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A Culture of Recording: Christopher Raeburn and the Decca Record Company

Drew, Sally Elizabeth (2018) A Culture of Recording: Christopher Raeburn and the Decca Record Company. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the working culture of the Decca Record Company, and how group interaction and individual agency have made an impact on the production of music recordings. Founded in London in 1929, Decca built a global reputation as a pioneer of sound recording with access to the world’s leading musicians. With its roots in manufacturing and experimental wartime engineering, the company developed a peerless classical music catalogue that showcased technological innovation alongside artistic accomplishment. This investigation focuses specifically on the contribution of the recording producer at Decca in creating this legacy, as can be illustrated by the career of Christopher Raeburn, the company’s most prolific producer and specialist in opera and vocal repertoire. It is the first study to examine Raeburn’s archive, and is supported with unpublished memoirs, private papers and recorded interviews with colleagues, collaborators and artists. Using these sources, the thesis considers the history and functions of the staff producer within Decca’s wider operational structure in parallel with the personal aspirations of the individual in exerting control, choice and authority on the process and product of recording. Having been recruited to Decca by John Culshaw in 1957, Raeburn’s fifty-year career spanned seminal moments of the company’s artistic and commercial lifecycle: from assisting in exploiting the dramatic potential of stereo technology in Culshaw’s Ring during the 1960s to his serving as audio producer for the 1990 The Three Tenors Concert international phenomenon. The thesis discusses the significance of Raeburn’s connections and background influences in his long career path, while a series of case studies drawn from his archive, illustrating exceptional examples of recording practice and artist cultivation, aim to identify his production ethos in the context of company recording policy and subject to the challenges of a rapidly-evolving industry.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Music (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Sally Elizabeth Drew
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2019 15:21
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2020 00:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23160

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