Papers of Christopher Edmunds

Scope and Content

The collection includes 3 symphonies, 4 operas, 10 choral works, 25 chamber works and numerous piano pieces, part songs and short orchestral pieces, many of which were broadcast by the BBC Midland Light Orchestra during the 1960s. There are over 90 autograph scores, 41 sets of orchestral parts - mostly autograph but some in the hands of copyists, including pupils of Edmunds - together with some photocopies. This makes performance of the symphonies and other orchestral and chamber works a practical possibility. There are also many printed scores, particularly of piano and instrumental music, and a large number of part songs which Edmunds wrote for the choral festival movement of the 1920s and 1930s. Additional items include a tinted photograph of the cast of the opera The Blue Harlequin (performed in 1929 and 1937). A reminder of how composers have to struggle for recognition is revealed in two letters of rejection from publishers, despite complimentary remarks pencilled on one of the scores by the reader.

In Edmunds' day unpublished works were performed straight from the autograph manuscript and some of those in the collection are signed by conductors such as Harold Gray and Julius Harrison, while others bear dedications to David Willcocks and Stanley Adams and the viola player Lena Wood. The collection represents a tangible link with the Bantock tradition in Birmingham.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dr Christopher Edmunds, 1899-1990, composer, lived and worked in Birmingham all his life. Edmunds was a teacher of harmony and composition at the Birmingham School of Music from 1929 and Principal, 1945-1956. He was one of a circle of pupils surrounding Sir Granville Bantock during his time as Peyton Professor and Principal of the School until 1934.

Reference: Michael Jones, The University of Birmingham Research Libraries Bulletin ( Number 7 Spring 2000 ).

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

This collection was acquired in 1986.

Other Finding Aids

Please see online catalogue for further details.

Alternative Form Available

The collection includes some photocopies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department also holds the papers of Granville Bantock (GB 150 GB) and Edward Elgar (GB 150 EE)