Philip Rupprecht, "Music, Bureaucracy, and the Production of Taste: Malcolm Arnold and the BBC in the 1950s"
Friday, February 12, 2021 - 9:30am to 11:00am
Please join the Franklin Humanities Institute for its Friday morning series, tgiFHI! tgiFHI gives Duke faculty in the humanities, interpretative social sciences and arts the opportunity to present their current research to their departmental (and interdepartmental) colleagues, students, and other interlocutors in their fields.
I pursue the elusive topic of taste in two registers – cultural-historical, and documentary-bureaucratic. The culture is mid-twentieth century British: a landscape riven physically by wartime bombing, and culturally by hierarchies of social class and artistic genre. With his tuneful and seemingly light-hearted symphonies, Malcolm Arnold delighted audiences while disappointing establishment critics. I situate Arnold’s art in the wider scene spanning modernist hostility to mass- or midcult productions, and the critiques of artistic elites voiced by Hoggart, Williams and others. As for the bureaucracy: enter BBC Radio, an institutional behemoth of taste-makers, programmers and producers, overseeing a national broadcasting network. Sampling the archive of 1940s and 50s BBC memos, I explore traces of an ongoing negotiation--whose music was played, and who decided?
Philip Rupprecht’s books include Britten’s Musical Language (2002) and British Musical Modernism (2015). His writings engage concepts of narrative and agency in both texted vocal and wordless instrumental genres, the trope of stereotype in the formation of national musical canons; and analyses of rhythm and groove. In 2017 he organized “British Music & Europe in the Age of Brexit,” a symposium for FHI’s Humanities Futures series. He was recently appointed co-editor of the “Music Since 1900” book series at Cambridge University Press.