Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications

School of Music


Uppingham Collection

 The Uppingham Collection: understanding and evaluation

The music department of Uppingham School acquired a miscellaneous collection of music, amassed over more than a century, among which was a significant number of items that date from the period when Paul David was music master (1865-1907). On the death of his father Ferdinand in 1873, Paul David, who had been his father’s violin student at the Leipzig Conservatorium, inherited both his Guarnerius violin and, apparently, much of his collection of violin music. On retiring to Oxford in 1907 Paul David clearly took most of his father’s music with him, leaving behind, probably inadvertently, only a relatively small proportion of the collection.

Two important items from the music he evidently took away with him (performing parts of Mendelssohn’s String Quartets opp. 12, 13, and 44, and the solo part of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, both marked in great detail by Ferdinand David) were acquired during the second half of the 20th century by Dr Alan Tyson, probably in Oxford, although Tyson left no information about where he had purchased or obtained these items. During the 1980s Tyson lent the Mendelssohn quartet copies to the violinist Manoug Parikian, with whom I was taking consultation violin lessons at the time, and subsequently to me for several years (I believe I returned them to him in the early 1990s). The flyleaf of the 1st violin part of this set is signed by Ferdinand David in the same blue crayon with which he entered most of his markings. This set of parts is now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford as part of Tyson’s bequest. The Bodleian also possesses another set of parts of the Mendelssohn string quartets (lacking the cello part) apparently marked in the hand of Paul David, which are of particular interest because they were obviously copied from the largely deleted pencil markings, which preceded those made with blue crayon, in Ferdinand David’s copy.

I was not aware that Tyson also possessed David’s personal copy of the original edition of the Beethoven Violin Concerto solo part until conducting research for my edition of the concerto (Wiesbaden, Breitkopf und Härtel, 2012). The copy, from the plates of the first edition (1809) reprinted by Haslinger c. 1827, is now in the British Library as part of the Tyson bequest. On examining it during a visit to the British Library in 2009 I realised immediately that the extensive annotations in orange crayon were David’s, despite the absence of his signature anywhere on the copy (currently preserved in a bound volume of items from the Tyson bequest) and subsequently informed the Library of this. This copy, evidently used by David for performing the work, is of particular interest because of its close correspondences with, and occasional differences from David’s 1865 published edition of the work.

Many copies in the Uppingham Collection are signed on the front covers or flyleaves by Ferdinand David and some are identified as his by the initials F. D (sic, without a second full stop), apparently made with a rubber stamp, on their title pages or, where these are absent, the first page of music (in one case, where this too is missing, the first extant page). All occurrences of the F.D stamp except one are found on the front of individual pieces that were, or are bound together in collected volumes of music. The exception is the bound volume of the Hohe Schule, which, although it consists of twenty separately published parts, has the stamp only on the paper label pasted to the outside of the front cover and the front flyleaf, which was added when the individual parts were bound together. The Hohe Schule seems to have been bound for Paul David or, if not, he at least added the label on the stiff front cover, which apart from the stamp contains nothing but his own writing. The flyleaf, on which the stamp also occurs, has been written on only by Paul David. This strongly suggests that it was he who employed the stamp. If this is so, it will presumably also have been he who had the separate works that are stamped in this fashion bound into composite volumes. The only bound volumes of separate works in the Uppingham Collection that are likely to have been bound together for his father are the 1st and 2nd violin parts of duets by Viotti, Hubert Ries, Hauptmann and Spohr. These have Ferdinand David’s own hand-written and signed table of contents affixed to the front cover of both the companion volumes. Of the collections of separately published pieces in the Uppingham Collection that were originally bound together, only these violin duets and the Hohe Schule are complete and retain their hard covers.

Identifying the manuscript annotations in the Uppingham parts is clearly of the utmost importance for evaluating them. These occur in a variety of media: ink, lead pencil of different densities, and different colours of crayon. Ferdinand David’s annotations, the bulk of which are made in blue crayon (although other colours as well as ink and pencil occur) are, in general, easy to recognise, both from context and style. In individual cases of particular fingering, bowing or other performance marking, however, it is not always possible to be entirely certain whether they are his rather than his son’s or, much more rarely, another musician’s markings. Paul David’s fingerings are, for the most part, clearly distinguishable from those of his father by the predominant form of his 1 and 2.

Some of Ferdinand David’s personal copies continued to be used well into the 20th century. One such is the volume of Beethoven Duos (Sonatas and other pieces for violin and piano) which was used for violin teaching in the late 1920s (individual sonatas are marked with the dates of lessons). This volume is only identifiable as having belonged to David by a few markings in the ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata that are unmistakably his; it does not, however, give the impression of having been used by him for performance. A small number of markings made by 20th- or early 21st-century pupils at the school, for instance in the parts of Bach's Fourth Brandenburg Concerto and the Mozart Duos for Violin and Viola (which have been significantly damaged by their recent use in the school), are easily distinguished from older markings. Details of manuscript markings are addressed in the introductions to particular copies on the website.

C. B.