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Archives subject guide: Music

An introduction to music-related resources at McMaster Archives and Research Collections

William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections Hours

Please request an appointment using the following link: Research Collections Materials Request Form.

The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections
Mills Memorial Library
Lower Level, LB 101
1280 Main St. W.
Hamilton, ON L8S 4L6
Archives@mcmaster.ca
905-525-9140 ext. 22789

Hours: Monday to Friday 10-4


Bertrand Russell Archives
88 Forsyth Ave N.
Hamilton, ON L8S 4E4
Russarch@mcmaster.ca
905-525-9140 ext. 24182
Hours: Monday to Thursday 1-4

Music resources at McMaster Archives and Research Collections

McMaster University Archives and Research Collections has collected sources of music history since 1978, when the library acquired a collection of letters by the composer Franz Liszt and his contemporaries. Since then, our collection has grown to include contemporary artists in genres as diverse as rock, classical, folk, and blues. 

Highlights of the collection include: 

  • Bruce Cockburn's notebooks which include song lyrics such as "Wondering Where the Lions Are (1979)" and "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" (1984).
  • The personal archives of celebrated Hamilton-based musicians, including Jackie Washington and Tom Wilson. 

  • Holographic letters written by several of the great musicians of music history, including Franz Liszt, Benjamin Britten, and Klaus Pringsheim.

Some correspondence of the poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen can be found within the McClelland and Stewart fonds. Of particular note, within correspondence related to his book of poetry Parasites of Heaven is a handwritten copy of "Suzanne." 

Music resources at McMaster Archives and Research Collections

Bruce Cockburn fonds

Bruce Cockburn (b.1945) is a Canadian singer and songwriter well-known for his humanist, poetic style combining elements of folk, jazz, rock and reggae. His recordings include Sunwheel Dance (1971), In the Falling Dark (1976), Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws (1979), Stealing Fire (1984), the singles collection Waiting for a Miracle (1987), The Charity of Night (1996), and Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu (1999). Among his signature pieces are “Goin’ to the Country,” “Musical Friends,” his 1980 hit “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” “The Trouble with Normal”, "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time.” 

The fonds includes: 32 notebooks in which Cockburn composed most of his song lyrics from 1969 to 2002; song sheets and scores; correspondence, including fan mail; awards, including gold records; promotional material, including posters; tour books; scrapbooks; photographs; a copy of each of Cockburn’s recordings; video and film items; and other material.

Papers and drawings on a black background.

May 7, 2013. A Celebration of the Bruce Cockburn Archives at McMaster University - Bruce Cockburn Gift Announcement, Convocation Hall. Photo by Ron Scheffler for McMaster University.

Daisy DeBolt fonds

Donna Marie “Daisy” DeBolt, an accomplished singer-songwriter, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on July 19, 1945. In 1965, she moved to Toronto to pursue a music career as a folk musician. She met Allen Fraser in 1968 and the two formed the musical duo Fraser & DeBolt. They released two albums: Fraser & DeBolt With Ian Guenther, in 1971, and Fraser & DeBolt With Pleasure, in 1973. DeBolt and Fraser parted ways in the mid-1970s. DeBolt continued to write and perform as a solo artist and to collaborate with other musicians and poets. Her solo works include Soulstalking (1992), Live Each Day with Soul (2002), and Lovers and Fantasies (2004), an album featuring two songs by author Michael Ondaatje.

The fonds consists of correspondence, photographs, printed and audio/visual material related to DeBolt’s life and music career. 

Ian Thomas fonds

Ian Thomas is a Canadian composer, musician, and author. He was iin Hamilton, in 1950. Thomas began working as a musician in the 1960s with his first band “Ian, Oliver, and Nora”. With the addition of a two more members they became “Tranquility Base” and performed as the Pop-Group in Residence with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Thomas briefly worked as a producer for the CBC before returning to the stage. In 1973, Ian Thomas reached national and international success with the single “Painted Ladies”, garnering a Juno (Gold Leaf) Award for Promising Male Vocalist. Over the next two decades Thomas would release over a dozen albums under his own name as well as writing hits for a number of international musicians. In 1991, he joined a number of fellow Canadian musicians in “the Boomers” and would release another four albums with them into the early 2000s. Starting in 2003, he toured both as a solo artist and with “Lunch at Allen’s”. His career has won him a number of awards recognizing his quality as a musician and as a humanitarian.  Ian Thomas has authored two books, Bequest and The Lost Chord, published by Manor House Press.

