Tag Archives: Hanover

An Astronomer’s Music Book

Caroline Lucretia Herschel (1750-1848), an English astronomer of German birth, was born in Hanover, in a family of military musicians.  In 1772, she moved to England, settling in Bath with her older brother, musician and astronomer William Herschel (1738-1822).  In England, Caroline Herschel pursued a career as a soprano, while studying mathematics and assisting her brother with his astronomical observations.  Brother and sister both eventually gave up music to pursue astronomy full time.  Following his discovery of Uranus in 1781, William was knighted and appointed court astronomer.  Caroline’s discoveries of nebulae and comets led to a salaried court position and recognition by the Royal Astronomical Society.  She continued her astronomical work after returning to Hanover following William’s death in 1822.  Her publications included Catalogue of stars, a reorganization of the star catalog created by John Flamsteed (1646-1719), first royal astronomer, and A Catalogue of the nebulae which have been observed by William Herschel

The Hanover Royal Music Archive contains a volume of manuscript music exercises and notes on music study kept by Caroline Herschel.  The volume, bound in full sprinkled calf with gold tooling, measures 29.5 by 24 centimeters and contains 92 unnumbered pages, included about 15 blank pages.  The volume is undated, but was written in English and was likely created after Herschel’s arrival in England and before her full-time work in astronomy, circa 1772-1781. 

Several sample images from the volume are shown below; images of the complete volume are available in Beinecke’s Digital Library.

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Cover

Herschel’s signature appears on the front pastedown:

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Front pastedown

Contents of the volume include elements of  music theory:

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Notes on clefs, key signatures, and fingering

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Notes on intervals

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Notes on tuning

Other contents reflect Herschel’s study of singing and keyboard performance during this period:

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Singing exercises

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Unidentified music for keyboard

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Notes on harmony and accompaniment, page 1

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Notes on harmony and accompaniment, page 2

 

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Notes on harmony and accompaniment, page 3

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Solfege exercise

Solfege exercises in the volume are incomplete; the exercise shown above is followed by 14 pages prepared with headings only, such as “solfeggio per gli dissonanzie,” “per la falsetta,” and “per la sycopatione.”  Clear and precise music notation and diagrams, all presumably in Herschel’s handwriting, seem to indicate a scientific approach to her music studies:

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Example chords and circle of fifths

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Conducting patterns and notes on music notation

Other contents show a lively sense of fun, such as these humorous catches:

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Music book (Box 824). Catches

How did Herschel’s music book end up in the Archive among music books of the royal princesses?  Caroline and William had ties to the royal court through their official appointments as astronomers, but the possibility of a musical connection with the royal family is more mysterious, and may offer further insight into Caroline Herschel’s early life and education.

Instrumental Pedagogy

The Archive contains several pedagogical works for use in teaching and studying the playing of musical instruments.  An example is Bartolomeo Campagnoli’s Nouvelle méthode de la mécanique progressive du jeu de violon:

Campagnoli, Bartolomeo. Nouvelle méthode de la mécanique progressive du jeu de violon (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1824). Title page

Bartolomeo Campagnoli (1751-1827), an Italian violinist and composer born in Bologna, toured throughout Europe as a performer during the 1770s-1780s.  Campagnoli worked on his Nouvelle méthode for violin while serving as music director at the court of the Duke of Courland, Dresden, 1779-1797, and as leader of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Leipzig, 1797-1818.  He completed the work in Hanover, where he settled in 1820 with his two daughters, who were pursuing careers as singers.  Published in 1824, the Nouvelle méthode was dedicated to Prince Adolphus, then vice-regent of Hanover.  Prince Adolphus (1774-1850), one of the younger sons of George III, became Duke of Cambridge in 1801, and served as vice-regent in Hanover from 1816, during the reigns of his brothers George IV and William IV, until his brother Ernest Augustus became King of Hanover in 1837. 

The Archive contains three copies of this work: two unbound as issued by the publisher, and one in a royal binding, dated at Hanover, 1823.  It is unclear why the date on the cover predates the publication date: possibly a copy was given early to a royal patron, or perhaps the date on the cover is incorrect.

Campagnoli, Bartolomeo. Nouvelle méthode. Cover

Contents of the Nouvelle méthode are in five parts, covering the elements of music notation and violin technique, with progressive exercises. 

Campagnoli, Bartolomeo. Nouvelle méthode. List of contents

These exercises, from part one, are in the form of duets for a student and teacher:

Campagnoli, Bartolomeo. Nouvelle méthode. Page 9

Explanations of performing technique are supplemented with illustrations:

Campagnoli, Bartolomeo. Nouvelle méthode. “Tab. II”

Campagnoli achieved more lasting success with his pedagogical works than as a composer.  His Nouvelle méthode  for violin was published in Italian, English, and American editions.  He remains best known for his 41 caprices for viola, op. 22, which are still in use by violists.