EARLY RECORDINGS: THE IMPACTS OF A TRANSFORMATIVE TECHNOLOGY
9.45 – 10.00 Arrival and Welcome
10.00 – 10.45 Session 1: Inja Stanović (University of Huddersfield): New Takes on Old Machines
10.45 – 11.00 Break
11.00 – 12.30
Session 2: Karina Zybina (Mozarteum University Salzburg): Recording music, re-creating national identity: Music recording industry in Russia in the early 20th-century; Will Prentice (British Library): Early recordings as social history in the Caucasus & Central Asia; Susan Daniels (King’s College London): 1939 and the Early Recordings of Oiseau Lyre: Championing the National
Lunch 12.30 – 13.15
13.15 – 14.15 Parallel sessions
Session 3: Bennett Hogg (Newcastle University): Ecosystems of History: Cultural Imaginings of the Early Recorded Voice; Daniele Palma (University of Florence): The Gramophone and the Voice. Discourses on Singing in the Cultural Domain of Sound Reproduction (1900-1950).
Session 4: Chelsey Zimmerman (University of Limerick): ‘Sligo in the Big Apple’: The Role of Early 20th Century Recordings of Irish Traditional Music in the Imagination and Perception of Authenticity; Niall Keegan (University of Limerick?): ‘The Ballroom Favourite’ – John McKenna and the Invention of the Irish Flute
14.15 – 14.30 Break
14.30 – 16.00 Parallel sessions
Session 5: Andrew Hallifax (King’s College London): The Grünfeld Defence and the historiography of acoustic recording – a reappraisal; George Kennaway (University of Leeds): Broken Melodies: Auguste van Biene’s sentimental performances and their legacy; Emily Worthington (University of Huddersfield) Individualism, corporate identity and the development of playing style in the recordings of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Philharmonic Orchestra, 1930-39.
Session 6: Ferenc János Szabó (Research Centre for the Humanities, Budapest): Technically excellent, musically deficient – a case study of the Hungarian sound recordings of The Gramophone Company made in 1911; Timur Sijaric (University of Vienna) & Damir Imamović: Records Shuffling History. Reading Sevdah’s Earliest Recordings; Néstor Dueñas-Torres (Universidad Nacional de Colombia): The transnationalism of bambuco in the hands of the Colombian troubadours, Pelón and Marín.
16.00 – 16.20 Break
16.20 – 17.20 Roundtable: Amy Blier-Carruthers (Royal Academy of Music), Tim Boon (Science Museum), Daniel Leech-Wilkinson (King’s College London), Janet Topp-Fargion (British Library) and Richard Wistreich (Royal College of Music). Chair: Georgia Volioti (University of Surrey)
Barbara Gentili (Cardiff University)
Trevor Herbert (Royal College of Music)
Eva Moreda Rodriguez (University of Glasgow)
Richard Wistreich (Royal College of Music)
We are especially grateful to Martin Skamletz (Hochschule der Künste Bern, Institut Interpretation) for the expert technical support he will be proving during the day.
Abstracts and Biographies
Susan Daniels (King’s College London)
1939 and the Early Recordings of Oiseau Lyre: Championing the National
On 18 February 1939, Éditions de l’Oiseau Lyre (EOL) held a concert at the Salle Gaveau, Paris. Advertised widely across Parisian daily and musical press, its purpose was to showcase through live performance a selection of works available from the newly created Oiseau Lyre (OL) record label: established in 1938 and fashioned to complement the firm’s publications, its formation was without precedent. In the six years since EOL launched in Paris with the Œuvres complète de François Couperin (1933) the firm had delivered sixty-seven publications and 140 78-rpm recordings and its Australian founder, Louise Dyer, had been recognised as an important cultural producer — she was awarded Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 1934 — who provided editorial, publishing and recording opportunities for musicologists, composers and performers that were otherwise limited by the precarious political and financial circumstances of les années trente.
