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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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Toscanini, Ormandy, and the First Televised Orchestra Concert(s)

Toscanini, Ormandy, and the First Televised Orchestra Concert(s)

The Networks and the Broadcasting of Musical Celebrity1

(p.193) Chapter 8 Toscanini, Ormandy, and the First Televised Orchestra Concert(s)
Music and the Broadcast Experience

James Deaville

Oxford University Press

The first televised orchestral concerts in the United States took place on March 20, 1948, with Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra (NBC) and Ormandy the Philadelphia Orchestra (CBS). This chapter contrasts the two performances in light of the related concepts of musical celebrity and telegeneity. Situating Toscanini against the backdrop of early attempts at televising music performances, the chapter argues that the handsome and energetic Toscanini had come to represent the ideal televisible celebrity, a personality that accords with contemporary discourses surrounding physical display, stardom, and the new medium of television. His performance that evening—supported by advanced technical resources—confirmed Toscanini’s status as a media star. In contrast, Ormandy’s television broadcast not only suffered from its seemingly hurried qualities but also could not bring to bear the cultural capital that Toscanini had acquired. However, both conductors would later pursue concert telecasting as a means of cultural uplift.

Keywords:   broadcasting, concert, conductor, music in television, Ormandy, telegeneity, television, Toscanini, musical celebrity

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