The fonds consists of correspondence, promotional materials, photographs, audio discs, realia. 

Jackie Washington fonds

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Jackie Washington (1919-2009) was the second of thirteen siblings. Washington began his musical career at age five when he started singing with The Four Washington Brothers. Before serving in World War II, he worked as a porter for Canadian Pacific Railroad. After obtaining a medical discharge from the army, Washington worked in Hamilton at the American Can Company, eventually forming a musical duo with Sonny Johnston. In 1948 Washington became Canada’s first Black disc jockey for CHML radio. His career showed continuing promise in the 1960s when the musician took full advantage of the burgeoning coffee house scene in order to establish himself as a folk musician. When folk festivals gained popularity in the 1970s, Washington became a fixture at such events as the Home County Folk Festival in London, Ontario and the Festival of Friends in Hamilton, Ontario. He recorded his first album, Blues and Sentimental, in 1976. In the late 1980s, Washington toured as part of the trio “Scarlett, Washington and Whitely,” with Mose Scarlett and Ken Whitely. He was recognized nationally and internationally for his music and was given an honorary doctoral degree by McMaster University in 2003. The Jackie Washington Rotary Park was named in his honour in 2004.

The fonds consists of extensive photographs and textual, audio and audio visual materials. It also contains realia including trophies and honours, such a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hamilton Music Awards and even some of Washington’s hats.

 

Man wearing a hat holding a guitar

Jackie Washington, Jackie Washington fonds.

Morley Calvert fonds

Morley Calvert was a conductor, bandmaster and composer. He was born in Brantford, Ontario and studied music at McGill University. He founded and was the director of the McGill University Concert Band from 1960-1970 and the director of the Lakeshore Concert Band from 1967-1972. In 1958 at Ayers, QC, he founded the Monteregian Music Camp, which offered summer training for high school students which ended in 1970. Calvert’s compositions, recordings and performances include Suite from the Monteregian Hills published in 1961; Romantic Variations (1976, 1979); and Introduction, Elegy and Caprice (1978).

The fonds consists of original scores, photographs, memorabilia, programs, correspondence, personal items and clippings.

Tom Wilson fonds

Thomas Cunningham (Tom) Wilson (b. 1959) is a Canadian rock musician and songwriter based in Hamilton. He is also an author and visual artist. At the age of 53, he learned that he was adopted and that his ancestry is Mohawk. As a musician, Wilson has a solo career and was also a founding member of The Florida Razors (1981-1987), Junkhouse (1989-1997), Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (1996 onward), and Lee Harvey Osmond (2009 onward). Collectively, they have recorded at least 18 albums. He is the author of the acclaimed memoir Beautiful Scars: Steeltown Secrets, Mohawk Skywalkers and the Road Home, published by Doubleday Canada in 2017.The first exhibition of his visual art was held at the Art Gallery of Burlington in 2018-2019.

The fonds consists of notebooks (35 items) in which Wilson recorded his thoughts, ideas for songs, draft lyrics, drawings, photographs, and two paintings by Wilson.

Alan Walker fonds

Alan Walker, Doctor of Music, F.R.S.C., university professor and writer, was born in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, England on 6 April 1930. He was educated at the Guildhall School of Music and at Durham University, where he specialized in piano, theory, harmony and counterpoint. In his early career, he lectured at the Guildhall School of Music from 1959 to 1961, and at London University from 1954 to 1970.

Walker was a producer at the British Broadcasting Corporation from 1961 to 1971, and has contributed to programmes at the BBC and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He served as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Music at City University in London from 1984 to 1987 and has been a Professor of Music at McMaster University since 1971, where he was Chairman of the Department from 1971 to 1980 and again from 1990 to 1993.

The fonds consists of material related to Alan Walker's research, recordings, and other professional activities. As well as personal material, including correspondence. The third accrual contains 30 items related to Liszt and his Circle, including 14 letters from Liszt.

Book cover text reads Fryderyk Chopin A Life and Times Alan Walker

Boris Brott fonds

Boris Brott, conductor, violinist, and producer, was born in Montreal on 14 Mar 1944, the son of renowned conductor and composer Alexander Brott and cellist Lotte (Goetzel) Brott. He studied violin with his father and performed at the age of five with the orchestra of the Les Concerts symphoniques de Montréal (Montreal Symphony Orchestra). He studied at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal and the McGill Conservatory. In 1959 he founded the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra of Montreal and led it in his conducting debut in that city. His first international success came in June 1962, when he won third prize at the Liverpool Competition. Brott has been guest conductor of symphonies and opera companies throughout Canada, Europe, the U.S., Israel, central and South America, Japan and Korea. Brott has produced, conducted, or hosted a large number of television and radio programs for the CBC, and the BBC and ITV in the UK, and recorded with various orchestras for CBC, Mercury, Pro-Arte and Sony Classical. In 2000, he conducted the Vatican premiere of Leonard Bernstein's controversial Mass before Pope John Paul II.

