- 1898-2009 (Creation)
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Music Preserved is a charity dedicated to preserving and making available private recordings of classical music, made either off air or at performances, and for which no other source exists. It was formed after Jon Tolansky, a percussionist with the Royal Opera House Orchestra, contacted Basil ‘Nick’ Tschaikov of the National Centre for Orchestral Studies to enquire about depositing his large collection of off-air recordings of public performances, some of which dated back to the 1930s.
Tolansky and Tschaikov subsequently set about finding a permanent home for the collection and laying the groundwork for adding new on-site recordings of musical performances to it in the future. Following protracted negotiations with the Musicians’ Union (MU), the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS), Equity (the actors’ union), and performers, composers, broadcasters and performance venues, Music Preserved was founded in June 1987 as the Music Performance Research Centre, or MPRC.
The MPRC made its first new on-site recording in October 1987 at a performance of the London Philharmonic Orchestra at London’s Royal Festival Hall, followed by their first recording at the Royal Opera House a week later. Recordings could only be made with the consent of all members of the orchestra and chorus, as well as the conductor and any soloists and notices of recordings would be posted a week in advance.
In 1988 the MPRC was recognised as a Designated Archive following a change in the law governing off-air recordings. As a result the MPRC were able to receive further donations of off-air recordings from members of the public, adding valuable new material to the archive. In 1989 the MPRC created a listening studio in the library of the Barbican Arts Centre in London, with listening booths and equipment donated by Sony.
Having a permanent home for the archive significantly raised the organisation’s profile. In 1990 the MPRC launched their annual journal ‘Musical Life’ and c.1992 Basil Tschaikov successfully applied for a Leverhulme Trust research grant to carry out a two year research project into ‘Performance Practice and Audience Expectations, 1900-2000,’ using the MPRC archives.
In the late 1990s the MPRC received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund enabling them to transfer their archive recordings to DAT and later to CD. Although the recordings continued to be housed at the Barbican, the MPRC launched their National Access and Education Programme to enable selected recordings to be played to the public at music colleges and festivals. At the 1997 Edinburgh International Festival the MPRC played a different archive recording from past festivals every day. Some 1000 people gathered inn Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall to hear the recording of the complete opera ‘La Sonnambula’ by Maria Callas, Fiorenzai and the La Scala opera company.
In 2001 the MPRC was renamed Music Preserved. In 2005 the archive was transferred from the Barbican Centre to the Borthwick Institute at the University of York. Today the University of York is one of three Music Preserved Listening Centres, together with the Barbican Centre and Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts at Trinity College of Music in Greenwich, London.
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Scope and content
Administrative archive of Music Preserved, 1987-2006.
Audio recordings, comprising the Saul Archive,1900-1996; Tolansky/Tchaikov Archive, 1898-2003; Harewood Collection, 1926-1985; Kenny Archive, 1951-1974; Kirkwood Archive, 20th century; Lewis Archive, 1947-1974; Mackerras Archive, 1935-2009; P. Wade Archive, 20th century; S. Wade Archive, 20th century; Music Preserved original recordings, 20th-21st century; Hendra Archive, 20th century; Hardwicke Griffiths Archive, 1935-1999; Kettley Archive, 20th century; Lehane Archive, 1957-1993; and McCann Archive, c.1948-1999.
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Related units of description
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Name access points
- Lascelles family, Earls of Harewood (Subject)
- Saul, Anthony Patrick Hodgins, 1913-1999, sound archivist (Subject)
- Kenny, Courtney Arthur Lloyd, b 1933, musician (Subject)
- Tolansky, Jonathan, b 1948, musician and documentary maker (Subject)
- Tschaikov, Basil 'Nick', 1925-2016, musician (Subject)
- Mackerras, Sir Alan Charles Maclaurin, 1925-2010, conductor (Subject)
- Lascelles, George Henry Hubert, 1923-2011, 7th Earl of Harewood (Subject)