The mystery of Anna Charlier’s piano music

I found one of Anna Charlier’s music scores last year when I was doing some re-cataloguing of stock. On Friday, I discovered another one, which must have been in the library a  long time judging from its barcode and the state of its catalogue record – I found it when I was checking for records that needed tidying up.

But, you may well ask, who is Anna Charlier and why do we have some of her piano scores? Anna Charlier was most famous for being the fiancee of Nils Strindberg, a Swedish photographer who was part of an ill-fated hot-air balloon expedition to try to reach the North Pole in 1897. According to Wikipedia (which I know isn’t always the best source, but it has the most information about Anna I could find at the moment) Anna played the piano and Nils played the violin. After Nils and his colleagues were presumed dead (although the remains of the expedition weren’t discovered until 1930) Anna emigrated to America, and, despite the fact that she never got over Nils’ death, married a Mr Gilbert Hawtrey. They moved to England in 1914.

The music scores I’ve found (so far) in our collection show both her maiden and married names:

Front cover of piano score of Verdi's Aida

Front cover of piano score of Verdi’s Aida showing Anna Charlier’s maiden name

Anna's name in a piano score of Bizet's Carmen

Anna’s name in a piano score of Bizet’s Carmen

Title page of Verdi's Aida showing Anna Charlier's married name

Title page of Verdi’s Aida showing Anna Charlier’s married name (Anna Hawtrey)

e in copy of Bizet's Carmen

Anna’s married name in piano score for Bizet’s Carmen

The scores themselves have a certain poignancy, as it seems that music was a part of her relationship with Nils, and perhaps they even used these books if they ever played their instruments together. But as to how they came to be in our collection – that’s still a mystery.



On holiday

I’ve got the week off this week (lucky me, I know), so I thought I’d use some of my free time to reflect on what I’ve been up to at work recently.

I’ve now finished the main bulk of the music cataloguing, which is a relief. However, the remaining scores are interesting little things – and I mean interesting in the sense of ‘may you live in interesting times, as well as actually rather intriguing. So far, I haven’t found one that has been catalogued anywhere else – at least not with a retrievable record – so I’m having to do them all from scratch, which is good practice, but time consuming. To add to the fun, most of them have no publication details, apart from maybe a date, which may well be the date of composition, and I can’t even tell what kind of music they are scores of, which makes filling in the 008 and the 600 fields quite interesting. I’ve been spending quite a lot of time looking up composers’ websites in the hope of finding some clues, and these have been helpful in some cases, but, again, it’s all quite time consuming…although I must admit, I do find it very interesting. A lot of the composers have recordings of their works on their sites, so I’ve been listening to a few things (again, in the hope of finding clues), and most of it is not really my cup of tea! One memorable piece is a mish-mash of various sounds made my a string quartet using their  instruments to, for example, speak to a (presumably hypothetical) puppy. Very clever, but not really my thing.

I’ve also been cataloguing quite a few boxed sets of TV series on DVD, including my favourite TV series, Battlestar Galactica! So that was fun. New books are coming in thick and fast now, it being that time of  year, so I expect my workload will increase quite a bit over the next few weeks, if last year was anything to go by. I also have a couple of large boxes of education-related books that have been ‘donated’ by another campus library to catalogue once I’ve finally finished the music scores, so I will definitely not be short of things to do over the next few months!

On top of this, I’m now supposed to be helping out with the institutional repository in the afternoons. Fortunately, there hasn’t been too much to do with this so far, as the person in charge is now back from his first bit of paternity leave.

Things have been quite busy on the ‘front of house’ side over the last few weeks, as we neared the end of term. Loads and loads of books have been returned, and library users have left plenty of books lying around for us to clear up every day – which only adds to the number of books we have to shelve. It’s actually becoming an unmanageable situation, but we are supposed to be getting some new student shelvers soon, which should ease it a bit – we hope.

We haven’t had any official feedback from our ‘spaces project’ report, although unofficially I’ve heard that we will be sent back to the drawing board to look again at the ‘creative’ space. Aggh.

In an effort to do some research for the ‘new technologies’ group, and for my own interest, I participated in (although mainly lurked on) the CIG E-forum on Social Media in the Cataloguing Community last week. It was interesting to hear how cataloguing folk use social media to promote themselves and their work to library users and colleagues, and also to find out how other libraries are using social media in general (rather than specifically related to cataloguing). Unfortunately, the group looking at using social media tools in our library hasn’t met since January, so I think it might be a while before this cataloguer gets her hands on (e.g.) a work-related Twitter account!

Since I last wrote, we have had our appraisals, but I’ll write about those in another post.