Collection Description

Collection name Stourhead
Unique identifier
Description The present Stourhead House, completed in 1725, was badly damaged by fire in 1902, with much of its collections destroyed. Its final owners, Sir Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare and his wife Alda Hoare (1861-1947) invested much time in restoring Stourhead, and its collections today are largely their work.

The printed music collection, of approximately 170 items, is almost entirely the personal collection of Alda Hoare. It consists solely of piano music and songs, and dates from approximately 1860 to 1925. Both the piano music and songs include original compositions and arrangements from stage works. Representative composers are Emil Walfteufel, Paolo Tosti, and Francis Thomé.

Not only are the majority of items in the collection inscribed with Alda Hoare’s ownership markings, but a very large percentage bear long inscriptions in Alda’s hand relating to Sir Henry and Alda’s only child, Henry Colt Arthur Hoare (“Harry”) (1888-1917), who died fighting in Egypt in the First World War. Examples of these include “Harry’s favourite of all pieces of music”; “Often asked for by Harry”; and “The first song ever learnt by … Harry … he had a most beautiful deep barytone voice”. Reference is frequently made to Harry’s death, for example, “Harry’s last favourite Valse … The title [‘Destiny’] was prophetic. He died at Alexandria of wounds on Dec. 20th 1917”; “Played … the day we bid him farewell & he sailed for Egypt with reg[re]t”; and “Sung by Harry … on his last night … after convalescence for war & never came back.” A small number of these inscriptions are dated to very shortly after Harry’s death. This collection of relatively unremarkable music is given highly personal meaning through these unusual inscriptions, whose owner’s grief is embodied in this collection, in the memories of her son and the music they enjoyed performing together.

Reference is made to Harry Hoare being a singer, and a small number of the songs in the collection do bear ownership inscriptions in his hand.

Stourhead contains two musical manuscripts, one in the hand of Anne Tyrwhitt-Drake Hoare (-1847), entitled “Music instruction”; and another of unknown provenance, with unidentified contents.

Books relating to music consist of two metrical psalters (Sternhold & Hopkins, 1586; “The psalms of David in meeter”, 1639); two books on dancing by Giovanni Gallini (1766 and 1772); and three of Charles Burney’s books on music (1785-1789).

Stourhead’s instruments are a Christopher Ganer square piano (1784); a William Rock square piano (1799), one of only two known to exist by this maker; and a Steinway grand piano of 1889.

Other musical items include a musical automaton with musicians, from approximately 1870; a duet stand from approximately 1820; and music room furniture by Thomas Chippendale II.

Amongst the artworks at Stourhead are a number of musical paintings, some with family connections. A Samuel Woodforde painting of 1785 depicts Anne Hoare (1737-1759) with a lute; and a work by St George Hare shows Alda Hoare playing the piano. Other paintings with musical themes are Saint Cecilia playing the organ (Justus Sustermans); An old woman singing, and a dog (Giacomo Francesco Cipper); Apollo with a lyre; Sappho and her companions; and Two small boys singing.

Most items are listed on Printed items are additionally catalogued on Jisc Library Hub Discover. The square pianos appear on, and the artworks may be viewed on The Steinway piano does not currently appear on any public databases.

Jonathan Frank, June 2020

Printed music
Manuscript music
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Date range -
Associated People and Organisations Alda Hoare 1861 - 1947 Emil Waldteufel - Tosti, Francesco Paolo - Francis Thomé - Henry Colt Arthur Hoare 1888 - 1917 Anne Tyrwhitt-Drake Hoare - 1847 Thomas Sternhold - John Hopkins - Giovanni Gallini - Burney, Charles - Ganer, Christopher - William Rock - Steinway - Thomas Chippendale - Samuel Woodforde - Anne Hoare 1737 - 1759 St George Hare - Justus Sustermans - Giacomo Francesco Cipper -
Associated Places
Associated Times 16th Century 17th Century 18th Century 19th Century 20th Century
Associated Content Piano music Songs Religious music Dance Music history and theory Piano
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National Trust, Stourhead

near Mere BA12 6QD Open Map
Building Information Palladian house and world-famous landscape garden.
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For details of other collections held at the same location: See the location record

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