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Title: Recording classical music in Britain : the long 1950s
Author: Curran, Terence William
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 5462
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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During the 1950s the experience of recording was transformed by a series of technical innovations including tape recording, editing, the LP record, and stereo sound. Within a decade recording had evolved into an art form in which multiple takes and editing were essential components in the creation of an illusory ideal performance. The British recording industry was at the forefront of development, and the rapid growth in recording activity throughout the 1950s as companies built catalogues of LP records, at first in mono but later in stereo, had a profound impact on the music profession in Britain. Despite this, there are few documented accounts of working practices, or of the experiences of those involved in recording at this time, and the subject has received sparse coverage in academic publications. This thesis studies the development of the recording of classical music in Britain in the long 1950s, the core period under discussion being 1948 to 1964. It begins by considering the current literature on recording, the cultural history of the period in relation to classical music, and the development of recording in the 1950s. Oral history informs the central part of the thesis, based on the analysis of 89 interviews with musicians, producers, engineers and others involved in recording during the 1950s and 1960s. The thesis concludes with five case studies, four of significant recordings - Tristan und Isolde (1952), Peter Grimes (1958), Elektra (1966-67), and Scheherazade (1964) - and one of a television programme, The Anatomy of a Record (1975), examining aspects of the recording process. The thesis reveals the ways in which musicians, producers, and engineers responded to the challenges and opportunities created by advances in technology, changing attitudes towards the aesthetics of performance on record, and the evolving nature of practices and relationships in the studio. It also highlights the wider impact of recording on musical practice and its central role in helping to raise standards of musical performance, develop audiences for classical music, and expand the repertoire in concert and on record.
Supervisor: Clarke, Eric Sponsor: James Ingham Halstead Scholarship ; Crowther Fund ; Pollard Fund ; Wadham Society
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Music--20th century--History and criticism ; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History ; Sound recording industry--Great Britain--History--20th century ; Music--Recording and producing ; Sound recording executives and producers--Great Britain ; Musicians--20th century ; Performance practice (Music)--History--20th century