Book Chapter Details
Mandatory Fields
Condon, Denis
2018 December
Music and Sound in Silen Film: From the Nickelodeon to The Artist
"Players Must Be of a Good Class": Women and Concert Musicians in Irish Picture Houses, 1910-1920
New York, London
Optional Fields
The boom in cinema construction in Ireland in the 1910s created a boom in musical employment that disproportionately favoured women and foreign-born musicians. Every new picture house had at least one musician, and as the 1910s progressed, the prestige of a picture house could be measured by the number of musicians in its orchestra. In these prestigious cinemas, the orchestras were led by musical directors, who arranged musical programmes that often included solos by renowned concert musicians that could be advertised as discrete attractions. The rapid rise in demand for these positions and the cosmopolitan constitution of Ireland’s musical scene meant that many of these new roles were filled by non-Irish musicians. For both men and women, these increasingly professionalized jobs required the kind of extended education available only to the middle class. The growing prestige of cinema opened up possibilities for suitably trained women of this class who needed or desired an income but who were restricted from much paid work by barriers to the professions and by such nebulous controls as the discourse on respectability. Picture houses offered a steadier income to middle-class women for whom the study of music had long been deemed a fitting pursuit but whose career option were largely limited to musical education. The increasing number of women cinema musicians is also an index of the increasing acceptability and even respectability of cinema itself, which these women were helping to foster by taking these jobs. This essay seeks to explore such gender, class and ethnic dynamics of music in Ireland’s cinemas of the 1910s.
Barton, Ruth and Simon Trezise
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