Event Info

This event is postponed to Spring 2022, date TBA.

Abstract: "The New Jersey-based Victor Talking Machine Company has long been credited with producing one of the first examples of "middlebrow" culture, when it took singers like Enrico Caruso, recorded two to three minutes of their voices, and circulated them on red-labeled discs across the globe. In this paper I argue that Victor's 1900s opera recordings were middlebrow in a more important sense, for they were created by professionals and technologies that up to that point had had very little contact but whose negotiations over "high" and "low" would have a lasting (and not entirely positive) influence on the classical music world."

About the Artist:

Karen Henson is Associate Professor of Musicology at Queens College and the Graduate Center, the City University of New York.  She specializes in nineteenth-century opera, singers and music-theatrical performance, and opera and technology, and she is the author of Opera Acts: Singers and Performance in the Late Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and editor of Technology and the Diva: Sopranos, Opera, and Media from Romanticism to the Digital Age (Cambridge University Press, 2016).  In 2020-21 Henson was the Edward T. Cone Member in Music Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.  In 2021-22, she is the Arthur Molella Distinguished Fellow in the History of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC.  She is working on a book about early sound reproduction and opera.