Papers of Reginald Barrett -Ayres

Scope and Content

Compositions, personal and research papers of Reginald Barrett-Ayres (1920 - 1981), Reader and Head of Department of Music, University of Aberdeen. The collection comprises opera/theatre pieces, 1971 - 1973; operettas and student shows, c 1950 - 1977; choral works, c 1950 - 1979; plays with music, 1952 and n.d.; solo songs, 1940s - 1980; duets for Soprano and Tenor, 1975 - 1980; part songs and spirituals, n.d.; anthems, c 1965 - 1980 and n.d.; hymns, 1968 and n.d.; instrumental, c 1940 - 1979 and n.d.; correspondence relating to broadcasts, 1962 - 1973; correspondence with Haydn Society, 1980; correspondence with Faber Music, 1957 - 1970; correspondence with Barrie and Jenkins, 1969 - 1975; correspondence with H.C. Robbins Landon, 1964 - 1976; research papers, 1963 - 1970 (including Haydn research, 1963 - 1967); departmental lectures, Haydn lectures and public talks and lectures, 1971 - 1988 and n.d.; scripts of Aberdeen University student shows, n.d.; text, correspondence and other material relating to production of Hugh Miller, 1974; texts of various plays, pre-1964; texts and offprints of published articles and pamphlets, n.d.; compositions by Eric Reid and others, n.d.

Administrative / Biographical History

Reginald Barrett-Ayres (1920 - 1981) was a graduate of Edinburgh University, where he studied under Reid Professors of Music, Sir Donald Francis Tovey and Sydney Newman. He taught music at the Quaker School at Ackworth and at Glasgow Academy, before joining the University of Aberdeen Music Department as a lecturer in January 1951. He became acting Head of Department in 1956, on the death of William Swanson, and remained in post until his death in 1981 (latterly, as Reader and Head of Department). During this time the department's reputation grew; and his interest in developing new courses and research interests prompted increases in both staff and student numbers.

His consuming research interest in the Haydn String Quartet brought international acclaim through his publication of Joseph Haydn and the String Quartet (London: Barrie&Jenkins, 1974). Throughout his working life he also wrote a wide range of musical compositions for operas, operettas, choral works, solos, duets, anthems, hymns, examples of which are preserved in this collection, and was actively involved in many of the University's most successful theatrical and musical productions.

For further details see obituary in Aberdeen University Review, 49 (1981- 1982), 299 - 300.


As described in Scope and Content, above

Access Information

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

Deposited in the University between 1981 and 1986, by Mrs E. Barrett-Ayres. Subsequent deposits of related material found in the Music Department, Powis Gate, and in the Chapel Choir Library during the 1980s.

Other Finding Aids

Descriptive list available in the Reading Room, Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: A published version of this list is also available: see publications details, below.

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures


No accruals expected

Related Material

Papers of Eric James Reid (d 1970), 1950s - 1960s (GB 231 MS 3104). Eric Reid was the first PhD student in the Music Department of the University of Aberdeen, during which time he worked closely with Reginald Barrett-Ayres

Additional Information

This material is original