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The British Male Voice Choir: A History and Contemporary Assessment

Wiltshire, Christopher Robin. 1993. The British Male Voice Choir: A History and Contemporary Assessment. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Secular male voice choral singing in Britain as a self-regulated, self-financed musical and social organization is the basis of this study. The opening chapters examine the form, repertoire and composers of, respectively, the catch and the glee, in the context of the gentlemen's meetings at which the music was performed. Whether at the catch-singing in the homes of late seventeenth century Oxford clergy or at the Georgian club where glees (with alto lead) held sway, it was educated men from the upper and middle strata of British society who were involved and in terms of organization and repertoire, these meetings are presented as antecedents of what, in the early years of the present century, became the male voice choir. The influences of protestant churches, changing social conditions, musical fashion, choral competitions and education are shown to combine in widening the social range within choir membership leading to public popularity and, through improved standardst,of respect from the music profession during the first half of this century. The involvement of choirs in competitions is examined in detail in Chapter 4, this area of activity providing an enormous stimulus to their musical and social well-being. The chronological structure is completed with comment on post-war musical retrenchment and partial ossification. Chapter 5 also reviews the detailed statistics on contemporary British male choirs collected in the author's national survey carried out over a three-yeapr eriod( 1988-91 ). The repertoire of original music is discussed in the subsequent chapter, supported by 64 illustrations with reference made to 250 works by over 120 composers. Finally, a comparative study places current British male choir work within a European context. Discussion on the future concentrates on problems of recruitment and implications for the survival of this neglected arm of the British choral scene.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Keywords:

male voice, choir, secular singing, catch-singing, glees

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music

Date:

September 1993

Item ID:

26137

Date Deposited:

01 Apr 2019 16:00

Last Modified:

01 Apr 2019 16:00

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/26137

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