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Doctor, Jennifer R.

The BBC and the Ultra-modern Problem: A Documentary Study of the British Broadcasting Corporation's Dissemination of Second Viennese School Repertory, 1922-36

Ph.D. Northwestern University, 1993
(jennyd@jdsf.demon.co.uk)

This dissertation examines the BBC's campaign to increase the British public's awareness of contemporary music. It focuses on works by composers associated with Schoenberg's circle that were considered for broadcasting during the period between 1922, when the BBC was founded, and spring 1936, when Edward Clark, a former Schoenberg pupil and a central figure in contemporary music programming, resigned from the Corporation. The discussion is conceived as a reception study, tracing and analyzing the BBC's attempts to manipulate critical and public responses to its contemporary music policies as a manifestation of its fundamental policy to expand public interest in and understanding of cultural matters.

The dissertation emphasizes three distinct but interdependent topics. First, the BBC's personnel structure is examined to reconstruct the responsibilities, attitudes and interests of those men who influenced music programming during the period. Second, high-level policy decisions relating to contemporary music transmissions are considered in order to trace the administrators' reasons for devoting broadcast time to this repertory. Finally, the broadcasts of Second Viennese School works that took place during this period are described season by season. In this part, specific BBC decisions that led to the transmissions are explored, as is the surviving correspondence between the Corporation and the composers and performers who were involved in the broadcasts; moreover, the discussion examines significant responses to the broadcasts and relates those responses to subsequent policies and broadcasts of similar works.

The dissertation includes four appendices. Because the study is based on original BBC papers and related materials, one reproduces significant primary source documents that were consulted at the BBC Written Archives Centre; in addition, correspondence and published articles relating to broadcasts of works by composers associated with Schoenberg's circle are reproduced. Another appendix lists Second Viennese School performances in Britain to spring 1936. A third appendix includes short biographies of the men who were involved in the BBC's dissemination of Second Viennese School repertory. The final appendix is devoted to the central but enigmatic BBC staff member, Edward Clark, providing a detailed overview of his career to the time that he resigned from the Corporation.