Click here to skip to content

Edison Fellowship

The Edison Fellowships are designed to encourage scholarship devoted to the history of recordings of classical music and music in performance through creating the conditions for concentrated use of the Library's collections of recordings.

The British Library is offering on a competitive basis an Edison Visiting Fellowship between September 2016 and August 2017. This may be held as a full- or part-time appointment. Proposals will be considered which treat any aspect of the history of recording and the performance of western art music.

The proposed research may be in pursuance of requirements for a higher degree. Applications will be considered from scholars of any age. The Library reserves the right to make no award in the event that no suitable applications are received.

The period of the Fellowship will be agreed at the time that the Fellowship is offered, but the tenure will not exceed four months' continuous residence nor the award exceed £5000. The Fellow will have reserved desk space.

The Fellow will have access to the specialist skills and knowledge of the collections possessed by the Sound Archive's curatorial staff.

The subjects of research under the scheme have included:

  • Dennis Brain, Benjamin Britten and the 20th-century horn
  • spoken word recordings in classical music catalogues
  • historical performance analyses of Bach's B Minor Mass and of Bartók's string quartets
  • an examination of the changing vocal techniques that resulted from the introduction of verismo opera styles
  • the creation through gramophone records of new audiences for classical music in Britain and in France up to the middle of the 20th century
  • performance styles of the Hungarian Violin School 1910-1940
  • landmarks of the evolution of flute performance style on record
  • Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue'
  • recordings of Beethoven string quartets
  • acoustic recordings of Wagner in languages other than German
  • brindisi in Verdi operas
  • Desmond Shawe-Taylor and record criticism

The British Library does not require the work undertaken necessarily to result in a publication or public lecture but the Library would expect to receive an acknowledgement of its assistance in any published work or talks which did make use of the work carried out during the Fellowship.

Special privileges

Here are some of the special privileges available to Fellows when working at the British Library.

Staff Hours

The British Library at St Pancras is open to staff - and therefore Fellows - from 7.30 to 20.30 Monday to Friday, and 7.30 to 17.30 on Saturdays.

Office facilities

Fellows will be allocated a workstation with playback facilities in the Sound Archive office area or in a listening carrel in the Rare Books & Music Reading Room. Fellows are asked to respect the fact that they will be working in an office environment. Fellows will be introduced to members of staff, in particular those who may share a subject interest with them and those who will be able to help them. Fellows can also use the facilities offered by the Library's Writers and Scholars Centre.

Use of Collection Items

Items from the recorded sound collection should be ordered by the Fellows through the Curator of Classical Music. It may be necessary to have playback copies on CD made of originals which are fragile.


In addition to the Library's Main and Sound Archive catalogues, other databases are available online for use within the Library.

Shop discounts

Fellows may take advantage of staff discount on items from the British Library Shop: 25% off non-British Library goods and 33% off items published or produced by the Library.

Museums and Galleries

Over 20 national museums and galleries in the London area offer free admission to British Library Staff and therefore to Fellows.

Post, email & photocopying

Each Fellow can use the Library's address to receive post as 'Edison Visiting Fellow, The British Library Sound Archive, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB'. Post will be forwarded if the Fellow is not in the Library full-time. There is a photocopier in the Archive's office area which Fellows may use for occasional copying of non-collection materials of use in their research. A Library email account can be set up if required.

Applying for the Edison Fellowship

The applicant is required to submit:

  • a curriculum vitae
  • a brief research proposal (not exceeding 750 words), together with a thesis or dissertation prospectus where available if the research is being conducted in the context of an advanced degree
  • a proposed time-scale for the project, whether a period of continuous residence, or regular visits to the British Library on a weekly or a monthly basis.

The proposal should include reference to any previous research on recordings carried out by the applicant, and make clear how the proposed research relates to particular holdings of the Sound Archive.

The applicant must also arrange to have two confidential letters of recommendation sent to the Curator by email or post.

Closing date for applications is Monday 25 January 2016. Applicants will be notified of the result by the end of March 2016.

Applications by email or, if by post, four copies should be sent to:

Jonathan Summers
Classical Music Curator
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7432
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7441


PDF files

The links below are to Adobe PDF files. Accessibility solutions and free Reader software are available from Adobe.