English Flute School Performance Aesthetics (1706–1972): A National Style?

Lewis, Lis. 2015. English Flute School Performance Aesthetics (1706–1972): A National Style?. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In the 1980s, many British flute players and other musicians thought that Gareth Morris (1920–2007) personified the English flute school: his Philharmonia orchestra recordings display performance aesthetics typical of this school. English flute school performance aesthetics were also evident in the playing of Morris's celebrity predecessor at the Royal Academy of Music, the virtuoso Charles Nicholson (1795–1837). They were also more widespread in the playing of both Morris's and Nicholson's teacher-pupil lineages and other London-based flautists. Today these aesthetics can still be recognised in certain current leading British players.

Mid-twentieth-century English flute school performance aesthetics particularly associated with Morris included the continued use of the cocuswood flute, for example, distinctively retained after the mid-twentieth century. Other noteworthy mutually inclusive aesthetics were a masculine flute-playing ideal indicated by a large tone and bold articulation; the importance of slow music interpretation as an indicator of a player's true worth or musicality; the interpretation of a composer's perceived meaning; an approach to accuracy (in rhythm, and vibrato pitch variation, for example) and the dislike of 'hollow' virtuosity.

This thesis contributes to knowledge with the first formal study of this long-lived, unique and important English flute school over its complete span, focussing on Morris's lineage, as far back as George Rudall (1781–1871) and tracing its origins to late eighteenth-century London. Through this, the school is confirmed as a national, British style by spread and difference from European flute performance aesthetics.

The thesis relies on a combined documentary, oral and aural history and uses the recordings analysis tool, Sonic Visualiser: it includes evidence from the author's insider view of the school both as Morris's pupil and a performer. The findings are organised and the school defined using Weber's concept ideal type: an ethnography is formed using Geertz's thick description.

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Thesis (Doctoral)

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English Flute School, performance aesthetics, London, Gareth Morris, Charles Nicholson, Rudall Carte flute, cocuswood flute, thick description, ideal type, Sonic Visualiser, oral history, insider view, lineage, handed-down, ethnography, flute vibrato, flute tone

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31 July 2015

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Date Deposited:

11 Aug 2015 10:09

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:11



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