Explore larger named collections relating to various historical performers who have studied or visited the Academy

Ethel Bartlett and Rae Robertson Collection

The collection at the Academy includes personal photographs, some press cuttings and letters relating to this eminent piano duo.

Ethel Bartlett (1896-1978) and Rae Robertson (1893-1956) were a very successful piano duo. They were both students at the Royal Academy of Music and enjoyed an extensive international career, in particular in the USA. They commissioned and recorded many of new works for piano duo from composers including Bohuslav Martinu and Benjamin Britten. Bartlett, a student of Tobias Matthay and Artur Schnabel, also partnered John Barbirolli in his early career.

A scanned illustration from the Bartlett Collection depicting a dueting pianist and harmonium player

James Blades Collection

James Blades OBE was a largely self-taught musician who played all styles of music; he taught percussion at the Royal Academy of Music for many years.

Blades provided the sound, but not the image, of the Rank Organisation's 'Gongman', who introduced films for many years. He also provided the rhythm of the Morse code for 'V', which the BBC used as a call sign during the Second World War.

Blades worked closely with Benjamin Britten to produce the precise sounds that were needed in many of his compositions, researching percussion instruments from many musical traditions, constructing his own instruments and experimenting with the sounds produced by unusual items. Many of these instruments form part of the Academy’s museum collections.

A tambourine with a multicoloured peacock illustration painted on the skin

Jenny Lind Archive

This archive comprises material concerning the life of the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind (1820-1887), collected with a biographical purpose by her husband Otto Goldschmidt (formerly Professor of Piano and Vice Principal of the Royal Academy of Music).

After Lind's death, in 1887, Goldschmidt engaged two writers: Canon Henry Scott Holland (with Goldschmidt, a young piano pupil of Felix Mendelssohn) and William Smith Rockstro. John Murray published Jenny Lind, the Artist in 1891. The two-volume biography treated Lind’s life to 1850, when she retired from the operatic stage.

Access to Archives provides a fully-searchable database of the Jenny Lind catalogue. To access the Lind catalogues through Access to Archives, follow the link, select ‘Search the Database’ and enter ‘Jenny Lind’ in the standard search box. The Academy’s catalogue appears first in the results list, and can be viewed in full, or by ‘table of contents’ summary.

Illustrated portrait of Jenny Lind, black and white

Tobias Matthay Collection

Tobias Matthay won the Sterndale Bennett Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in 1871. He was appointed a sub-professor at the Academy from 1876, and was a full professor from 1880 to 1925. His made his debut as a pianist in November 1884.

Matthay taught many of Britain’s finest pianists, including Dame Myra Hess, Harriet Cohen, Irene Scharrer, Clifford Curzon, Dame Moura Lympany, York Bowen, Harold Craxton, Vivian Langrish, Eileen Joyce, Irene Scharrer, Nina Milkina and Eunice Norton. In 1905 he opened the Tobias Matthay Piano School while continuing at the Academy. He is the author of many educational works for piano technique.

The collection includes portraits and some small personal items, as well as his Bechstein composing piano and some fingering charts. In addition, the Special Collections within the Library hold a collection of his manuscripts and other items more recently acquired, along with samples of his wooden practice triangles and their accompanying instruction charts.

Scanned black and white photo of Tobias Matthay posing with 27 people across three ascending rows

McCann Collection

Norman McCann studied singing at the Royal Academy of Music from 1948 to 1952. His personal collection was bequeathed in 1999. It comprises an extensive archive of photographic materials, ephemera, historic theatre playbills, recordings, memorabilia, scores and books.

This collection is particularly strong in autographed images of historic singers, instrumental performers, conductors and composers. It also contains an extensive and important archive of letters, musical quotations, contracts, miscellaneous documents, dedicatory poems, historic printed sheet music and some scores, and other items from or relating to composers and performers. Many items have been contributed directly from the personal collections of British and European musicians. Also included are more generic postcards with musical subjects, including images from antiquity, of humour, world music and other spheres, and a large collection of London theatre playbills.

McCann Concert Programme Archive

The McCann concert programme archive is particularly extensive and comprises opera and ballet programmes c 1830-1996; many chamber music programmes from the 1830s-1997; a separate document comprising an assessment of British concert programmes to 1955; and foreign concert programmes.

A separate concert programme archive is held in the Library’s Special Collections. Contact the Library for more information.

A collapsible fan containing signatures, from the McCann collection.

Foyle Menuhin Archive

The Foyle Menuhin Archive covers the life, career and personal interests of the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin, Lord Menuhin of Stoke d’Abernon, Hon RAM (1916-99). The archive was acquired by the Academy in March 2004, with generous funding from the Foyle Foundation and other donors. The archive consists of books, printed music, manuscripts, photographs, programmes, correspondence, objets d’art, drawings, paintings, memorabilia, scrapbooks and newspaper clippings.

The artworks and objets d’art include portraits, prints and original newspaper reports relating to the violinist Nicolò Paganini; many personal photographs of Yehudi Menuhin and other musicians; and playbills, posters, certificates and citations, medals, sculpture and other commemorative items.

Access to music and books is available available via the Library catalogue.

Access to the archival material is available on application to the Library.

A violin player viewed from behind their left shoulder, plucking the instrument in front of a wall of framed certificates

David Munrow Archive

A performance-centred archive, largely comprising files of music that relate to concerts given by the Early Music Consort of London (founded and directed by David Munrow) and to their audio recordings. The archive also contains Munrow's scores and arrangements for television and film productions, as well as some radio scripts. Material relating to the 1976 publication Instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and some correspondence, is also included.

The catalogue for this collection can be found in The National Archives.

Percussion instruments donated by the late Christopher Hogwood CBE Hon RAM and used by the Consort are catalogued in the Museum collections database.

Scanned black and white image of a musician blowing into a bass recorder

Spencer Collection

The Spencer Collection’s rare and interesting material dates from the mid-16th century. It contains lutes and guitars, printed books and manuscripts for the lute and guitar, song sheets, an instruction sheet for fretting, pages from the Mynshall, Burwell and Margaret Board lute tutor books, concert notices and advertisements, and playbills. It has strong visual material, such as engravings, mezzotints and lithographs relating to the guitar, lute, musical patronage, performers, performance venues, patrons, composers (particularly in relation to the lute and guitar), and allegorical scenes (such as representing the Five Senses or the Seasons), effigies and tombs, portraits of British kings, queens and aristocrats, and musical scenes. It also has exhibition panels relating to the life of Henry Purcell, used for the tercentenary of the composer’s death in 1995 in an exhibition curated by Robert Spencer at Wigmore Hall.

Assortment of four different historicalstringed instruments from the Spencer collection.

The Spencer Collection’s creator, Robert Spencer Hon RAM (1932-1997), was connected with the lute as a performer, scholar, teacher and collector of instruments and of manuscripts. He was professor of early English song at the Academy for nearly 25 years. Spencer used his collection as a working library, enabling him to carry out the detailed scholarly research that underpinned his performing and teaching activities.

Various instruments, manuscripts and prints from the Spencer Collection are on public display in the Museum’s Strings Gallery. The Spencer Collection was acquired by the Academy in 1998 with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Mrs Jill Spencer, the Britten-Pears Foundation and contributors to a public appeal.