The fonds consists of correspondence, photographs, printed and audio-visual materials which document Brott’s life and career.

Eric Dowling fonds

Eric Dowling was born on 8 November 1907 in Sheffield, England. He was educated at the Toronto (now the Royal) Conservatory and worked at a number of churches in Ontario before he was appointed organist and choirmaster at St. George's Anglican Church in St. Catharines, a position he held for thirty-eight years. He was a member of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, serving as president from 1948-1950 and a composer of both choral and organ works. He was one of the founders of the Niagara Peninsula Centre. 

Fonds consists of correspondence, speeches, bound diary-notebooks, musical socres, photographs, and printed materials including published music, programmes, and news clippings.

 

Eric Walter White fonds

Eric Walter White (1905-1985) was a British poet and music critic. He held several positions with the Arts Council of Great Britain, serving as Literature Director for the Council from 1966 to his retirement in 1971. In 1951 White published a study of English opera called The Rise of English Opera. He then began collecting all available material on English opera, with the intention of writing a full-scale history of the subject. This volume, The History of English Opera, was published in 1983 and his working library came to McMaster University Library.

The collection includes books dating from the 18th century to the present. In addition, there are some archival materials, including correspondence by various musicians and performers, playbills, photographs, and illustrations.

Havergal Brian fonds

This collection of correspondence is consists of approximately 500 pieces of correspondence from Havergal Brian (1876-1972), a British composer, to his closest friend Granville Bantock, composer and professor of music, Birmingham University. The letters concern Brian's composiitions, Bantock's conducting of his songs, his efforts and difficulties in getting his music accepted easily as well as his personal and financial problems from 1907 to 1943. The collection also includes a few letters to H. Brian which he sent on to Bantock, and letters by Brian to others. Havergal Brian used many nicknames in writing to Granville Bantock: these include "Greatheart", "Great Boy", "Bad Boy", "BB", "Robin", "Crusoe" and "Gran" among others. 

Henry Cope Colles fonds

Henry Cope Colles (1879-1943) was an English music critic and writer. He was first assistant critic in 1905 and then chief music critic of The Times, as well as a teacher at the Royal College of Music. His books include a monograph on Brahms (1908), Symphony and Drama 1850-1900 (1934, vol. 7 of the Oxford History of Music), a biography of the English composer Walford Davies (1942), and Essays and Lectures (1945, edited by Hester Colles). He was also the general editor of the third and fourth editions of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 

These papers contain correspondence with composers, musicians, and critics (e.g. Sir Charles Parry, C.L. Graves, and A.H. Fox Strangways) and also holograph notes and essays, notebooks of music compositions, and miscellaneous material including offprints, invitations, programmes, and newsclippings. 

Herbert Menges fonds

The English conductor and composer Herbert Menges (1902-1972) studied with Vaughan Williams and others becoming the leader of the Brighton Society of Symphonic Players. This group later became the Brighton Philharmonic Society, and Menges was the conductor of its orchestra, the Southern Philharmonic. Menges' association with the Old Vic Theatre began in 1931. As its Music Director, he composed and conducted for a variety of productions. He also had guest appearances in Europe and North America, made some recordings, and was musical director of the Chichester Festival for four years in the late 1950s.

The collection contains incoming and outgoing correspondence dating from 1940 to 1966, manuscript music composed or arranged by Menges, concert programmes, notebooks, and other ephemera.

Klaus Pringsheim fonds

Klaus Pringsheim, the German conductor and composer, was born in Munich in 1883. He studied in Munich with Stavenhagen and Thuille and in Vienna with Gustav Mahler. After several years as conductor, director and music critic in Germany, he left in 1931 and transferred his activities to Japan. His work there ranged from teaching at the Ueno Academy of Music in Tokyo, to serving as director of the Tokyo Chamber Symphony Orchestra and musical advisor to the Royal Department of Fine Arts in Bangkok, Thailand. Until his death in 1973, Pringsheim was a frequent contributor to music journals while he continued his work in composition. 

