Manchester City Council

Libraries Henry Watson Music library

Sir John Barbirolli's speech at the opening

When the Henry Watson Music Library was relocated to the second floor of Central Library, Sir John Barbirolli made the opening speech on Tuesday, 16 September 1949. During a lengthy address, Barbirolli, who was a regular user of the music library, praised the then music librarian, John Russell, and his helpful staff, and made clear how important he felt the library was to the musical life of the city.

He finished with some personal reminiscences about his visits to the library. Something of Barbirolli's character is perhaps revealed when he takes a very positive view of the fact that the item he came into the library to look for was on loan, saying:

"Only last week, forgetting I possessed a copy of Verdi's 'Macbeth' of my own, I tried for one and they were all out. A very healthy and encouraging sign".

He also described in detail some of the technical help he received:

"Worried about a detail in the horn part in the slow movement of the Beethoven 4th Symphony, I happened to mention it to Mr. Russell one day, and I could immediately see from the small but shameless smile of triumph that illumines his features on these occasions that I was on to something. The Library contains the first edition of the full score and the band parts (published before the score) from which contemporary performances took place. Sure enough the tied note which had puzzled me and which is never shown in modern editions was there in contemporary editions".

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