The label become a member of the avant-garde in recording music of French origin across time, an activity which also served the Republic’s cultural agenda. The concert provides a way of considering to what extent Dyer’s policy of recording music from the firm’s print catalogue influenced her decisions concerning with whom to work. It also provides an opportunity to explore what these choices can tell us about those involved, and the performing fashions in France at this time.
Susan Daniels returned to full time study following an international career advising and leading cultural institutions. Her PhD is on the influence of Louise Dyer and her company Les Editions de L’Oiseau Lyre, on Early Music 1932-1962.
Néstor Dueñas-Torres (Universidad Nacional de Colombia)
The transnationalism of bambuco in the hands of the Colombian troubadours, Pelón and Marín.
In Colombia, the Victor Talking Machine Company made sound expeditions in 1913 in order to make sound recordings of local repertoire (defined by intermediaries) on 78-shellac discs, and then sell them as a final product in the international market. However, five years earlier, in Mexico City, the duet formed by Pedro León Franco and Adolfo Marín (Pelón y Marín), also known as “Los Trovadores Colombianos”, recorded what is considered the first commercial recordings of Colombian popular music. The duet, formed in Colombia in 1903, went on tour in 1907, and after passing through Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Cuba, arrived in Mexico in 1908. His first stop was Yucatan, then they went to Veracruz, and finally settled in Mexico City where they signed a contract with the phonographic company Columbia Records for USD$400 with whom they recorded about forty songs, among which is the bambuco, El enterrador (the gravedigger), and the pasillo, Jamas (Never). The contribution of these troubadours, in addition to sing romantic songs accompanied by string instruments (tiple and guitar), was to take the bambuco to other latitudes outside of Colombia. Pelón and Marín were responsible for generating some internationalization of Colombian music, and even for planting what was called the Yucatecan song or Yucatecan bambuco, a hybrid of music influenced by exotic trends from Cuba and Colombia.
Néstor Dueñas-Torres is graduated of the Master in Musicology from the National University of Colombia, and a graduate of the Music Business and Recording Arts program at Full Sail University. He was a cellist in the Colombian Youth Symphony Orchestra, and bass player in popular music groups. He currently plays tiple, an instrument in which he started from a young age. He has composed music for documentaries and has experience in music production, audio post-production for video, sound design, location sound, and podcasting. Currently, he is dedicated to musical research on issues related to the cultural industry, rock in Spanish and music history. He is also a teacher and runs his recording studio, Independencia Grita. In addition, he collaborates with the management of networks, produces and edits the podcast of the Master in Musicology at the National University, and is a member of the IMS.
Andrew Hallifax (King’s College London)
The Grünfeld Defence and the historiography of acoustic recording – a reappraisal
The musical life and career of Austrian pianist Alfred Grünfeld (1852-1924) neatly parallels the rise and demise of acoustical recording technology. He died just as electrical recording was poised to supersede its precursor. If renown during his lifetime depended, in part, on his recordings, his reputation, like the mechanical craft that helped sustain it, was destined to wane. Despite being the first pianist to record a number of compositions that today fall within the canon of western art music Grünfeld’s enduring reputation is that of an immensely popular salon pianist; a derogation of his contribution both to pianism and to the history of recorded sound. In addition to works by Bach, Liszt, Schubert, and Schumann, Grünfeld was the first to record many of his own, now largely neglected compositions as well as, and perhaps more importantly, those of his contemporaries; Brahms, Debussy, Grieg,Moszkowski, Paderewski, and Poldini.
If present-day acclaim for Grünfeld is more muted than it was in his own time it is surely due, in part, to the limited availability of his recordings; the few that have been re-issued being no longer readily obtainable. Historic recordings yield little commercial value these days; least of all those from the acoustical era, the quality of which we’ve been taught to disparage. Yet Grünfeld’s recorded oeuvre contests such presumptuous disregard: both technically and artistically.
This paper takes the opportunity, afforded by a commission to remaster Grünfeld’s oeuvre for re-release, to probe and re-evaluate the putative deficiencies inherent in acoustical recording technology.