The collection at McMaster consists of manuscript drafts of Pringsheim's articles, correspondence, original compositions and his sizeable personal library. This library contains a large collection of German literature as well as several hundred books by and about Richard Wagner, including many scores.

Marta Hidy fonds

Marta Iren Hidy was born in Budapest in 1927 and died in Hamilton in 2010. She began learning the violin at age three and her first concert was given at age six. Hidy began her professional career at the age of 15 by winning the prestigious Remenyi Competition as the most eminent violinist of the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. She went on to achieve international recognition as the winner of the Prague Chamber Music Competition in 1950 and the Wieniawsky Violin Competition in Poland in 1952. From 1953-1957 she was Hungarian State Soloist, during which time she appeared with orchestras in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Romania.

Hidy and her husband, Anton (Antal) Dvorak and their two small children fled Hungary during the revolution. In 1957 they immigrated to Canada, settling in Winnipeg, where Marta Hidy established the Hidy String Quartet and served from1957-65 as concertmistress of the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra, and assistant concertmistress of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She served as concert-mistress and later assistant conductor of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra from 1964-1974. She was also conductor of the Chamber Players of Toronto from 1977-1979 and from 1980-1991. In 1978 Hidy founded Trio Canada with cellist Zdenek Konicek and pianist Valerie Tryon. She also played in the McMaster String Quartet from 1978-1989. Hidy has appeared as concert soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Hamilton Philharmonic, and the Regina Symphony Orchestra. Hidy was a founding member of McMaster University’s Music Department. She began teaching violin and chamber music in 1965 and retired as Professor in 1992. Hidy has performed as guest soloist under Alexander Brott and Boris Brott.

The fonds consists of correspondence; memorabilia; photographs and graphic materials; audio-visual material; concert programmes and posters.

Valerie Tryon fonds

Valerie Tryon was born in Portsmouth, England, in 1934 to Kenneth and Iris Tryon. Her career as a concert pianist began while she was still a child. She made her first concert appearance when she was nine years old, in the Royal Hall, Harrogate. She was one of the youngest students ever to be admitted to the Royal Academy of Music, where she received the highest awards in piano playing, including the Macfarren Gold Medal and a bursary which took her to Paris for further study with the distinguished teacher Jacques Février.

Her participation in the 1956 International Liszt Piano Competition in Budapest gained for her an hors concours and brought her to the attention of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Thereafter, she appeared regularly on BBC radio, BBC television, and several times in the BBC Promenade Concerts. Her career eventually took her to North America where she has appeared in such cities as Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Washington, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Los Angeles. In 1994 the Hungarian Ministry of Culture awarded her the Ferenc Liszt Medal for her lifelong commitment to, and promotion of Liszt’s music.

The fonds consists of newspaper clippings, photographs, concert programs, and other ephemera, and sound recordings. 

Vista Productions fonds

Vista Productions was a small English recording company begun and directed by Michael Smythe (1931-1979). Most of Smyth's recordings were of organ music, although he also recorded choral music and some chamber music. Although he did issue many recordings on his own labels (Progress and subsequently Vista), many of his tapes were issued by the larger recording companies: E.M.I., RCA, Decca and others. Smythe became well known for his authentic and natural-sounding recordings of the organ, all of which were done with a single microphone and very little editing. 

The fonds consists of correspondence, invoices, articles by Smythe, programmes, catalogues and other printed materials, photographs, and audio discs.

William Cole fonds

William Cole was born on 22 April 1934, the son of Raymond Cole and his wife Elaine Cole, in Kitchener, Ont. Bill Cole pursued a theatrical and musical career. He performed with the Stratford Festival, the Spring Thaw Review and the Charlottetown Festival. He also did some directing and recorded one record. In later life he sang with the Kitchener Waterloo Philharmonic Choir. H also taught high school briefly. He married Hilda Neeb in August 1957; the couple had two children, Trevor and Valerie, later divorcing in 1982. Bill died in December 2005.

The fonds consists of materials mainly relating to his acting and musical career. There are also materials relating to other family members including his great great grandfather, who was was a bandmaster.

C. Hubert Hastings Parry collection

Parry (1848-1918) was a Professor of Music at Oxford, and a Director of the Royal College of Music. He was influential in the revival of English music at the end of the nineteenth century, and was especially gifted in his composition of choral works with a massive effect. Among his works were the oratorios Judith (1888), Job  (1892), and King Saul (1894), and his Songs of Farewell written in 1916-1918. During and after World War I his unison song Jerusalem, a setting of the words from William Blake's Milton, was very popular. 

