Edison Fellowships

Edison Fellow Raymond Yiu
Edison Fellow Raymond Yiu. Photo: Malcolm Crowthers

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.

Published date:

The British Library is offering on a competitive basis an Edison Visiting Fellowship between September 2023 and August 2024. 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
  • Black classical musicians in Britain 1850-1950
  • The Boyd Neel Orchestra and Frederick Grinke
  • Timbre and imaginaries of the male in recordings of Italian opera tenors 1900-1950
  • Recordings of the first Hungarian school of the 20th-century piano

Fellows also have the opportunity to write guest posts on the Sound and Vision blog. 

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.

Applying for the Edison Fellowship

The applicant is required to submit:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • 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
  • 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 30 January 2023. Applicants will be notified of the result by the end of March 2023.

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

E-mail: jonathan.summers@bl.uk

Collection guides

Classical music recordings

Recordings in the western concert tradition, opera, liturgical music, and the pre-Baroque repertories of Western Europe

Pop music recordings

We hold one of the most wide-ranging collections of popular music in the world

World and traditional music collection

We hold one of the world's largest collections of recordings variously described as traditional, folk or world music

Case studies

More Case studies
…The research I did as an Edison Fellow at the British Library was invaluable for my PhD…

Alexis Bennett researched 1930s British film music as an Edison Fellow at the British Library.

…My work as an Edison Fellow has profoundly changed my thoughts on music making…

Pianist Marisa Gupta uses historical sound recordings to inform her chamber music performances.