Andrew Hallifax is an independent acoustical music recording engineer and producer. He is also a re-mastering engineer and digitisation consultant for shellac 78rpm disc recordings for both archival and for commercial purposes. He is currently Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London.
Bennett Hogg (Newcastle University)
Ecosystems of History: Cultural Imaginings of the Early Recorded Voice
Though we cannot hear early recordings with the ears of those contemporaneous to their making, we can, through attending to literature and other sites of cultural imagining, construct a picture of the different factors that informed how early recorded voices might have been experienced, and the range of meanings that may have accrued to them. The value of this to current research is to “thicken” the understanding of the recorded voice, thinking of early recordings as carrying more than simply the sound of the voice, and instead situating these recorded voices within a broader cultural “ecosystem” which, in its turn, may nuance how we use and understand such recordings in the present day; something particularly pertinent to artistic research that seeks to creatively engage with such materials and practices. The ghostly and disembodied associations of recorded voices are well documented, but the dominant model for sound recordings – in conformity to the etymology of the word “recording” – remains memory. As a complement to this, the paper proposes the alternative model of metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls, which contextualises the early recorded voice with the cultural imaginary of its creation, and affords the construction of associative networks of meaning congruent with the idea of metempsychosis – from the Greek myth of Echo, reduced to an imitative voice, through to Scottish ballads such as The Two Sisters, or the Grimms’ folktale forming the basis for Mahler’s Das klagende Lied, where voices of murdered women sing, literally animating (ensouling) previously inanimate instruments.
Bennett Hogg is a senior lecture in music at Newcastle University, as well as a composer, improviser, folk musician, and cultural theorist. His PhD thesis examined the cultural imagination of the recorded voice in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and he has written and researched extensively on different approaches to understanding sound technologies culturally. Alongside his theoretical work he is also an active artistic researcher in the field of composition and environmental sound art. He formed and led the AHRC-funded Landscape Quartet from 2012-2014, and was Austrian Science Fund research fellow at the Kunst Universitat, Graz from March to August 2014. His collaboration with Prof Magnus Williamson, Lost Voices, for Cheeseburn Grange Sculpture Gardens is the most recent of his artistic research projects investigating the cultural imagination of the disembodied voice.
Niall Keegan (University of Limerick) ‘The Ballroom Favourite’ – John McKenna and the Invention of the Irish Flute The wooden, conically-bored precursor to the contemporary orchestral flute is nowadays popularly perceived to be an ‘Irish’ flute. This instrument, now seen as central to the Irish music and related traditions, came to Ireland in the second half of the nineteenth century and was adapted by peasant musicians preoccupied with playing ‘Irish’ and more popular dance musics of the day. Pivotal in the history of this instrument in Ireland and its acceptance into the heart of the traditional music canon was one flute player, John McKenna (1880 – 1947) from the Leitrim / Roscommon Border. McKenna joined the many Irish who emigrated to New York at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. McKenna made a significant contribution to recordings of commercial traditional music by Irish musicians in this period, vital in the establishment of ideas of authenticity and identity for an aural, ethnic music. These recordings are now valorised by communities of musicians in Ireland and across the Irish diaspora as central in defining authenticity for Irish flute playing. However, what is often overlooked is the fact that John McKenna’s was a new music. He reinterpreted techniques from other instrumental traditions on this new instrument and performed repertoires that were peculiar to the new commercial and popular environments of New York (the ‘Ballroom’) at the start of the twentieth century. This music was created and mediated through new technological environments that transformed the role and sound of music everywhere. This paper will examine the themes of tradition, authenticity and identity as creative acts of one musician, as well as communities of practice, over the past century-and-a-half. It will demonstrate how this has occurred in theultural, economic, social and technological flows of the period through a critical and performative engagement of sound and tradition.
