THE BRITISH LIBRARY

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146 posts categorized "Recording of the week"

13 November 2017

Recording of the week: Ancient Evenings

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This week's selection comes from Stephen Cleary, Lead Curator of Literary & Creative Recordings.

It is now 10 years since the death of Norman Mailer, one of the best-known and most widely read US authors of the post-war period. This week's recording features Mailer in discussion with Melvyn Bragg at the ICA. London, in 1983. Mailer's epic novel of ancient Egypt, Ancient Evenings, had been published just a few days previously. Mailer discourses on the 'class system' of Ancient Egypt, among related subjects. It didn't pay to be poor in those days either, apparently.

Norman Mailer and Melvyn Bragg in conversation (C95/55)

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This recording comes from a substantial collection of talks and discussions held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London between 1982-1993. 

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06 November 2017

Recording of the week: watching Britain's nuclear bomb tests

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This week's selection comes from Tom Lean, Project Interviewer for An Oral History of British Science.

On 8th November 1957, hundreds of British military and scientific personnel gathered at Christmas Island, a remote speck of land in the Pacific Ocean. They were there for Operation Grapple X, the first successful test of a British hydrogen bomb. At 1.8 megatons, the blast was about a hundred and forty times more powerful than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, and signified Britain's mastery of the secrets of thermonuclear power. Amongst the witnesses to the mushroom cloud rising above Christmas Island was a 35 year old technician named Frank Raynor. As he recalls, in perhaps something of an understatement, it was “quite impressive” to watch:

Frank Raynor_C1379/76

Grapple

The tests were also witnessed by Laurance Reed, a naval officer on HMS Warrior. He describes a shipboard atmosphere of excitement, anxiety and awe when the first bomb was dropped. 

Laurence Reed_C1503/37

The full interview with Frank Raynor can be found in the Oral History of British Science collection on British Library Sounds.

Follow @BL_OralHistory  and @soundarchive for all the latest news.

30 October 2017

Recording of the week: Rabindranath Tagore's 'Songs of Patriotism'

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This week's selection comes from Dr Janet Topp Fargion, Lead Curator of World and Traditional Music.

Born in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a writer, poet, artist and teacher. He was the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1913, for his poetry collection Gitanjali. Tagore wrote over 2,000 songs during his life, referred to as Rabindra Sangeet, in which he expressed his world view commenting on politics, progress and education. This song is taken from an album of patriotic songs, and is sung by Hemanta Mukherjee (1920-1989), popularly known as Hemant Kumar, a respected Indian singer, composer and film producer. 

Nai Nai Bhoy

Rabindranath_Tagore

Tagore's work was hugely influential on European writers and thinkers. A part of his life narrative is highlighted in the Connecting Stories: Our British Asian Heritage exhibition at the Library of Birmingham in collaboration with the British Library running until 4 November, 2017.

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Nai Nai Bhoy is taken from Songs of Patriotism – Rabindranath Tagore. Label/catalogue: His Master’s Voice ECLP 2280, 1962. BL shelfmark: 1LP0156677

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23 October 2017

Recording of the week: not on period instruments

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This week's selection comes from Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music Recordings.

Those of us brought up in the 1980s and 1990s only hearing Haydn performed on period instruments missed a lot. While these were innovative and fascinating, older recordings of symphony orchestras - with large string sections performing Classical repertoire on contemporary instruments - became outmoded. This recording from 1953 of the Oxford Symphony by Geroge Szell and his Cleveland Orchestra is a delight, full of elegance, wit, virility and humour - all the best traits of Haydn's genius.

Haydn Symphony no. 92  G major (Oxford)

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A collection of Haydn's symphonies can be found on British Library Sounds.

Follow @BL_Classical and @soundarchive for all the latest news.

16 October 2017

Recording of the week: soul midwives

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This week's selection comes from Holly Gilbert, Cataloguer of Digital Multimedia Collections.

