Welcome to The Musicians' Company's Archive website.
This 'Archive' website has been developed to present photographs and associated information concerning items of interest, or value owned by or associated with the Musicians' Company. These images and details are being made available to Company members and anyone else with an interest, in an easily accessible format.
New items of archive research are being added to this website all the time.
Click on the button above to see a listing of items recently introduced and keep up to date with archive discoveries, investigations and development of this reference website.
Initially, the project concentrated on the Court Minute Books stored in the Guildhall Library. They contain the handwritten minutes taken during every Court Meeting of the Company since mid-1772. The intention was to make their contents available to people without the need to visit the Library. This part of the project is now complete (for the time being), taking the images up to the end of 1937. There are about 3,250 pages and the images are all presented on this website in .pdf format and can be downloaded a page at a time, or a year at a time.
Work continues on the conversion or 'transcribing' of these images into text that can be searched by your computer. Names, places, companies, locations and events that appear in the Minutes are being loaded into a single 'pdf' document allowing a quick and easy way of finding all and any reference to the detail being researched. While not intended to be read as a stand-alone document, it offers a kind of Electronic Index to what's in the Minute Books. An indication of progress toward this goal can be found here.
The next phase was to seek out other 'Treasures' and Artifacts owned by the Musicians' Company (such as original manuscript scores, letters, artworks and publications, together with information and supporting documents), photograph them, research their history and provenance and where possible and appropriate, provide a link back to the Court Meeting Minutes that refer, eg the decision to offer the Honorary Freedom of the Company to Sir Edward German was discussed in a Court Meeting on 7th July 1936 and a link to the Minutes of that meeting is provided on the page that presents the Composers autograph manuscript of Masque (Click Here).
For example, the image left is the first page of Sir Edward Elgar's Elegy, which was composed for the Musicians' Company in 1909. When presenting the manuscript, Elgar's accompanying letter apologised for "...the red ink disaster on the first page". Click Here for more information on this important set of documents. This aspect of the Archive will naturally remain under continuous development and improvement as more things come to light. If anyone has any documents, photographs, scores, performance bills or programmes, other ephemera, or items of particular interest,
relevance or importance (which they wouldn't mind being photographed and presented on this Archive website), please get in touch via the Contact section of this website.
The Archive website and in particular the Treasures section, has borrowed significantly from three excellent publications: the original Company Handbook first published 1902,
edited by Mr A.C. Hunter; The Worshipful Company of Musicians - A Short History, compiled by Brigadier H.A.F. Crewdson, first published 1950, Constable & Co. Ltd and Apollo's Swan and Lyre, by Mr Richard Crewdson, 2000, Boydell Press. Grateful thanks are especially due to both former Clerks to the Company for the production of these invaluable guides.
A few years ago the Company was involved - along with a number of other Livery Companies, with a University of London initiative called 'ROLLCO' (Records Of London's Livery Companies Online). Published in 2014, it offers a searchable database of Company Freemen and Apprentices up to 1900. This facility continues to offer much help to historians, music researchers and members of the City's Livery Companies and is well worth investigating. For more information on ROLLCO and a link to their searchable site, please Click Here.
The twice-yearly journal, Preserve Harmony, was launched in 1990 as a 6-sided, unbound leaflet and has developed since then into a professionally published, glossy, full colour magazine. This website tracks its progress from the first edition through until the present day. Click Here to go straight to that section.