Cowgill, Rachel (2011) Canonizing Remembrance: Music for Armistice Day at the BBC, 1922-7. First World War Studies: Journal of the International Society for First World War Studies, 2 (1). pp. 75-107. ISSN 1947-5020

This article, the first of a pair covering the interwar years, examines developments in music programming for Armistice Day at the British Broadcasting Company (established in 1922 and nationalized in 1927). It traces the conflicting agendas evidenced in internal disagreements about repertoire, timing, and format, and gauges the extent to which the BBC both responded to and shaped evolving ideas about the nature and rituals of Armistice Day – whether it should celebrate or commemorate the conflict, and whose voices and memories it should articulate. Explanations are offered why certain popular works of remembrance were excluded from the emerging canon – particularly John Foulds’s A World Requiem, which has been attracting considerable attention since it was performed and broadcast for the first time in eighty years by the BBC in 2007 – and why others acquired quasi-liturgical status in the broadcasting schedules for 11 November. It thus takes a new, cultural-historical approach to the study of music and commemoration – a timely one, ahead of 2014: rather than analysing specific works of remembrance, it explores how music was used in the construction of public ritual, and in doing so adds considerably to our understanding of the cultural politics of the immediate post-war period in Britain. It draws on media history, memory studies, and cultural histories of World War I, and appeared in an early issue of the interdisciplinary US-based, peer-reviewed journal that serves the International Society for First World War Studies. Exhaustive research was conducted among records relating to the first decade of broadcasting at the BBC’s Written Archives Centre, as well as related archival materials at the British Library and Borthwick Institute (York) and newspapers and periodicals including early issues of the Radio Times.

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email