Biography Niall Keegan was born in the south east of England and began playing flute at an early age amongst the community of first and second generation Irish traditional musicians. Niall is the founding course director of the BA Performing Arts and the MA in Traditional Irish Music Performance at the University of Limerick and teaches on the MA Ethnomusicology and other programs there. He has taught at most Irish Universities as well as the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki; Newcastle University; Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow; Birzeit University, Palestine; and Addis Ababa University, among others. Niall has performed extensively across the globe in a variety of contexts. His research is primarily concerned with cognitive structures used by traditional musicians to organise their oral music in a literate world, as well as other issues that engage traditional and popular music in the contemporary scene. He has been on the committee of the Folk Music Society of Ireland and Director of the University of Limerick based project Nomad (honouring the music cultures of traveling people).
George Kennaway (University of Huddersfield)
‘Broken Melodies: Auguste van Biene’s sentimental performances and their legacy’
The cellist Auguste van Biene (1849-1913) was one of the most well-known musicians in Britain at the turn of the last century. The play written as a vehicle for him, The Broken Melody (1892), ran for over 6000 performances in the UK, the USA, South Africa, and Australia. The play’s eponymous musical composition was recorded several times by van Biene himself, once in a version in which he acted the scene from play. Many other cellists performed ‘The Broken Melody’ including W.H. Squire, Rosario Bourdon, and Cecil Sharpe, and it was arranged for other instruments and recorded by violinists such as Eddy Brown. There were also several orchestral arrangements, the latest of which was issued in 1956. The play was the source for a much altered screenplay for the film Broken Melody (1934) whose soundtrack includes the melody at one point, and the melody also plays a central role in the best-selling novel The Broken Melody (1930) by the Australian F.J. Thwaites (also made into a film in 1938). Auguste van Biene’s recordings of ‘The Broken Melody’, his own version of the ‘Kol Nidrei’, and Ketèlbey’s ‘The Phantom Melody’, are striking for his extreme level of portamento, an expressive device that was increasingly to be questioned in the following years. Nonetheless, his sentimental performance style retained audiences. Van Biene was adept at exploiting commercial success in the popular theatre and music hall, and the popularity of his most famous composition lasted long after his death – on stage, while playing a similar role in a different play. His performances offer a different perspective on string performance at the time, identified with popular theatre rather than the concert hall. Other cellists of the period such as W.H. Squire recorded a more diverse repertoire from ballad concert pieces to concertos and chamber music, but van Biene occupied a more well-defined place in the musical market. In this he was not unique – the cellist Gwen Farrar (1899-1942) played with Billy Mayerl and performed as a duo in music halls with Nora Blaney – but he was strikingly successful in establishing ‘The Broken Melody’ as a familiar piece to be heard on record for several decades.
Dr George Kennaway is a cellist, conductor, teacher, and musicologist, who studied at the universities of Newcastle and Oxford, the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Guildhall School of Music, and the University of Leeds. He now holds visiting research fellowships at the Universities of Leeds and Huddersfield. He was co-principal cello in the Orchestra of Opera North 1979-2008, and now regularly appears as a soloist and chamber music player, on modern, 19th-century, and baroque cello. He was a member of the CHASE research project in 19th-century music editions at the University of Leeds, Director of Music at the University of Hull, and lecturer in early music for the University of Newcastle. George is a member of the Meiningen Ensemble, a chamber group which explores practical applications of historical research to the 19th-century repertoire. His publications include Playing the Cello 1780-1930 (Ashgate, 2014) and articles and book chapters on textual and theoretical aspects of 19th-century performance research. Forthcoming publications include John Gunn: Musician Scholar in Enlightenment Britain (Boydell) and book chapters on 19th-century concepts of musicality, aspects of early 20th-century tonality, musical biographies, and on early recordings of cellists.
Daniel Leech-Wilkinson is Emeritus Professor of Music at King’s College London. He works on the politics and practice of performance expressivity. Recent publications include Music and Shape (edited with Helen Prior, 2018); ‘Moral judgement in response to performances of western art music’ in ed. Aguilar et al., Remixing Music Studies (2020); Challenging Performance: Classical Music Performance Norms and How to Escape Them (2020: https://challengingperformance.com/the-book/); and ‘Secure and insecure bases in the performance of western classical music’ in ed. Hennion & Levaux, Rethinking Music Through Science and Technology Studies (2021).
