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This chapter looks at the musical life at this phase of the RCM, and at its curriculum. It shows that Stanford’s programming of concerts and operas was as adventurous (and sometimes radical) as his approach to teaching composition was confined. The range of repertoire performed at College concerts is discussed, and shows that College students were exposed to a much wider range of musical influence than has been commonly thought. In 1903 the College received a significant capital endowment (called the Patron’s Fund) to help it mount concerts to advance young British composers and performers, and the implications of this Fund for the College and its reputation are discussed. George Grove’s RCM curriculum (and his emphasis on practical training) is discussed in relation to the evidence Grove gave to the Gresham Committee, advising on the reconstitution of London University. Grove's ideas about the sort of education a music college should offer is further indicated in the professional practice represented by the ARCM diploma, and the chapter ends with an analysis of ARCM passes which shows its significance as a qualification.
This chapter discusses George Grove’s success in his choice of staff and the quality of his leadership in knitting together the wide range of musical characters and personalities into a cohesive educational body. There are some vignettes of the early staff, illustrated by a photograph which vividly captures them at the laying of the foundation stone of the new building in 1890. Grove’s letters to his confidante, Edith Oldham, capture some of the personalities and the day-to-day strains of their working together, and these are quoted to give a more realistic sense of the College in its early days than has been given before. The second part of the chapter looks at why Parry was chosen as the College’s second Director and looks at his musical and strategic limitations. Parry’s bitter feuding with Stanford – a defining characteristic of his time as Director – is examined. The chapter shows that Stanford (not Parry) was the RCM’s musical director and explains how this greatly benefitted the College, and that the need for this dual leadership was recognized by the RCM Council.
The Introduction provides the background that led to the founding of the RCM. It argues that its vision came out of the musical achievements of August Manns and George Grove at the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, which hosted London’s first permanent concert orchestra. It suggests that the long-established trope of the ‘English Musical Renaissance’ gives a misleadingly composer-centric view of the late Victorian British musical condition, which ignores the vitality of the different participative musical cultures of the time, such as brass and wind bands or choral singing. It demonstrates how different Grove’s conception of the RCM was from the then-failing RAM in providing a complete and systematic musical training. It relates the attraction of the RCM’s education to the fact that examined accreditation for music teachers (the ARCM) was now a worthwhile professional investment. The Introduction presents one of the book’s central arguments, that from a national perspective, the College is as important for its students who worked to raise musical standards locally as for its star performers and composers.
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