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The modernisation of wind playing in London orchestras, 1909–1939: A study of playing style in early orchestral recordings

Worthington, Emily Claire (2013) The modernisation of wind playing in London orchestras, 1909–1939: A study of playing style in early orchestral recordings. PhD thesis, University of York.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

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This is a study of performing styles among wind players in London orchestras during the period 1909–1939. Existing scholarship relating to orchestral performance in London in the early twentieth century perpetuates the notion that playing standards were, at best, unreliable until the establishment of contracted orchestras in the 1930s. In addition, existing studies of wind playing in orchestral recordings pre-1930 suggest that a plain style prevailed, with little use of vibrato or tonal flexibility, until the French woodwind schools began to influence British practices in the late 1930s. Three London orchestras are considered through a combination of archival research and recording analysis. A case study of the New Symphony Orchestra (1905–1930) challenges the notion that pre-1930 London orchestras were ill-disciplined and lacking in corporate identity. The NSO’s recordings document a hyper-expressive performance style founded on the use of temporal flexibility, which bears relation to styles observed among pianists, singers and string players of the period. Attention then turns to London’s first ‘permanent’ orchestras, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Philharmonic Orchestra. Documentary evidence shows that the two ensembles were established to fulfill two very different ideals of orchestral performance and musical aesthetic. Comparison of the orchestras’ recordings is used to establish how this led to the emergence of two contrasting styles of playing in their wind sections, both of which nonetheless represented a move away from the style of the NSO. These strands are brought together to show how the advent of recording and broadcasting helped to facilitate the expression of changing musical aesthetics in the realm of orchestral wind playing, and how the historiographic prominence of the ‘permanent’ orchestras of the 1930s and their wind players has in turn distorted present- day views of orchestral and wind performing styles pre-1930.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: woodwind; BBC; HMV; broadcasting; sound recording history; historiography; orchestral performance; performance practice; twentieth century; London
Academic Units: The University of York > Music (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.581673
Depositing User: Emily Worthington
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2013 10:53
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:02
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4503

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