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The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

Roche Award for Music Scholar

Published: 22 May 2015

Dr Kate Guthrie has won the 2015 Jerome Roche prize from the Royal Musical Association for her article 'Propaganda Music in Second World War Britain: John Ireland's Epic March.' The Jerome Roche prize is awarded annually by the RMA for a distinguished article – whether in a journal, edited volume, or book of conference proceedings - by a scholar in the early stages of his or her career.

Kate's award-winning article sheds new light on how composers and critics negotiated the problematic relationship between art music and politics during the Second World War, considering how the demands of ‘total’ war impacted on music’s ideological status. John Ireland’s Epic March – a BBC commission that caused the composer considerable anxiety – provides a case study. Drawing first on the correspondence charting the lengthy genesis of the work, and then on the work’s critical reception, Kate considers how Ireland and his audiences sought to reconcile the conflicting political and aesthetic demands of this commission. With its conventional musical style, Epic March offers an example of a ‘middlebrow’ attempt to bridge the gap between art and politics. The article appeared in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association 139:1 (2014).

Kate joined the department in September 2014 as the recipient of a three-year British Academy postdoctoral award. Her monograph Democratising Art: Music, Leisure and Education in Interwar Britain, will investigate some of the initiatives that developed in 1920s and ’30s Britain to promote highbrow (or ‘classical’) music to a wider audience. She is particularly interested in how the period’s technological advances such as radio and cinema, and the political instability resulting from the rise of extremist ideologies, influenced the values attached to music.

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