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1923 __ Dissemination of music — 2LO Wireless Orchestra
Comment : It is difficult to imagine any programming challenge facing the BBC greater than the dissemination of music. First the broadcasters had, from the outset, set themselves a new revolutionary goal - that of bringing good music into the home and raising public taste. It must be remembered that few of its listeners frequented the great concert halls. Most had gramophones but self selection governed their record collections; the educational element hardly featured. Secondly, the very organisation which, with the BBC, had at last the opportunity to bring good music into the public domain, refused to collaborate with the BBC. Yet this was a task in which neither party could do without the other. Finally, wireless tranmission, quite appart from listeners' own apparatus, always reduced the sound quality, particularly if trunk telephone lines were employed in the process. May 1923 marked the end of the primitive phase of BBC music, a phase caricatured by Peter Eckersley as one in which 2LO's Wireless Orchestra of "about three instrumentalists plugged bravely on from morning to night, looked after by Stanton Jefferies who was always cheerful and bumptuously reliable" (Eckersley, P. p. 56, 1941). Certainly Jefferies was always auditioning during the say, performing as a jolly and versatile Uncle in the Children's Hour, conducting the diminutive Wireless Orchestra - actually about seven or eight in number - in the evening, whilst contriving to act as guide for those new to the terrors of the microphone. [...] First of these developments was the new purpose built studio decked out in blue and gold on the first floor of the IEE building. This was not only much larger than the Marconi House studio but possessed a prototype of what was to become the standard BBC microphone of the mid-twenties - the Marconi-Sykes moving coil microphone. Gone was the dreaded "Soap Box" contraption that had served as a microphone at Marconi House. The larger studio and the sensitive microphone that could pick up from any part of the room, allowed the Wireless Orchestra to grow. A cornet, trombone and piano celeste were added, the latter being used to simulate woodwind effects until it was replaced by a single woodwind, two horns and a contra-bassoon. Next the strings were augmented and then the woodwind. This gave a nucleus of eighteen, but under Pitt's dynamic direction of the orchestre was sometimes expanded to 37 for special occasions. [...] Percy Pitt [Controller of Music of the Music Department in the BBC] laid and conducted the first broadcast symphony concert on 21 June 1923. On 26 November 1923 he staged an ambitious all-Wagner programme with forty players in the the orchestra. A greater triumph was to follow. (Brian & John Hennessy)Sidonie Goossens (1899-2004) was the first solo harpist to broadcast, in 1923, and the first to appear on television, in 1936. Her orchestral debut was on June 7 1921, in the orchestra which her brother Eugene formed specially to give the first British concert performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Marie was the other harpist and Leon principal oboe. She played in the orchestra at His Majesty's Theatre in 1923 when Basil Dean produced James Elroy Flecker's Hassan with Delius's incidental music. Eugene conducted and Leon was the oboist. "Delius never learnt to write for the harp," she said. "I had to spend hours re-writing the parts." She played in the orchestra for Chu-Chin-Chow, where her good looks attracted the attention of the Shah of Persia, who tried to buy her and her harp. "But he was a squatty little man, not attractive like his son was to become. I sent back word that I wasn't available." She made her first broadcast in 1923 with the 2LO Wireless Quartet (violin, cello, harp and organ), and was a founder-member of the 2LO Wireless Orchestra, forerunner of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. (Telegraph News, London, 16 Dec. 2004)In March 23, 1923, First live broadcast of dance music in UK is made by the Wireless Orchestra 'augmented by saxophones'.
Source : Hennessy, Brian & John (2005), "The emergence of broadcasting in Britain", Southerleigh, pp. 304-310.
Urls : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1479086/Sidonie-Goossens.html (last visited )

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