From The Library… A Victorian Vision

Today’s pro­gramme in the series From The Library… fea­tures a selec­tion of music from the Vic­to­ri­an and Edwar­dian peri­ods, and a lit­tle beyond.

The pro­gramme con­sists pri­mar­i­ly of mod­ern per­for­mances, but also includ­ed are the orig­i­nal record­ings of a num­ber of pop­u­lar ‘hits’ of the peri­od 1901–1920. Indeed, the Edi­son Phono­graph, which used record­ings made on cylin­ders, was first demon­strat­ed 130 years ago this month, in Novem­ber 1877. Ten years lat­er, Emile Berlin­er patent­ed the Gramo­phone, which used the flat disc records famil­iar until rel­a­tive­ly recent­ly. While the Phono­graph remained pop­u­lar in the Unit­ed States, in Britain the efforts of the Gramo­phone Com­pa­ny in pro­mot­ing discs made them a great deal more suc­cess­ful, and while the term “phono­graph” became a gener­ic term in the US for either kind of play­er, in the UK the terms remained dis­tinct.

Today you will also hear a selec­tion of Strauss waltzes and oth­er pieces char­ac­ter­is­tic of a Vien­nese evening or a for­mal ball; bal­lads and melodies of the peri­od; and even a few record­ings of mechan­i­cal instru­ments pop­u­lar at the turn of the cen­tu­ry.

In addi­tion to attend­ing for­mal balls and dances, and espe­cial­ly before the advent of the phono­graph, the gramo­phone, and lat­er the wire­less, it was cus­tom­ary to enter­tain friends and fam­i­ly at home with musi­cal soirées, in which the par­tic­i­pants would sing and accom­pa­ny each oth­er, typ­i­cal­ly on the piano. Some of the songs they sang are includ­ed here in set­tings appro­pri­ate to home enter­tain­ments of the peri­od.

• This pro­gramme is pro­duced by Radio Riel in con­junc­tion with the Cale­don Library in Sec­ond Life, and pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. For more infor­ma­tion on the Cale­don Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Sec­ond Life ref­er­ence libraries in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Cale­don Library Web site, or one of their loca­tions in-world.

• You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme now at, or sim­ply vis­it any Cale­don Library branch in-world and press Play on your embed­ded music play­er.

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