C.B. Oldman prize 2021 (2020 publications)

The Oldman Prize is awarded to an author or joint authors of a work deemed to have made a significant contribution in the area of music bibliography or musicology in the year prior to its being awarded.

Burrows, Donald, Coffey, Helen, Greenacombe, John, & Hicks, Anthony (eds). George Frideric Handel: collected documents. Volume 4, 1742-1750. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020). ISBN: 978-1-10708-021-8

Volume 4 of the Handel Collected Documents project contributes what is and continues to be a focussed and all-encompassing rich set of reference material relating to the composer George Frideric Handel in manuscripts, correspondence, programmes, advertisements, newspapers, diaries, poetry and literature, art and many other printed formats which the editors have included.

The committee noted that the editors realise that some entries had been discussed in publication over many decades, however, we found the usefulness of bringing all together in one chronological sweep created an immense resource. For instance, the composer’s correspondence has appeared in several publications but is here included, obviously, in the chronological sequence.

When social life was often structured around “the season” we find that the data collection in this publication includes a useful summary of the dates of a season, such as the stage and opera seasons, or the Lenten oratorio season, both of which contextualize the texts for the reader and highlight Handel’s musical prominence in various spheres and at different periods of time.

The committee enjoyed the excellently described and non-patronising textual commentary. The summaries included citations and locations to sources such as the manuscript and correspondence, notes on where images of such items have appeared in print in the past, and incredibly helpful and detailed cross-referencing to other entries in the publication. The index is thorough and helpfully guided and when there are multiple entries under a name entry these topics have been narrowed to useful subject matter entries. The volume usefully includes English translations of other-language based materials.

This volume in the series continues to provide an essential reference resource for Handel scholars and those with an interest in the eighteenth century, and embodies enormous scholarly research.

The committee commends this volume for the C.B. Oldman award for the year 2021.