Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

Thesis submitted for the degree of PhD to Technological University Dublin, 2018.


2RN, later to be re-named Radio Éireann, the Dublin-based Irish state broadcasting station, was established in 1926, and in that year it engaged five string players and a pianist to constitute the ‘Station Orchestra’. This chamber ensemble was incrementally enlarged over the following years by the recruitment of additional string players together with brass, woodwind and percussion. The ‘Orchestra’ performed a wide range of different kinds of music and was augmented to provide broadcasts of symphony concerts. In the late 1940s it was decided to bring the Orchestra up to symphonic strength, to devote it solely to art music, and to establish a smaller ensemble for lighter music. The outcome was the establishment of the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra (hereinafter referred to as ‘RÉSO’) in 1948 with a contract strength of sixty-two musicians. At that level it still had significant instrumental deficits, but by 1954 these were remedied, and by that stage also a Principal Conductor and an Assistant Conductor had been recruited. As the broadcasting service was an integral part of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, the cost of the orchestra was under the constant scrutiny of the Department of Finance, and approval from the latter Department was required for the expenditure of even trivial monetary amounts. This thesis is the first academic treatment of the early history of the RÉSO and predecessor ensembles at Radio Éireann. It explores the evolution of the radio orchestra over the years 1926 to 1954, and examines how the social, cultural, bureaucratic and political contexts within which decisions were made affected the development, constitution and operational policies of the Radio Éireann Orchestra during the period mentioned in the title. The thesis also includes a near-comprehensive listing of symphony concerts given by the RÉSO and predecessor ensembles during the period 1926–1954.