Robert Philip (19 November)

rpRobert Philip studied organ with Ralph Downes and bassoon with Martin Gatt and Archie Camden at the Royal College of Music, London.  He won an organ scholarship to Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he read music, moving to University College, Cambridge (now Wolfson College) to write the first ever Ph.D study of recordings.  He was still working on this dissertation when he gave his first two broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, Changing Orchestral Style, in 1971.  This led to regular contributions to Radio 3 and the BBC World Service, including his own series on Radio 3: The Long-playing Era (1975), The Developing Musician (1976) and Wartime at the National Gallery (1995); and for BBC World Service: Composer and Interpreter (1980-82) and Musical Yearbook (1984-86).

In 1992 he published a book, Early Recordings and Musical Style: Changing Tastes in Instrumental Performance 1900-1950 (Cambridge University Press).  This was the first study of early twentieth-century performance practice and its implications.  Early Music described it as “a monumental book at the cutting edge of a new face of musicology”, and a leading article in The Times declared that “A bomb has been dropped on...musically correct modern orthodoxy”.

From 1976 to 1999 Robert Philip worked as an Arts Producer in the BBC’s Open University Production Centre, and from 2000 as a Lecturer in Music at the Open University.  A second book, Performing Music in the Age of Recording (Yale University Press) was published in 2004.  The novelist Alan Hollinghurst described it as “A mind-opening examination of how deeply recording has changed attitudes to music making since the start of the 20th century”.

Since his retirement from the Open University in 2011, he has been writing a book on orchestral music, is learning the cello, and has taken up pottery. He is married to the pianist Susan Tomes.


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