From the University of Leeds:
How did a church organist from Sheffield amass the largest private collection of Mendelssohn material in Europe?
“Gather them in”: the Musical Treasures of W.T. Freemantle at the University’s Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, tells the undiscovered story of a passionate collector and the musical masters he admired.
Opening on Friday 1 March and running until the end of July, the exhibition is guest-curated by Dr Bryan White from the School of Music at Leeds University.
It builds on new research and brings to light the untold story of Freemantle’s significant musical collection. Dr White said: ‘Freemantle’s love for collecting was spurred by a visit to the market in Sheffield, where he unwittingly bought his first Mendelssohn manuscript. His passion became so strong that he said he would ‘endure martyrdom in Siberia’ if it would get him collectables he most desired.’
On display are previously unseen musical manuscripts and personal letters of Felix Mendelssohn. The exhibition also illuminates Felix’s often overlooked sister Fanny. A copy of Fanny’s last composition, the song ‘Bergeslust’, forms part of the exhibition. The piece was written the day before her sudden death in 1847.
Freemantle was a church organist and teacher from Sheffield. His passion for collecting led to him amassing the largest amount of Mendelssohn material outside the composer’s own family. Of his first find, he said: ‘my blood had heated, my pulse had quickened […] Oh! That bundle of music! I was now indeed an autograph collector.’