This collection of correspondence addressed to William S. Hannam, a member of the Leeds Music Festival Committee, covers the period from 1890 to 1913 and contains over seventy letters. 

Denis ApIvor collection of Christian Darnton and Bernard Van Dieren

Denis ApIvor, an English composer and musicologist, gathered together a variety of materials relating to Van Dieren and Darton.

The collection includes correspondence about the men and their music, original letters by Darnton, biographical materials, information about their compositions and performances of their works and edited (limited) editions of their compositions, prepared by ApIvor himself.

English, Irish, Scottish and German composers, conductors, musicians, writers and publishers collection

This collection includes a small number of letters by well-known and obscure composers, musicians, and other individuals involved in the music in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection includes letters from William Arthur Aikin (1857-1939), Michael William Balfe (1808-1870), John Francis Barnett (1837-1916), Sir Arnold Bax (1883-1953), Sir Julius Bendict (1804-1885), Sir William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875), Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson (1883-1950), Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975), Edwin York Bowen (1884-1961), Sir Frederick Bridge (1884-1924), Sir Benjamin Britten (1913-1975), Alan Bush (1900-1955), William Crotch (1775-1847), Sir Walford Davies (1869-1941), Herman Fink (1872-1939), Gerald Finzi (1901-1956), Henry Balfour Gardiner (1877-1950), Sir Edward German (1862-1936), Sir Eugene Goossens (1893-1962), Joseph Holbrooke (1878-1958), Charles Edward Horsley (1822-1876), Herbert Howells (1892-1983), John Ireland (1879-1962), Constant Lambert (1905-1951), Sir Alexander Mackenzie (1847-1935), Sir August Manns (1825-1907), Thomas Moore (1779-1852), Alfred Novello (1810-1896), Sir Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918), Henry Hugo Pierson (1815-1873), Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986), Cyril Scott (1879-1970), J. S. (John South) Shedlock (1843-1919), Sir John Stainer (1840-1901), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), Vincent Wallace (1812-1865), Richard Walthew (1872-1951), Samuel Webbe, (c1770-1843), and Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876).

Ethel Mary Smyth collection

Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) was an English composer, author, and feminist. She studied in Leipzig at the Conservatorium. As well as several operas and other musical pieces, she composed suffragette music including The March of the Women, the battle song of the Women's Social and Political Union. Miss Smyth was imprisoned in Holloway Prison as a result of her suffrage activities. 

This collection comprises of nineteen letters. For additional correspondence, researchers should consult the Eric Walter White collection. 

Franz Liszt and his circle collection

Franz Liszt (1811-1886), the Hungarian composer and pianist, was acknowledged as one of the greatest pianists of his time. He made his debut at the age of nine, and after studies in Vienna and Paris had a successful concert career in Europe. Between 1848 and 1861 Liszt lived in Weimar and devoted himself to composition, writing, and work as a conductor at court concerts. In 1865, he became a member of the Franciscan order in Rome. Abbe Liszt passed the remainder of his life in Rome and Weimar, with intervals of teaching at the Hungarian Conservatory of Music in Budapest.

These letters, dating from 1851 to 1883, were acquired from the Piano Institute of America in October 1978. The autograph letters are addressed to his daughters, the Mozart Society, Otto Singer and Herr Schirmer of Musik Verlag. 

Giuseppe Buonamici collection

Guiseppe Buonamici was born in Florence on February 12, 1846. He began to study the piano at an early age with his uncle, Guiseppe Ceccherini, and at 22 went to the Munich Conservatorium where he took lessons with Hans von Bulow and instruction in compositions with Josef Gabriel Rheinberger. He returned to Florence in 1873 where he became an instructor of piano at the Istituto Musicale. He played in public only infrequently, but was renowned as a teacher. His edition of the Beethoven sonatas was well respected, and he also published a series of studies based on the special pianistic difficulties of Beethoven's work, as well as The Art of Scale Study. In addition he was editor of the "Biblioteca del Pianista". He died on March 17, 1914. 

Buonamici became a close friend of Hans G. von Bulow after being his pupil, and this collection is notable above all for a series of fifty letters from von Bulow to him dating from 1869-1892. 

Hamilton Chamber Music Society collection

The Hamilton Chamber Music Society was founded in 1952 under the joint auspices of the Fine Arts Department of McMaster University and the Hamilton Conservatory of Music in Hamilton, Ont. Its first president was Reginald Godden, pianist, composer and teacher, who had been principal of the Hamilton Conservatory since 1948. The Society organizes concerts at which chamber music is performed by musicians of international stature as well as local musicians. 

