Musical Festivals Database

Musical Festivals Database

Charles Edward McGuire's main project as a Visiting Faculty Fellow is a book, The British Musical Festival, 1695-1940: A Social History of Taste, that documents the rich history of musical festivals in Great Britain. In the course of that work, he began assembling a database of British musical festivals. The side project soon took on a life of its own. Numerous students were recruited to scour the archives and digitize centuries worth of festival records. A website was created that allows users to search this rich historical trove.

The [Musical Festivals Database] was compiled initially to be the appendix for Charles Edward McGuire’s The British Musical Festival, 1695-1940: A Social History of Taste (under contract with Boydell & Brewer). The data collected soon outgrew what could be managed through typical indexing. The original data set was drawn from several hundred programs from British festivals, beginning in the 1720s and ending around 1940, and included tens of thousands of discreet pieces of information. After seeing the information McGuire had already compiled, Chris Borgmeyer of Crooked River Designs suggested creating a relational database to manage the materials and provide a platform for analysis. He designed the prototype in 2013 and created the platform for searching the materials in 2014.

As of April 1, 2017, the MFD contains information for about 501 festivals and complete programs for 438, from Bath to York. This includes information on the Birmingham, Crystal Palace Handel, Leeds, Norwich, and Three Choirs (Gloucester, Worcester, and Hereford) festivals, as well as festivals from Oxford and Cambridge. More information is being added each day. In the future, our hope is that we will have basic information the more than 1,600 festivals we have identified in this period.

The MFD aims to provide as much information as possible about each festival, including the repertoire presented, who performed it, and links to resources where the information was found.

The web site allows users to search the database, and also features a news page with helpful updates.


Charles Edward McGuire
Professor of Musicology