Daniele Palma (University of Florence)
The Gramophone and the Voice. Discourses on Singing in the Cultural Domain of Sound Reproduction (1900-1950)
In his doctoral dissertation, Bennett Hogg (2008) illustrated the emergence of a cultural imagination of the phonographic voice in early-twentieth-century literary sources, spanning from writings by the Frankfurt School to the thinking of French Surrealists. The scholar looked at the transformative impact of phonography as a particular example of the problematic of the “human” in relation to “technology,” adopting a Lacanian perspective to explore the multiple conceptual configurations of voice in the cultural domain of sound reproduction.
In this paper, I seek both to specialise the field of enquiring, by taking into account the peculiar case of the operatic voice, and to extend it to narratives coming from inside the world of recorded music. Drawing on the concept of ‘phonograph effect’ by Mark Katz (2010) and on ideas by French sociologists Antoine Hennion and Sophie Maisonneuve regarding the social construction of the gramophone as a medium (Hennion et al. 2000; Maisonneuve 2009), I analyse advertisings, record reviews, and articles on opera and singers in Anglo-American phonographic periodicals from the first half of the twentieth century. I focus on two recurring themes in discourses concerning the relationship between singing and sound reproduction technology: the debate about the existence (or not) of a ‘recording voice,’ and the search for ‘atmosphere’ in operatic records, which is related to the ideal of fidelity to the work and to how it should sound. My aim is to reconstruct the semantic frame in which operatic recordings found their ways to their ‘users’, showing how transformation of discourses signalled changes in values, expectations, and practices.
Daniele Palma is a PhD candidate in History of Performing Arts at the University of Florence, working on early recordings of Italian opera tenors. He is a member of the PRIN (Project of Significant National Interest) research team Heritage, Festival, Archives. Music and Performing Practices of Oral Tradition in the 21st Century, funded by the Italian Government (PI: Prof. Giovanni Giuriati, University “La Sapienza” – Rome). He has been selected by the British Library as Edison Fellow for 2019/2020. Besides his musicological studies, in 2009 he graduated in Organ at the Conservatory of Monopoli. He studies as a tenor, working both as a chorister and a soloist in Italian operatic and baroque institutions such as AsLiCo and Costanzo Porta Choir Cremona.
Will Prentice (British Library)
Early recordings as social history in the Caucasus & Central Asia
Between 1902 and 1918, the Gramophone Company of London instigated an ambitious commercial recording programme in the Caucasus and Central Asia, making and selling discs of indigenous music throughout the region. Several recording trips were made producing over 4,000 recordings, of which over 3,500 were commercially released at the time. Although several other companies gained a foothold, the Gramophone Company comfortably held the lion’s share of the market there.
The potential importance of these recordings in the (re)construction of cultural identities following the profound changes throughout the region is clear. To what degree might they accurately represent the cultural landscape of the pre-revolutionary Caucasus and Central Asia? Using contemporary internal company documentation, this paper will attempt to recontextualise the body of recordings by exploring the history of their making, considering the company’s rationale in selecting artists and repertoire, the relationships between the company and their artists, the impact of technological limitations on the recorded results, and what the surviving documentation can tell us about the impact such recordings had on local audiences.
Will Prentice has been a sound archivist at the British Library since 1999, where he is currently the Training Manager for the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project. He is the Chair of the Training & Education Committee and member of the Technical Committee for the International Association for Sound & Audiovisual Archives. He serves as a Trustee of the EMI Archive Trust.
