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Title: Progressive ideals and the promotion of 'high' culture : classical music in British adult education, c.1945-1965
Author: Woodbury, Beau
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 5825
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines the promotion of classical music through adult education in Britain during the first two decades following the Second World War. In doing so, it illuminates the relationship between progressive political ideals (namely, democratisation and egalitarianism) and ideas about 'high' culture in Britain during the immediate post-war era. A number of prominent musical figures were associated with adult education institutions during this period. This thesis focuses on their activities at university 'extramural' departments and adult colleges. In addition to possessing generally left-leaning political outlooks, these figures contributed to a common musical project. This sought to reorient the culture of classical music in Britain, and thus elevate British culture more broadly, by reforming music education in general and adult musical education in particular. Ultimately, it sought to place classical music in Britain on more secure intellectual, aesthetic, and social foundations. Encouraged by developments within the expanding post-war adult education sector, reformist approaches to adult musical education circulated increasingly widely from the late 1940s onwards. The results draw attention to the ways in which both 'high' culture and middle-class identity were being re-thought in the immediate postwar era. They also present a picture of gradual cultural change during this period, with visions of cultural reform which centred on 'high' culture being guided by, and applying, progressive ideals throughout. Both democratisation and egalitarianism, however, were defined in particular ways within adult musical education, and they were realised unevenly in practice. Examining adult musical education in the immediate post-war era also shows how progressive ideals, in shaping ideas about 'high' culture, were interacting with ideals of voluntarism and individualism. The degree to which both individualism and authenticity were emphasised within adult education's promotion of 'high' culture, meanwhile, suggests that these ideals were shaping post-war British culture from the outset.
Supervisor: Grimley, Matthew Sponsor: Wolfson Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History