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The Robert Minter Collection: A Handlist of Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Trumpet Repertory

Trevor Herbert

Robert L. Minter 1949-81

Robert Lawrence Minter was born in Colombia in 1949. He was British and was educated at schools in Edinburgh, Dartford and Peterborough. He had a succession of occupations including computer operator, bus driver, courier and salesman of engine components, but his two major passions were flying and music, particularly trumpet music. The Royal Air Force refused his application to join as flight crew, so he borrowed money from a bank, ostensibly to buy a motor, and spent it on private flying lessons.

His musical interests were also nurtured through an informal route. He had little theoretical or practical training, but learned to read music and play the trumpet. He picked up the rules and conventions for music editing from text books, and became sufficiently adept to have editions published by the important publishing firm Musica Rara. Minter unearthed several obscure pieces and struck up friendships with many distinguished professionals. He was particularly skilled at finding his way into and around inaccessible libraries, and collected a large number of facsimiles of manuscripts and early publications.

On November 17 1981 he piloted a light aeroplane from Inverness to Glasgow. During the flight the weather deteriorated. He encountered difficulties over Callender, and, at 5pm in a snowstorm, crashed into Ben Ledi. He died in the crash.

After Robert Minter’s death, his parents, Betty and Alfred Minter, approached the Open University to enquire whether the collection of facsimiles he had amassed could be put to some profitable use. I travelled to the family home at Sandwich on the Kent coast, and only cursory examination was necessary to form the view that the collection was significant. Mr and Mrs Minter had neatly stored their son’s music in sixteen large crates; the crates contained films and facsimiles of more than twelve hundred pieces.

What follows has the appearance of a catalogue of the collections. I call it a ‘handlist’ rather than a catalogue. Many of the manuscripts did not carry identifications and others contained ambiguities that caused me to make educated judgements about them. It is more than possible that the handlist contains errors, so I have placed great emphasis on indicating wherever possible the location of the primary source.

Robert Minter   transcription in Robert Minter's own hand

Robert Minter and a copy of a transcription in his own hand.