The Promise of Broadcast Classical Music

David Goodman

in Radio's Civic Ambition

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780195394085
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894383 | DOI:
The Promise of Broadcast Classical Music

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The chapter explores why there was so much classical music on mainstream 1930s American radio, and the meanings and values that broadcast classical music represented. Radio's engagement with classical music emphasized the added effort needed to turn listening into music appreciation. Local performers, amateurs talking about their musical hobby, broadcast music lessons, composition competitions and play-along programs, all demonstrated why broadcast classical music was so important a part of the civic paradigm. NBC's hiring of Arturo Toscanini to conduct its new NBC Symphony Orchestra in 1938 exemplified mainstream commercial radio's well-publicized commitment to, and sacralization of, classical music. The US radio networks' high valuing of classical music led them to foster close relationships with European and especially German broadcasters well into the fascist era. The strictures of émigré German intellectual Theodor Adorno about broadcast classical music show that he was acutely aware of classical music's strategic importance to American broadcasters.

Keywords: broadcast classical music; classical music; German broadcasting; Arturo Toscanini; music appreciation; sacralization; Theodor Adorno

Chapter.  34240 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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