An Historical Survey of the Establishment of an Orchestral Tradition in Christchurch to 1939
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This dissertation is the first study devoted solely to the history of an orchestral tradition in Christchurch. Within a timeframe stretching from the beginning of the local settlement to the establishment of the first “national” orchestra in 1939, it provides detailed portrayals of all facets of amateur and professional orchestral activity.
This includes the histories of all orchestral bodies, their membership, a chronology of concerts, repertoire, programme structure and critical reception. This dissertation explains the advance of orchestral tradition that is at times tentative and at times bold, until it is securely entrenched as a mainstream musical activity in Christchurch.
A preliminary narration, which begins in 1857, ends in 1906 with the International Exhibition. This is then discussed as a landmark event for orchestral music in Christchurch. A series of case studies for the period of 1908 to 1939, covers each of the five major orchestral groups that flourished in this period. The case studies also include the footprints of development, the “incidental” music performed by the cinema orchestras, and the “studio only” performances of many broadcasting groups. The role played by minor orchestral groups as an “alternative” music culture is included, along with the impact of orchestras associated with visiting opera companies. The final section is a detailed analysis of the repertoire and programme construction, and a discussion of the people who played an influential role in the development of an orchestral tradition.
Numerous tables and illustrations are provided. A number of appendices are also attached: a chronology of orchestral concerts in Christchurch; some significant orchestra personnel lists; an extensive set of source readings discussing the formation of a permanent orchestra; a chronology of orchestral activity for a selection of Christchurch musicians; a timeline of visiting opera companies, and a selection of concert programmes.
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