|Newnham College, Cambridge|
Courtesy of sylviaplath.info
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.