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In 1837, Ernest Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland and fifth son of George III, King of Great Britain, became King of Hanover, Germany, moving to Hanover and taking with him part of the royal family’s household music library.   In 2007, Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library acquired this collection of music assembled by Ernest Augustus and his successors, which builds on the Library’s tremendous holdings for early modern British political and popular culture.  Offering insight into the musical life of an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century household and court in Britain and Germany, the Hanover Royal Music Archive also captures a particular historical moment in Great Britain, in which ideas of monarchy were musically articulated within a royal household with its own unique perspective on what it meant to represent a nation. “God Save the King: Music from the British Royal Court, 1770-1837” explores these intersections of the private and the patriotic in an exhibition on view at the Beinecke from October – December, 2010, and accompanied by an online exhibition gallery.

 The collection reveals the musical life of the royal family, both at court and within the household.   Many of London’s leading musicians were employed at the court of George III,  most prominently Johann Christian Bach, who served as music master to Queen Charlotte.  Music also formed part of the education of the six daughters of George and Charlotte, Princesses Royal, Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary, Sophia, and Amelia.  Princess Augusta, who remained inLondonthrough adulthood, continued to acquire music and offer patronage to musicians.  As Duke of Cumberland, Ernest Augustus employed a private band, and his son Prince George of Cumberland, later King Georg V ofHanover, composed and wrote about music.   The Hanover Royal Music Archive documents these many interests through volumes of manuscript exercises, songs, and keyboard music for use by the royal children; sets of parts used by orchestra, band, and chamber ensembles in performance; music with presentation bindings, inscriptions, or accompanying letters from composers seeking patronage; and books about music theory, history, and instruction.  Drawing from materials that originated inEngland, the present exhibition examines the complex musical lives, both political and private, of the family of George III, circa 1770-1837. 

 The Hanover Royal Music Archive contains the work of a wide range of major and lesser-known composers active inEngland,Germany, and elsewhere inEuropefrom the eighteenth through the mid-nineteenth century.  All of the most important musical genres of the period are represented, with concentrations in song, national songs ofGreat Britain, opera in vocal score, keyboard and chamber music, music for band ensembles, and marches, waltzes, and other social dance.  In addition to hundreds of individual publications and manuscripts, twenty-four manuscript music books and thirty-eight bound volumes of printed music, kept by Queen Charlotte, Princess Augusta, and other family members, offer evidence of  musical study and performance by royal amateurs.  Of particular interest is music used in performance by the Duke of Cumberland’s private band, an apparently intact group of more than two hundred sets of parts for wind band, orchestra, and chamber ensembles. 

 Music of major composers includes two autograph manuscripts of Johann Christian Bach, first editions of published music by Bach, Charles Frederick Horn, Carl Friedrich Abel, and other composers employed by the royal family; first editions of orchestral parts for several of Haydn’s London Symphonies, with manuscript performance markings; and a set of manuscript parts made by a copyist, circa 1804, for Beethoven’s Symphony no. 1.  Other first or early editions are present for keyboard and chamber music of Clementi, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven; operas of Mozart, Weber and Rossini; and keyboard arrangements of dance music of Johann Strauss, Sr.  Materials originating inEnglandare related to the British Library’s Royal Music Library of Great Britain, and may be found to fill gaps in that larger collection.  Research strengths of the Hanover Archive include: Johann Christian Bach and his circle; other individual composers and their published and unpublished work; music in the royal courts of Great Britain and Hanover; members of the royal family; composition, music education, professional and amateur performance, and employment of musicians in England and Germany; and manuscript copying, music printing, binding practices, and the music trade.

  The Hanover Royal Music Archive illustrates the many patriotic identities in musical circulation in Britain from the mid-eighteenth through the early nineteenth century, whether in the rehearsing of military glories in Charles Frederick Horn’s “Trafalgar: An Heroic Song” of 1805 or in more prosaically British works, such as the copy of “A Selection of Popular National Airs with Symphonies and Accompaniments,” signed by Princess Augusta. “God save the King” recurs as an anthem, in manuscript and print, throughout the collection.  It was performed for the King’s Jubilee in 1809, as it was in London theatres during the Jacobite rebellions of 1745-1746.  But as the second verse of the King’s Jubilee hymn hints—“His peoples Liberties, He fully knows to prize; Our Rights and Laws”—the anthem was also a politically charged territory, often reclaimed by satirists and social critics in public performances and print.  

 But while it might be a political collection, mirroring popular patriotism and its discontents in the Hanover royal family’s reign, the archive was also always part of a household music library.  The public and the private intertwine throughout the collection: fingering annotations survive in manuscript music books, by figures who were at once tutor and student, court composer and princess; a set of marches, in manuscript, commemorate the troops of the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of York, the “Slow March 3d Guard” and “Quick Step of the Royals.” It is this complexity, in its mixture of private and public, print and manuscript, popular and court compositions, that will make the Hanover Royal Music Archive a compelling resource for scholarship in the social history of music, and its status as a form of British national literature in eighteenth and early nineteenth century Britain.


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