10 January 2014

Sylvia Plath Collections: Sheet Music at Newnham College, Cambridge

Newnham College, Cambridge
Courtesy of sylviaplath.info
Smith College holds photocopies of sheet music (covers only) formerly owned by Sylvia Plath. A note with these documents reads "Original sheet music in Newnham College, Cambridge Archives. Sheet music was left by Plath in her rooms at Newnham College, 1956 (?)." Four of the covers have Plath's signature; three have notes by Aurelia Plath. The original sheet music is now held by the Newnham College Archives, Cambridge, England.

The titles of the sheet music that she owned and left at Newhnam are:

1) Apex Edition of Graded Albums for Piano (WorldCat)
2) Beethoven Moonlight Sonata (WorldCat)
3) C Bohm Favorite Compositions for the Piano*
4) Classic and Romantic Pianoforte Pieces (WorldCat)
5) Copland Scherzo Humoristique* (WorldCat)
6) Debussy La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin* (WorldCat)
7) Grieg Poetic Tone Pictures (WorldCat)
8) Oklahoma! (WorldCat)
9) Poulenc Mouvements Perpetuels* (WorldCat)
10) Progressive Pieces for Pianoforte (WorldCat)
11) Les Chanson de Charles Trenet Band II

The * by numbers 3, 5, 6, and 9 indicate the presence of Plath's ownership signature.

We know Plath was inspired by and responded creatively to art. Music was important to Plath, too. Which makes sense as she was attuned to the cadence and structure of words and lines of verse in her poetry. Especially so at this time (that is, pre-1957, as Plath moved out of Newnham in the late autumn of 1956) since her poetry was more formal. Plath had piano lessons as a teenager and wrote to her German pen pal Hans Joachim-Neupert that she enjoyed popular music and that she could play "Boogie-Woogie" on the piano. She listened to Marcia Brown play piano in the summer of 1951 and remembered this ten years later in her 1961 poem "The Babysitters": "I remember you playing 'Ja-Da' in a pink piqué dress / On the gameroom piano..." (Collected Poems 175). Plath also wrote a scene involving a piano and piano-player in her novel The Bell Jar. In the scene a patient in Dr. Gordon's private hospital in Walton tears her sheet music in half (Chapter 12). In addition to the titles listed above, some others that Plath mentioned purchasing include the piano music for "These Foolish Things"; "September Song"; "I'm in the Mood for Love"; and "The Man I Love".

Plath enjoyed listening to her boyfriend J. Mallory Wober play his portable organ in her rooms, as well as in his room, then located at 7 Peas Hill (map; Google Maps says that it is about .8 miles walking distance (about 16 minutes) from Plath's Whitstead residence at 4 Barton Road; however, they do not have a "walking with organ" option). She wrote in a letter to Wober once that she cannot live in a room with no music; and mentioned listening to or playing the piano in many other letters to people including, among others: her mother and brother, Marcia Brown, Gordon Lamayer, Constantin Sidamon-Eristoff, Eddie Cohen, Elinor Klein, Lynne Lawner, Olive Higgins Prouty, Helga Huws, and Elizabeth Sigmund (then Compton). Plath wanted a piano, too, at Court Green so that she could play for her children, and likely also so her children could take lessons.

You can see more libraries that hold Plath materials on the Archival Collections page of my website for Sylvia Plath, A celebration, this is.

All links accessed 18 October 2013.

No comments :

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Publications & Acknowledgements

  • BBC Four.A Poet's Guide to Britain: Sylvia Plath. London: BBC Four, 2009. (Acknowledged in)
  • Biography: Sylvia Plath. New York: A & E Television Networks, 2005. (Photographs used)
  • Connell, Elaine. Sylvia Plath: Killing the angel in the house. 2d ed. Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1998. (Acknowledged in)
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 3." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 119-138.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 4: Looking for New England." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012: 11-56.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past." Plath Profiles 6. Summer 2013: 27-62.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Death Be Not Proud: The Graves of Poets. New York: Poets.org. (Photographs used)
  • Doel, Irralie, Lena Friesen and Peter K. Steinberg. "An Unacknowledged Publication by Sylvia Plath." Notes & Queries 56:3. September 2009: 428-430.
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, acknowledged in)
  • Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
  • Holden, Constance. "Sad Poets' Society." Science Magazine. 27 July 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, Motion Picture. Directed by Rachel Talbot. Brookline (Mass.): Jewish Women's Archive, 2007. (Photograph used)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. (Acknowledged in)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath. London: Faber, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
  • Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'I Should Be Loving This': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar." Plath Profiles 1. Summer 2008: 253-262.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3 Supplement. Fall 2010: 3-14.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.