Iain Fenlon, Professor of Historical Musicology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge

Musical History and Material Culture

This paper explores some of the considerations that are raised by the act of selecting music for public display in a museum setting, and discusses some of the principles and motivations which might be at work in making choices. As a way of making this general concern more concrete, the first part of the discussion centres on the new exhibition galleries of the British Library in London, where music is shown alongside other kinds of books and manuscripts from different cultures and epochs. This leads to a consideration of how the materiality of a printed music book can be contextualized as a way of allowing it to be 'read' historically and culturally by a viewer who is not necessarily musically literate.