Timur Sijaric (University of Vienna) & Damir Imamović (independent music researcher & writer)
Records Shuffling History. Reading Sevdah’s Earliest Recordings
The multimedia exhibition “Sevdah, the art of freedom” ( Imamović , 2015) introduced for the first time to the public a series of earliest recordings of traditional music of Bosnia and Herzegovina and has since changed the discourse on the history of Sevdah, a genre frequently recognized as the country’s auditory cultural heritage. These commercial field records, provided by EMI Archives Trust, were produced by The Gramphone Company in the period of 1907–1909. The recordings prove to be immensely important for the understanding of not only the historical and social factors that mirrored the turbulent years of the early 20th century in the region, but also the aesthetic and stylistic changes in the music practices that have transpired since. Many commonly held views that became central to the oral tradition of Sevdah after the Second World War need to be reinterpreted in light of these recordings. This paper aims to demonstrate the manifold aspects of the recordings and their impact and diverging effect on the representation and the mediality of Sevdah. Provided through the early recordings, a cultural, (trans)national and gender identification of the performers and their musical output opens up a seldom heard world, transfiguring the perception and reception of individual stories and of an entire genre.
Damir Imamović (1978) is a musician, independent music researcher and writer from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He released six traditional music albums between 2006 and 2020, cooperating with labels such as Glitterbeat Records and Wrasse Records and producers such as Chris Eckman and Joe Boyd. Imamović regularly tours Europe, the United States, Mexico, China, India with his different music groups including musicians such as Derya Türkan, Greg Cohen, Bojan Z, Eric Vloeimans. Since 2011 he gave numerous lectures and workshops on traditional music of the Balkans, currated a multimedia exhibition “Sevdah, the art of freedom“ (2015) and released the first history of Sevdah music (“Sevdah“, 2016).
Timur Sijaric (1990) studied saxophone at the Conservatory of Vienna, composition at Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna and currently studies musicology at University of Vienna. From 2016 to 2017 Sijaric worked as a teaching assistant at the Institute for Science and Research of Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna. Since 2018 he has been employed as a research assistant at the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage (Musicology Department) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Music in the service of propaganda and image-building processes, audio-visuality and mediality of music constitute his field of research.
Inja Stanović (University of Huddersfield)
New Takes on Old Machines
Records from the beginning of the twentieth-century are an inexhaustible source of information and inspiration in performance practice research. The mechanical recording processes used in the production of such records, however, are highly mysterious and, as such, have received relatively little scholarly attention; listening provides relatively few clues, testimonials fewer still, and even photographs showing recording sessions of the time were often staged, with the recording machinery out of sight in order to protect the secretive process each company developed. In order to demystify mechanical recording processes, this lecture-recital presents various recording options drawn from a group of experiments conducted in the final year of (Re)constructing Early Recordings: a guide for historically-informed performance, a three-year project supported by the Leverhulme Fund and University of Huddersfield which focusses upon the production of early recordings made with mechanical technologies. By presenting a selection of recorded materials, and discussing mechanical recording technologies used during the recording process, the lecture-recital suggests ways in which technological and reconstructive contexts form a redefinition of strategies of documentation, thus influencing future readings of early recordings and historically informed practices.
This lecture-recital focuses upon late nineteenth century pianistic practices in context of mechanical recording sessions, and explores the role of piano in context of chamber music settings with violin, cello and horn.
Dr. Inja Stanović is a Croatian pianist and researcher, born in Zagreb and currently residing in Sheffield, UK. As a pianist, Inja has performed in Croatia, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Mexico, the UK, and the US. She finished her PhD at the University of Sheffield, focusing on nineteenth-century performance practices relating to the work of Frédéric Chopin. Besides being an active pianist, Inja is a published author and has held various academic posts, including research fellowship at the Sydney Conservatoire and visiting lectureship at the Birmingham Conservatoire. Inja recently finished her Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Huddersfield, and currently conducts a research project which develops ways of repair of broken wax cylinders with 3M Buckley Innovation Centre in Huddersfield.
Ferenc János Szabó (Research Centre for the Humanities, Budapest)
Technically excellent, musically deficient – a case study of the Hungarian sound recordings of The Gramophone Company made in 1911
We have very little knowledge on the contemporary aesthetic appraisal of the early Hungarian sound recordings: the written sources rarely convey relevant information for the researchers of the 21st century. A rare exception is a 1911 correspondence of The Gramophone Company and its Hungarian General Agency. That year a series of recordings were made from Hungarian music by the recording expert George Walter Dillnutt, who visited Hungary for the first time. After listening to the test recordings, Heinrich Conrad, the director of the Hungarian General Agency wrote a long letter to the Head Office in which he detailed the musical faults of the recordings, and compared them to earlier Hungarian recordings. The cause of his criticism was that the recording expert was not familiar with the performance practice of the national styles he recorded, and it caused incorrect sonority on the recordings. However, Will Gaisberg, the director of the Recording Department found the new recordings better from technical aspects.