Friends, Vanessa and Felicity, talk about their work as soul midwives which involves working with people who are dying to ensure that their death is personal and dignified. They describe the different ways that people approach and experience death and how their work has changed the way that they view life and think about their own death. They discuss at length the mysteries that surround death, how other people react to what they do and the gift of insights that they feel are given to them by the people they work with. They also describe the experiences of death that made them want to do this job, they talk about how much they enjoy what they do and say that, contrary to what people might think, it actually involves a lot of joy and laughter.

The Listening Project_soul midwives (excerpt)

Vanessa and Felicity

This recording is part of The Listening Project, an audio archive of conversations recorded by the BBC and archived at the British Library. The full conversation between Vanessa and Felicity can be found here.

Follow @CollectingSound and @soundarchive for all the latest news.

09 October 2017

Recording of the week: computer programming and motherhood in the 1960s

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This week's selection comes from Tom Lean, Project Interviewer for An Oral History of British Science.

Like many women in the 1960s, Stephanie Shirley left her job in the computer industry after becoming a mother. At the time, women were expected to cut short their professional careers and stay at home to raise the family, but this was not quite what Stephanie Shirley had in mind. In 1963 she started a company named Freelance Programmers, to allow women who had left the computer industry when they had children to continue working as programmers from home. In time, Stephanie Shirley's company grew to a major business employing thousands of people. However, at the start, with sexism rife, Stephanie Shirley had to go to rather unusual lengths to create a professional image, not least calling herself "Steve", as she recalls in this interview from An Oral History of British Science.

Stephanie Shirley_Programming at home (BL ref C1379/28)

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This clip is part of Voices of Science, an online resource which uses oral history interviews with prominent British scientists and engineers to tell the stories of some of the most remarkable scientific and engineering discoveries of the past century.

Follow @BL_OralHistory and @soundarchive for all the latest news.

Tom Lean will speak about the related An Oral History of Electricity Supply Industry project at ‘The Life Electric’, a British Library event on Thursday 19 October. Book your tickets here https://www.bl.uk/events/the-life-electric-oral-histories-from-the-uk-electricity-supply-industry

02 October 2017

Recording of the week: Chantal Akerman

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This week's selection comes from Stephen Cleary, Lead Curator of Literary & Creative Recordings.

Pioneering Belgian film director Chantal Akerman (1950-2015) features in this week's recording from the archive. Here she is interviewed by Simon Field at the ICA, London, in 1990, on the occasion of a season of her films.

ICA Talk_Chantal Akerman

Chantal_Akerman_-_video_still

This recording comes from a substantial collection of talks and discussions held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London between 1982-1993. 

Follow @BL_DramaSound and @soundarchive for all the latest news.

25 September 2017

Recording of the week: a poetry reading by Kayo Chingonyi

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This week's selection comes from Dr Eva del Rey, Curator of Drama and Literature Recordings and Digital Performance.

Zambian-born poet Kayo Chingonyi reads selections from his pamphlet Some Bright Elegance (Salt, 2012) and other works.

In this recording you can hear some of the stories behind the poems. For example, Kayo’s thoughts of himself as a writer in the poem ‘Daemon’, and his memories of making cassette mixtapes of songs recorded from pirate radio, which informed ‘Guide to Proper Mixtape Assembly’. And, before the reading of ‘Orientation’, Kayo invites the listener to imagine being a secret service operative, setting the mood for the spy poem that follows.

Kayo Chingoyi reads

Kayo Chingonyi_2016

 Kayo Chingonyi, British Library 2016.

The recording was made in the British Library studio, 12 March 2013, for ‘Between Two Worlds: Poetry & Translation’, a British Library project created in collaboration with Amarjit Chandan, and funded by the Arts Council.

For other recordings of Kayo Chingonyi accessible at the British Library please see:

Interview with Kayo talking about his work and influences (2013)

‘Beyond Bounds: Britain Re-Presented in Poetry’: event at the British Library with Kayo Chingoyi and fellow poets Anthony Joseph, Jay Bernard and Vahni Capildeo (2016)

Follow @BL_DramaSound and @soundarchive for all the latest news.