 5 November 1747
Similar receipts exist elsewhere for the months of October and December 1747, revealing that Bach’s pupil, Eugen Wenzel, the Count of Wrbna, rented a harpsichord on an ongoing basis for one thaler, eight groschen per month.
RCM MS 4052
2. BRIDGE Love went a-riding.
Autograph manuscript, 1914
Frank Bridge (born 1879) was one of the many talented composers of his generation to study at the RCM with Charles Stanford. For many years he was active as both a professional viola player and composer and wrote his setting of Mary Coleridge’s ‘Love went a-riding’ in 1914.
RCM Frank Bridge Bequest
3. COLERIDGE-TAYLOR Clarinet Quintet in F sharp minor, op 10
Autograph manuscript, 1895
Written as a composition exercise for Charles Stanford when its composer was a twenty year-old RCM student, Coleridge-Taylor’s Clarinet Quintet received a glowing review after its first performance on 10 July 1895: ‘There is little or nothing in Mr Taylor’s Quintet to betray the fact that he is still in ‘pupillaris’. His is, indeed, an achievement, not merely promise’.
RCM MS 5009
4. WALFORD DAVIES Solemn Melody
Autograph manuscript, 1908
To commemorate the tercentenary of the birth of John Milton in 1908 Walford Davies composed a setting of his Ode on Time to which, as an afterthought, he added a prelude for strings and organ – the well-known Solemn Melody.
RCM MS 6327
5. ELGAR Hand-drawn map illustrating directions to Brinkwells Cottage, 1921
From 1917, Brinkwells Cottage was Elgar's retreat in Sussex and it was there that his late works including the Cello Concerto were composed. In 1921 he wrote to his friend W H Reed with arrangements for a forthcoming visit, including this watercolour map.
RCM CPH collection.
6. GLAZUNOV Letter to Charles Stanford, 22 April 1921
Autograph manuscript, 1921
Opening bars of a piano version of Glazunov’s Fantasia for two pianos, included in a letter in French in which Glazunov describes the difficult and isolated situation in Petrograd (St Petersburg). He posted in the letter three days later in Tallinn, better to ensure its safe delivery to Stanford.
RCM MS 4253 (146)
7. HAYDN March from Act I of the opera Armida
Armida is the last work which Haydn wrote for Prince Esterházy. Only the march in the opera includes clarinets, which may have been played by musicians on stage.
RCM MS 276
8. HOROVITZ Rumpole of the Bailey
Autograph manuscript, May 1977
Joseph Horovitz's opening theme music for the long-running television series by John Mortimer, commissioned by the original producer Irene Shubik in May 1977.
9. HOWELLS A Spotless Rose for SATB
Autograph manuscript, 1918
Herbert Howells’ carol-anthem was written in 1918, after the composer had been ‘idly watching some shunting from the window of a cottage … in Gloucester ’, though its serene beauty is far removed from the sight and sound of ‘shunting trucks bumping and banging’. The copyright declaration and other markings show the autograph manuscript to have been the Stichvorlage – the manuscript from which the published score was engraved.
RCM MS 7377
10. JENKINS Ayres for two bass viols and organ
One of the foremost composers of his day for the viol, over 800 of his instrumental works survive in various sources, including these Ayres. His prolific output may have been due in some part to the lifestyle reported by Roger North: he “past his time at Gentlemen’s houses in the country”
RCM MS 921
11. MENDELSSOHN Der ersten Liebe Verlust
Autograph manuscript, 1832
Mendelssohn had become acquainted with the Horsley family of Kensington Gravel Pits (now Notting Hill Gate) during his first visit to London in 1829, and on his return in 1832 inscribed this manuscript of Der ersten Liebe Verlust ‘to Mrs. Horsley with his thanks London 20th June 32’. The song was published in 1833 (as Das erste Veilchen) in his Sechs Gesänge, op 19a.
RCM MS 2197
12. SIMPSON Chelys / The Division Viol, 1659 and 1665
Christopher Simpson is considered one of the most important English writers on music of his time. The popularity of The Division Viol led to a reprint in 1665. The later edition did not include the hat previously illustrated, perhaps a nod in the direction of prevalent political attitudes.