Friday, 9 October 2015

A visit to the National Library of Wales

Last Wednesday the students from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff, gave a superb memorial concert for Mervyn Burtch, attended by a large and enthusiastic concert. Many thanks and congratulations to all involved. You can read more about it in this short review published by Ty Cerdd.

I've recently returned form a visit to the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth with Michael McCartney, Chair of the Mervyn Burtch Trust, to discuss the bequest made to them to them by Mervyn Burtch before his died of his manuscript scores.

At present the Mervyn Burtch Trust is sorting out the best possible way to deposit the original manuscripts whilst retaining good quality copies (you can find out more about the Trust from one of my previous blogs). Although many of Mervyn's works were published, these probably comprised no more than 10% of his output, some of which have long since gone out of print. In addition, many of the published works are amongst his smaller scale pieces. This means that the Trust needs to keep around 600 works available for anyone who wishes to perform or study them.

We had a fascinating day seeing around the library and how it works. Mervyn's manuscripts will be held in vaults that are virtually fire and bomb-proof.

Here is Michael with myself and Dr Maredudd ApHuw, Manuscripts Librarian at the NLW.

Mervyn's manuscripts will sit alongside thoes of his contemporaries Alun Hoddinott and William Mathias.

The Trust's remit is to keep all of Mervyn's works available, so it is important to have master copies of each score. For many years, the scores deposited at the NLW have been safe, but not easily accessible. Now they are pioneering a new scheme where they will make high quality scans of the scores and make these available to the Trust. Here is one of the studios where the scanning is undertaken.

It's a very exciting and forward looking scheme in which Mervyn's bequest will play a major part.

However, there is still much work to do before the scores are packed up and delivered to Aberystwyth. Each score needs to  be checked for completeness and logged on the Trust's database, Although Mervyn left  his estate in very good order, there are anomalies as well as a number of missing manuscripts (where we only have photocopies). If anyone reading has, or knows, of the whereabouts of any of Mervyn's original manuscripts, we'd love to hear from you . Just drop a line to the Trust through the website.

Plenty of work to do now, but first, to end the day, a visit to Aberystwyth's seafront...

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