The collection consists of programmes from the first concert, held 19 January 1952, until the 1976-1977 season.

Hans G. Von Bulow collection

Hans von Bulow (1830-1894) was an accomplished German pianist and conductor, and a champion of Wagner. He was the head of the piano department of the Stern Conservatory of Berlin from 1855 to 1864, the court pianist and conductor to Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1864, and the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic between 1887 and 1890. He toured many countries including Austria, Italy, England, and America, giving concerts wherever he went. 

This collection consists of a series of eight autograph letters (1854-1859) to Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein about friends and acquaintances such as Liszt, Berlioz, and Schumann. Also included in the collection are four letters to unknown correspondences and a photograph of Von Bulow inscribed by him to the pianist Annette Essipov.

Michael Tippett collection

This collection consists of a group of 28 holograph letters and two postcards from the English composer and conductor Michael Tippett (b. 1905) to the novelist and man-of-letters Edward Sackville-West (1901-1965). The dated letters range from 1947 to 1955. The correspondence covers the long composition and much delayed production of the opera The Midsummer Marriage. There is a great deal on the production itself, music problems, and his ideas for casting the roles. Tippett's other compositions are not neglected, and there are references to his Piano Concerto, Child of Our Time, Variations on a Theme of Corelli, and The Heart's Assurance. 

Pieter Tas Collection

Pieter Tas (1868-1947) was born in Holland but became best known as a musician in England. From 1907 to 1910 he was resident conductor of the private orchestra of the Duke of Devonshire. His son, Pierre Tas (1902-1971) was also a well regarded violinist and teacher. 

The collection is comprised of close to 300 letters and postcards from composers, musicians and orchestras along with some programmes, contracts and photographs. Among the correspondents are Granville Bantock, Sir Frederick Cowen,  Sir Edward Elgar and Sir Henry Wood. 

Sir Robert Mayer collection

Sir Robert Mayer (1879-1985) originally trained as a concert pianist but conceded in his twenties that he would not be successful in a concert career. His family went to England when Sir Robert was seventeen, and after a career in business, he founded the Robert Mayer Concerts for Children in 1923. Every year since, these concerts have introduced children to the best of music. In 1932 he founded the London Philharmonic Orchestra in association with Sir Thomas Beecham, and in the late 1950s founded Youth and Music to enable young people to organize musical activities. He actively encouraged the love of music by children through his concert series, and through fundraising for a variety of musical causes.

The archive at McMaster includes some correspondence, photographs, drafts of his autobiography My First Hundred Years (1972), lectures and other writings. There is also a large set of concert programmes and twenty-three interviews with Sir Robert and Lady Mayer. 

Canadian sheet music collection

This important collection of musical Canadiana was donated to the Library in 1985 by Dorothy H. Farquharson of Waterdown, Ontario. It consists of the following types of material: 1,160 items of Canadian sheet music; thirty albums of Canadian music; three hundred items of mid-twentieth century foreign sheet music with a secondary Canadian imprint; ten volumes in binders' albums of sheet music of non-Canadian interest; fittu sets of orchestrations of popular music with a secondary Canadian imprint; schoolbooks and songbooks; five hundred programmes; posters; and other publications and ephemera. This collection, which contains quite a number of pre-Confederation imprints, is one of the largest of its kind in Canada. It is particularly strong in Ontario publications and composers and in educational material.

Georgian songs collection

The collection consists of nearly 2000 songs, the majority of which were published in London, England during the Georgian Era, 1714-1830. The first accrual of the collection was purchased from Charles Cox Rare Books of Exeter, England in 1986. The second accrual was purchased from Lisa Cox of Exeter, England in 1988.

Irish and Scottish song manuscript

The manuscript contains over one hundred Irish and Scottish songs, collected by Harry S. Higginson. The index at the front goes as high as ninety-one songs at page 98, but there are songs until page 162, suggesting approximately 150 titles. Song lyrics are by Thomas Moore, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and others. In the front of the book Higginson has also kept track of his movements.

War Songs from the first half of the twentieth century collection

The collection consists of sheet music for songs related to war, particularly from the perspective of the Home Front. The collection includes 59 Canadian songs about World War I, 20 non-Canadian songs about World War I, 22 pre- and between the wars songs, and 19 songs about World War II.

 

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