Happy birthday Radiophonic Workshop! Not the first specialist electronic music studio in the world, but one of the most innovative and certainly the most influential. Even if you’ve never heard of it, the sounds the Workshop inserted into the British sonic landscape over the four decades of its life will be familiar to you.
The Workshop got started in its Maida Vale home on this day in 1958, although its various engineers and artists had been working together for some time. Naturally enough, the Third Programme was critical to the early history of the workshop and the one of the earliest programmes to make use of its exotic, synthetic sounds was a fifty-minute ‘radiophonic poem’ by BBC radio drama producer Frederick Bradnum (that’s him in the bottom photo), broadcast in October of the previous year (earlier still was a Third Programme Beckett commission). In the pictures you’ll see Daphne Oram, Donald McWhinnie, Desmond Briscoe, Richard Bird and Frederick Bradnum. Click the pictures for the original, more detailed, captions.
Here’s a useful history of the Workshop and an article about the female composers and engineers of the Workshop.