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Music and the Broadcast ExperiencePerformance, Production, and Audiences$
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Christina Baade and James A. Deaville

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199314706

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199314706.001.0001

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The Role of Opera in the Rise of Radio in the United States

The Role of Opera in the Rise of Radio in the United States

(p.69) Chapter 2 The Role of Opera in the Rise of Radio in the United States
Music and the Broadcast Experience

Timothy D. Taylor

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how a single individual’s love of opera helped develop broadcast technology in the first few decades of the twentieth century. New communications technologies in the twentieth century such as radio made access to what was thought to be great music easier. But social elites in this period desired to make sure that masses experienced this music properly. American inventor Lee de Forest’s desire to disseminate his favorite art form to the masses was a common position among social elites in early twentieth century. Social elites experienced sometimes-conflicting tensions between desires to differentiate themselves from the masses by sacralizing the culture they consumed while at the same time attempting to control how the masses encounter high culture. This chapter considers the realities of these class-based motivations in early opera radio broadcasting through an analysis of contemporary commentary, advertising for radios, and broadcast histories from New York and Chicago.

Keywords:   advertising, Chicago Civic Opera, class, Lee de Forest, opera, radio

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