IAML Congress Diary #5: An unforgettable experience (Czech Republic)

The following is by Zoja Seyčková (Bohuslav Martinů Institute, Czech Republic):

The Czech delegation at IAML 2023

We left for the congress with my colleague Blanka Ellederová a few days earlier, so that we could take part in an interesting tour of London libraries, which was also organized by our brilliant and skilled colleagues from England. It was Friday's Pre-congress Tour. After a breathtaking experience in the spaces and reading rooms at the British Library, where colleagues welcomed us with an exhibition of beautiful samples of autographs (for example, my favorite piece For Alina by Arvo Pärt, but also many others), we moved to the Barbican Center by subway, where we were really pleased with the size and beauty of the music department's space, including an extensive collection of sheet music with free access. To complete all the beautiful experiences, I was very pleased when the charismatic head of Barbican Music Library Richard Jones told me how he often goes to Prague and how he loves going to concerts with Martinů!

The third institution we visited was the Foundling Museum, where we were welcomed by Katherine Hogg. Here, in addition to the history of this harbor for homeless children, we were able to view a collection of various documents and objects from the Gerald Coke Collection, which also includes the autographs and will of Georg Friedrich Händel, who was a great supporter of this institution.

On Saturday, my colleague Blanka and I also took another look at the British Library, which really enchanted us. We toured its premises and reading rooms, and then we set off to see a few London sights. We crossed London Bridge and reached the Tower. The weather was beautiful! It would be really unforgivable if we didn't visit Baker Street as well, and in addition to the Sherlock Holmes souvenir shop, we also looked at the shop of the legendary Beatles next door. Among other things, we admired the ukulele with the Yellow Submarine!

The Beatles in London

But we were already looking forward to the congress itself, which started on Sunday with the Opening Ceremony and Reception at Trinity College in Cambridge. From London, we went there the next day on Sunday by train from King‘s Cross station—by a lucky coincidence from platform number 9, a short distance from the well-known platform 9¾!!!

In Cambridge, our colleague Jitka Málková from Brno, who had already arrived on Saturday, was waiting for us and led us safely to our hotel, so it suddenly felt like at home!

The expert lectures started on Monday morning. The congress was held at the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, and the atmosphere was very pleasant and friendly. The colleagues who were in charge of the congress were really amazing!!!

Since we had organized the congress a year earlier in Prague, we could imagine very well what it all entailed, and we especially admired the calmness and friendliness of the UK organizers, which they showed to all participants.

In addition to the fact that I tried to visit all the events and lectures involving our Czech colleagues, I also participated a lot of other presentations. First, I have to highlight the opening plenary session, which is always organized by the local Organizing Committee, where libraries from the UK presented their activities and collections, and where Margaret Jones played the piano beautifully for us!

As a representative of the Czech National Branch, where I am a vice-president, I also participated at the meeting of IAML Forum of National Representatives, where we discussed questions related to membership, websites, and the history of IAML on the web.

Presentations at IAML 2023

As you can see from the program, which is still posted on the congress website, a lot of Czech attendees were active. For example, our colleague Blanka Ellederová from the Municipal Library in Prague led a section called "Designing the music libraries for tomorrow" on Monday at 11:00 a.m., where the other two employees from the Music Department, Kateryna Romanovská and Jiří Slabihoudek, gave their presentation, and she also led the Public Library Section on Tuesday, August 1, at 9:00 a.m.

Ludmila Šmídová from the Music Department of the National Library presented on Friday, August 4. at 9 a.m. with a lecture entitled "Antonín Dvořák's manuscript documents in the Music Department of the National Library of the Czech Republic." The proceedings of the RISM project were monitored by Eliška Šedivá from the National Library of the Czech Republic, who was elected to the RISM coordination committee for the period 2023-2027. It is great that the Czech RISM working group will continue to be represented in this committee.

As for other lectures, I tried to attend those in line with my job, for example ones about institutions and libraries dealing with the lives and works of composers. One section entitled “Composers and their archives” even focused on this topic, where, for example, the people from the Manuel de Falla Archive and the Ernst Křenek Institute gave their presentations.

After Friday's wonderful Farewell Dinner at King’s College Cambridge, we took part in the Post-Congress Tour to Aldeburgh, Snape Maltings, and the Britten-Pears "Red House" on Saturday. Although it rained all day, it was an unforgettable experience!

Once again, many thanks to all the organizers, but also to all the participants of the congress!


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