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Week 2 in summary

Congratulations on completing the second week!

I hope you’ve found the discussions and listening exercises engaging and that we’ve helped to illustrate how and why electronic music in England differed to that of Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. We’ve covered the dominant techniques of electronic music, as well as the centres and practitioners of electronic music that emerged in England at the time.

Hopefully it is clear that, without strong support in England much of the responsibility for composing electronic music in England fell to a core group of enthusiasts who operated in fringe circles of the cultural institutions of the time. Perhaps it is not surprising then that our knowledge of many of the early innovators of electronic music in England are so unknown, and that there are so many more people who were making electronic music at the time whose music was lost to the aether.

With this in mind, next week we will turn to look at one such figure, Roberto Gerhard. Gerhard was a classical composer who emigrated to England to escape the Spanish civil war. He became most well-known for his symphonies and chamber ensemble pieces, but for much of his life he was most widely known for his composition for theatre and radio. He was also one of the earliest composers of electronic music in England, establishing his home studio a few years prior to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. His extensive contribution to electronic music in England is largely documented by his 600 reel-to-reel tape archive.

We will discuss that archive in week 4, but for next week we will look at the figure of Roberto Gerhard and how he operated as many others did as an amateur electronic music composer in England.

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English Electronic Music: Delve into the Digital Archives

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