Thanks to the exact matrix and catalogue numbers given by Conrad in his letter, we can check his and Gaisberg’s opinion. By replicating the comparisons not only the questions of technical development and musical exactitude can be demonstrated, but also the responsibility of the local agent in musical issues. Furthermore, I will discuss the problems of the evaluation of onetime objections regarding early sound recordings through newly digitised copies. Finally, with the help of a later correspondence, I will contextualize the objections of Conrad in his own careerism.
The research was funded partly by the Research Group for Media Studies of the Research Centre for the Humanities (Hungarian Academy of Sciences), and the 2019 Richard Taylor Bursary of the City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society.
Ferenc János Szabó DLA, PhD(1985, Pécs), pianist and musicologist. Studied piano at the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy (Budapest) and chamber music at Kunstuniversität Graz. He has doctor’s degrees DLA as pianist (2012) and PhD in musicology (2018) (both summa cum laude). As a pianist, he won several prizes at international chamber music competitions. From March 2013 he has been senior lecturer and coach at the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy in the class of Éva Marton and Andrea Meláth.
From September 2011, he has worked at the Institute for Musicology (Research Centre for the Humanities, The Hungarian Academy of Sciences). His research fields are the history of Hungarian sound recordings and performance practice. He won several postdoctoral scholarships, including the Edison Fellowship of the British Library (2019) and the Richard Taylor Bursary of the City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society (2019).
Emily Worthington (University of Huddersfield)
Individualism, corporate identity and the development of playing style in the recordings of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Philharmonic Orchestra, 1930-39
The marked shift in orchestral performance styles during the 1920s and 1930s has been widely studied. It is commonly explained with reference to the advent of more rigorous rehearsal practices, and homogenisation and internationalisation resulting from the dissemination of playing styles through recordings. However, these explanations fail to account for the complex nature of agency and decision-making in orchestral music making. Moreover, poor documentation of orchestral players’, as opposed to conductors’, experiences makes it challenging to establish a direct casual link between these commonly-cited explanations and specific instances of orchestral musicians altering their practice in the recording studio and concert stage.
This paper addresses this problem through case studies of the wind sections of two orchestras founded in the early 1930s: the BBC Symphony Orchestra, directed by Adrian Boult, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Thomas Beecham. As the first two London orchestras using salaried musicians, these ensembles are regularly credited with revolutionising the standard of orchestral playing in London. Far from being a stepping stone towards a homogenised, internationalised, ‘modern’ orchestra sound, however, the playing styles of both orchestras were highly contrasting. Examples from their recordings, contextualised by documentary evidence of the interactions between the individual players and the orchestras’ leadership, demonstrates how these styles developed. This shows that while the financial resources and exposure provided by the emergent recording and broadcasting industries established the conditions for orchestral style change, the characteristics of each orchestra’s approach resulted from a complex interplay of individual personalities and collective training.
Emily Worthington is Senior Lecturer in Music Performance at the University of Huddersfield, where she co-directs the Research Centre in Performance Practices. Emily’s research interests include both practice-based and archival approaches to musical culture in from the late-18th to the mid-20th century, the history of recording and broadcasting (particularly the early BBC), performance practice 1750-1950, and woodwind performance and repertoire.
Emily is much in demand as a period clarinetist, and regularly appears as a guest principal with orchestras around the world. Emily also co-directs Boxwood & Brass, a historical ‘Harmonie’ or wind ensemble specializing in research-based explorations of Classical and Romantic repertoire. The ensemble’s debut CD Music for a Prussian Salon (2016) received widespread critical praise, and their much-anticipated new recording project Beethoven Transformed (vol. 1 2019, vol. 2 forthcoming 2020) has been called ‘dazzlingly persuasive’ by BBC Music Magazine.
