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Classical music on UK radio 1945-1995.

Stoller, A. D., 2015. Classical music on UK radio 1945-1995. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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STOLLER, Tony_PhD_2015_ final 20.6.15.pdf



This thesis comprises the first comprehensive narrative account of the history of classical music radio in the UK between 1945 and 1995, from before the launch of the Third Programme until after the launch of Classic FM. It describes and analyses the rich range of output across all relevant radio stations in this period, rebutting the conventional assumption that this aspect of British radio was simply about the Third Programme and Radio 3. At almost all times during the second half of the 20th Century, those stations were not the majority providers of classical music radio. Classical music radio over these years was marked by a series of high points, when the provision of elite and popular output combined to open the genre to a wide range of listeners; and then by a series of retreats from those summits. During three spells – the late Forties, the late Sixties and the early Nineties – a multi-channel offering of both highbrow and middlebrow music, linked and presented in an accessible way, achieved broad appeal and wide audiences, and realised the potential for this public good. The classical music programming of Independent Local Radio between 1973 and 1990 did the same in individual localities, to a previously unappreciated extent. This new narrative history of classical music radio in the UK highlights and is dominated by the dialectic between highbrow and popular culture, between elite and demotic taste, and between a class-based and a classless approach to radio broadcasting. Original audience data demonstrate a consistent potential audience for classical music radio of some five to six million throughout these years, provided listeners felt they were allowed to listen in. Original content analysis demonstrates a canonic repertoire of classical music radio, arrived at and maintained on a reflexive basis between the producers and the consumers of this genre, centred on the works of 19th Century European composers. That canon has remained largely unchallenged except at the popular margins, in contrast to modern approaches to the literary canon, and distinguishes classical music from other art forms. This account illustrates a particular aspect of listening, whereby classical music radio can validly be both foreground and background. The influence of individuals, and therefore the relevance of biography within this history, is shown to be significant, but overall less important than the social, political, cultural and economic context in which the radio services operated, and which shaped their output. Classical music radio is an archetypal element of public service radio broadcasting. This narrative shows that it has been provided during this period by stations outside the main cultural cohort, even from 1973 outside the BBC. As such, it challenges institutional definitions of public service broadcasting, and demonstrates how relationships between the producers of radio and its consumers can operate at many levels, testifying to the multi-threaded tapestry of UK cultural life as a whole in the second half of the 20th century.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
ID Code:22422
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:10 Sep 2015 10:38
Last Modified:09 Aug 2022 16:03


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