Facing the Music: 20th-century Portraits of British Composers is the first in a series of three exhibitions at the Barber Institute in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Photograph of a man with a musical score projected on his face

Co-curated by MA History of Art postgraduate students Emily Cotterill, Qian Gao, Oliver McCall, Sophie Rycroft and Imogen Wiltshire, the exhibition presents a diverse range of images of twentieth-century British composers - including Edward Elgar (the University of Birmingham's first music professor), Granville Bantock, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, Harrison Birtwistle and Thomas Adès. 

The portraits have been selected from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection and include works by, amongst others, John Singer Sargent, Christopher Wood, Cecil Beaton, David Hockney and Tom Phillips. Facing the Music examines the ways in which composers have been represented by artists and explores the relationship between art and music which is embodied at the Barber Institute. 

The postgraduates have also chosen material from the University of Birmingham’s Special Collections, including original annotated scores and one of Elgar’s personal diaries, to complement the loans.

The exhibition is on 25 May - 28 August 2012,  Lady Barber Gallery. 

Gallery talk by the postgraduates: 'Facing the Music: An Introduction to the Exhibition' on Tuesday 29 May, 1.15 pm, Barber Institute

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