Chelsey Zimmerman (University of Limerick)
“Sligo in the Big Apple”: The Role of Early 20th Century Recordings of Irish Traditional Music in the Imagination and Perception of Authenticity
This paper examines the way the Irish traditional music recordings made by musicians who emigrated to New York City in the early 20th century are perceived in relation to issues of authenticity and tradition. Using ethnographic interviews, it demonstrates that many consider the recording artists to have been extraordinarily talented and influential in the preservation of the tradition. While a commonly held notion is that the recording artists’ playing styles were set in Ireland, many state that famous fiddler, Michael Coleman, and his contemporaries had a distinctly personal, virtuosic flair that set them apart from a “basic” older style. This paper references the discourse surrounding authenticity in Irish traditional music, examining the assertion that these recordings are authentic, yet innovative, without having substantial evidence of what music in Ireland sounded like at the time. These recordings also play a central role in the development of the regional mapping of styles in Ireland, which is fundamental in the construction of authenticity in this context. The imagination of “Sligo” as a pillar of tradition is studied through publications by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (2017), Oisín Mac Diarmada (2011), Daithí Gormley (2017), and Seán Ó Riada (1982). The idea of these recordings as a symbol of tradition is interrogated through the theoretical perspectives from ethnomusicologists, folklorists, and anthropologists like Arjun Appadurai (1996), Scott Reiss (2003), Phillip Bohlman (1988), and Regina Bendix (1997) surrounding the movement and re-creation of culture. This theoretical work is useful in displaying how many musicians use these recordings as a symbolic means of reimagining authentic Irishness and affirming their identities.
Chelsey Zimmerman is a music teacher, Irish traditional and classical flutist, and doctoral scholar at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Her Ph.D. research explores the engagement of early 20th century Irish traditional recording artists with the social and historical context of New York City and the impact it had on their music. Chelsey holds a Master of Arts in Irish Music Studies from the University of Limerick and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Karina Zybina (Mozarteum University Salzburg)
Recording music, re-creating national identity: Music recording industry in Russia in the early twentieth-century
In 1878, one of the most popular Russian newspapers “The North Bulletin” informed its readers about the sensational invention of Thomas Edison: the phonograph. Just one year later, this device was presented to a wider Russian audience during the three-day event hosted by the Moscow Museum of Applied Knowledge. Marking the advent of the sound recording era in Russia, this presentation became the first step towards developing Russian music recording industry that burst into bloom around the beginning of the twentieth century. The crucial turning point was reached in 1899, when Sophia Medvedeva’s vocal ensemble recorded a sample of Russian folk songs issued by the E. Berliner Gramophone company in London.
Drawing upon extensive data amassed from two nearly unexplored Russian archive collections, the Russian National Museum of Music named after M. Glinka and the Russian State Archive of Recordings (RGAFD), this paper traces the history of the Russian music industry from 1899 to 1917. Its focus is on the repertorial policies and basic performance strategies that characterize the early recordings made in or for Russia. Viewing early Russian recordings as ʽdiscursive constructs, articulated through specific material and symbolic conditions’ (O’Flynn, 2007), I will investigate the ways they operated as sonic tools for staging national identity.
Karina Zybina is lecturer in Music at the University of Salzburg and the University Mozarteum and research assistant at the University Salzburg (the FWF project “Music Printing in German Speaking Lands: From the 1470s to the mid-sixteenth century”). Following a master’s degree in Russia (Moscow), she spent one year as an ESKAS researcher at the University of Zurich. In 2017, she completed her PhD thesis at the University Mozarteum Salzburg. From 2014 to 2017, she was active as a research assistant at the Eliette and Herbert von Karajan Institute Salzburg. Her current research project is dedicated to the reception, perception, and performance histories of W.A. Mozart’s unfinished compositions from the beginning the nineteenth century to the present day.