I am researching the music of the Scottish-American composer, Thea Musgrave. The British Library purchased her archive in 2008 and continues to acquire subsequent papers as they are completed. The archive includes Musgrave's music manuscripts, correspondence, concert programmes, press cuttings, research notes, libretti (including drafts), photographs, and recordings. This wealth of primary source material has yet to be fully organised, so an important output of my research will be to provide catalogues and finding-aids that will enable researchers to make effective use of the archive.
My PhD thesis will look at the primary sources themselves and offer a critical commentary on the process of cataloguing the archive. In addition to musicological concepts, I draw on ideas from theatre studies and genetic criticism. Theatre studies is helping me explore Musgrave’s strong engagement with the dramatic in her operatic and non-operatic output. An interest in the theatrical gestures latent in musical performance emerged in her scores at a time when this was unusual in classical music.
Genetic criticism provides a framework for exploring the tensions that exist between cataloguing finished works and sketch material. In particular, I will interrogate the troublesome notion of the Fassung letzter Hand (the “final manuscript”) in the course of scrutinising the multitude of alterations, corrections, and errata.