About Us

Our Mission Statement

‘to preserve and promote Ivor Gurney’s literary and musical legacy’

Our Aims

  • to help maintain The Ivor Gurney Collection held at the Gloucestershire Archives.
  • to provide assistance and guidance to those involved in research into the life and work of Ivor Gurney, whether for the purpose of personal study or with a view to publishing their work.
  • to authorise the use of archival materials for the purpose of academic research, publication, performance and recordings.
  • to make available ‘performing editions’ of Ivor Gurney’s ‘unpublished’ music to performers and to initiate and encouraging recordings of the music, particularly previously unrecorded music.
  • to work closely with The Ivor Gurney Society in pursuit of the Trust’s aims

The Trust’s primary role is to help support the preservation of The Ivor Gurney Collection held in the Gloucestershire Archives. Since 2001, the Trust has offered assistance in the process of applying modern standards of preservation to the collection. A much needed ‘upgrade’ of the conservation work became something of a priority following the first important cataloguing of the collection by Anthony Boden and Sylvie Pierce, who also recognised the need for further detailed conservation work. Fortunately, a timely transference of the Gurney archive to the Gloucestershire Record Office (subsequently renamed Gloucestershire Archives) in 2006, meant that the collection could now be stored in ideal circumstances.

More recently, a repackaging grant was awarded to the archive by the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust. This has allowed for additional conservation work to be carried out, including custom-made packaging for specific items and for cleaning and repair work. Furthermore, since 2006 the Trust has been most fortunate in having the expert help of Philip Lancaster. His initial research focused upon producing the first complete catalogue of the musical works of Ivor Gurney (see IGS Journal, Volume 12, 2006). Following on from this, in 2007, Philip Lancaster was awarded a PhD studentship from the University of Exeter. This three-year post, associated with the University’s centre for South West Writing, was funded jointly by Great Western Research, Gloucestershire Archives and the University of Exeter. Building upon the work of Anthony Boden and Sylvie Pierce his monumental task was to catalogue and reorganise the entire collection. This has now been completed.

Central to the work of the Trust is the advise and support that we are able to give to those involved in research of the life and works of Ivor Gurney. In this regard, the Trust can authorise the use of archival materials for the purpose of academic research, publication, performance and recordings. Although, the archive is open to the general public there are inevitably some restrictions regarding the access to, and use of these materials. These restrictions are in part necessary to preserve some of the more fragile items in the collection, but also to make certain that these items are used in a proper manner and in accordance with UK copyright law.

As these restrictions are somewhat complicated it might be helpful if I outlined briefly the current arrangements.

Since 2007, all Ivor Gurney’s musical and literary works published during his lifetime are out of copyright and thus in the public domain. However, the posthumous works held in the archive are subject to UK copyright law. (Click here for Copyright information)

1. Literary Works.

A large proportion of Gurney’s poetry and literary output has been commercially published, by Carcanet Press. Carcanet’s permission must therefore be sought for any one wishing to use or reproduce Gurney’s poetry or other literary works published by them. Click here for Carcanet’s contact details).

For all other ‘unpublished’ literary works held in ‘The Ivor Gurney Collection’, permission for their use must be obtained in writing from the Trust.(Click here for Terms and Conditions)

2 Musical Works.

The chief restrictions regarding Gurney’s music concerns the use of the ‘unpublished’ manuscripts held in the archive. The term ‘use’ denotes the reproduction of, in part or whole and in any form, Gurney’s ‘unpublished’ music. Permission must be sought from the Trust in writing for anyone wishing to use any of Gurneys ‘unpublished’ music. (Please see The Trust’s ‘Terms and Conditions’ ).

The chief reason for these restrictions is that the Trust is currently engaged in the process of transcribing and editing all of Gurney’s ‘unpublished’ music. The Trust has felt this necessary, partly for preservation reasons (fragile originals would no longer need not be disturbed) but principally to achieve its long term goal of making all of Gurney’s music publically available in a form that is helpful to performers. Ideally, this music should be published commercially and therefore easily obtainable. However, given the huge costs involved in such an enterprise the Trust has opted, for the time being, to make this music available in its own ‘performing editions’. To achieve this end, the Trust appointed Ian Venables and Philip Lancaster as joint editors. It is hoped that in time all of Gurney’s ‘unpublished’ music will be typeset and edited as ‘performing versions’.

Editorial work and ‘performing editions’

Although, Gurney’s reputation rests chiefly on his vast output of solo songs and song cycles, he also composed works in many other genres, including; orchestral, instrumental, chamber, choral, organ and piano works. The vast majority of these works remain ‘unpublished’. One of the Trust’s aims is to encourage performances of these ‘posthumous works’ and to bring them into the public domain by producing ‘performing editions’. These new typescript editions, are intended to the improve the presentation and clarity of Gurney’s scores, whilst preserving the original manuscripts. They will also an invaluable guide for performers.

1. The unpublished Songs

Currently, there are 286 solo songs (with piano accompaniment) in ‘The Ivor Gurney Collection’. Out of this number, 222 were composed between 1907 and 1922. Ninety songs have so far been commercially published, including Gurney’s 1925 song cycle ‘Light’s Out’. Therefore, excluding the ‘Light’s Out’ cycle, there are 123 solo songs by Gurney composed between 1907- 1922 that have not yet been published.To date, the Trust has been able to transcribe and edit some 50 of these ‘unpublished’ songs as ‘performing editions’ with more being added each year. In addition, some of Gurney’s instrumental music has also been transcribed and edited for performance. A full list of all these ‘performing editions’ can be obtained either from the Trust.It has been asked, why it is necessary for the Trust to transcribe and edit the ‘unpublished’ music when the originals are in the Gloucestershire Archives and could simply be photocopied and then performed? The Trust’s reasons for imposing restrictions upon th’e unpublished’ manuscripts are three-fold. Firstly, Gurney’s original manuscripts are becoming increasingly fragile and so less physical contact with them will help to preserve them for posterity. Secondly, Gurney’s handwriting is often difficult to decipher and therefore interpret correctly. This could produce incorrect readings of the music when performed. Thirdly, in some cases there are several versions of the same work. These versions can differ widely from one another, particularly in terms of their musical content and their notation. The Trust believes that Gurney’s music will be best served if there is a single unified ‘performing edition’ for each of the ‘unpublished’ works. These ‘performing editions’ would not replace the wish of any Gurney researcher to have access to the original manuscript. Nevertheless, it is hoped that these ‘‘performing editions’ will help to preserve the original manuscripts, whilst at the same time helping to reduce the burden upon those working in the archive.