The influence of recording and the record industry upon musical activity, as illustrated by the careers of Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Georg Solti and Sir Simon Rattle
The objective of this study is to determine the nature of the influence of recording and the recording industry upon musical activity. Sound recording is a major communications medium of the twentieth century. Yet there has been limited research into the influence of recording and the changes that it has driven. This study seeks to address this gap in understanding. The method chosen for the study was three separate case studies of the conductors Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Georg Solti and Sir Simon Rattle. Each of these musicians had a major recording career, and in Rattle's case continues to do so. The data used in the study was collected from three sources: firstly through interviews with those possessing professional experience of the case-study subjects and of the record industry; secondly from archival documentation; and thirdly through published press interviews and commentaries. The analysis of commonalities and differences between the case study subjects indicated that each was generally in control of their involvement with recording, rather than the reverse. Three areas were identified as being of key importance: the relationship with record companies and with personnel within these; control over repertoire decisions; and mastery of the act of recording. Based on the experience of the three case-study subjects, a model of the influence of recording has been constructed. This relates each stage of the technological development of recording to its immediate consequences and to ‘meta-consequences', or the more far-reaching influences of recording. The principal ‘meta-consequences' are seen as being: an increase in knowledge; changes in performance standards; and the introduction of the idea of ethics into recording, with a re-emphasis upon the importance of the musical ‘act'. The study concludes with a discussion of possible future areas of research into the influence of recording and the record industry.