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Arts & Culture Series: Research Spotlight

Researcher's work features in BBC Radio 3 documentary on German music

Ian Pace investigated the role of radio in the support and dissemination of new music after 1945

by Ed Grover (Senior Communications Officer)

The pianist and City academic Ian Pace has contributed new research to a BBC Radio 3 documentary about the development of music in Germany after the Second World War.

The work reveals how the Allied powers – USA, UK, France and Soviet Union – established new radio stations in Germany as part of a plan to reinvigorate artistic German culture after the fall of the Nazi regime.

Using archive documents from the four Allied nations, Ian investigated the role of radio in supporting and disseminating new music after 1945.

The BBC Radio 3 documentary, Radio Controlled, features Ian discussing his research. He was also a principal expert advisor for the programme, which developed as a result of his own proposal.

Listen to the programme, Radio Controlled

He said: “This feature examines the crucial role played by radio stations in the development of new music in Germany after 1945, and draws extensively upon my own research, including archival work in four countries.

“My research looks at how the radio stations came to be re-started by the four Allied powers occupying Germany from 1945 to 1949, how various key appointments were made of individuals with a strong commitment to new music, the pre-1945 histories of these individuals and their experiences of denazification.”

Catching up

Ian’s work is part of a wider research project in which he is investigating the concept of Nachholbedarf, or “catching up”, as applies to new music

The pianist and musicologist, who is Head of Performance in the Department of Music, points out that many claimed that, from 1933 to 1945, Germany was cut off from modernist and international developments.

He argues this was a questionable claim because there is evidence showing international cultural exchanges between fascist nations at least, while some fascists were sympathetic to modernism in the arts. However, Ian says the idea that Germany was cut off proved a potent argument at the time.

He said: “The infrastructure for new music, as continues to exist to the present day, has its roots in Germany during the early years after 1945, fuelled by an idea that the country needed to ‘catch up’ on what had been missed over the previous 12 years.

“As such, what has often been thought to constitute a natural development of technical and aesthetic resources for creative composition is actually deeply rooted in a very particular set of social and political circumstances.”

Elektronische Musik

As part of his research, Ian has investigated programming schedules, transcripts of programmes and executive decisions in order to discern how new music was viewed immediately after the war.

This included looking at how music was presented as the antithesis of fascist ideas and aesthetics, a view which has “questionable veracity” according to the City academic.

Ian also explored how pedagogical programmes generated new audiences for new music, and the ways in which the stations, especially in the city of Cologne, played an important role in the development of Elektronische Musik.

Read Ian’s blog about his research and the BBC Radio 3 documentary

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