University of Tasmania
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The life and repertoire of the Australian baritone, Peter Dawson, 1882-1961 : an historical and musicological enquiry

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posted on 2023-05-27, 18:10 authored by Smith, Russell
The assumption that Peter Dawson is known as a world-famous recording star, the most famous ballad singer of his era, as the baritone who had recorded more titles and sold more records than any one else during a career which spanned fifty years has almost precluded a comprehensive study of his actual achievements. Through a detailed review of his career from its genesis to the final years this investigation of the professional life of the Australian baritone, Peter Dawson (1882-1961) seeks to test the reality against the legend. Parallel chapters dealing with the principal areas of professional experience leading to analyses of his repertoire are introduced by a general chronological overview which covers more general aspects of Peter Dawson's life and activities within a framework of broad historical events not revealed in the detailed chapters. As hypothesised, the observation of his repertoire reveals an unexpected range and depth of quality. The investigation also reveals his secure competence as a composer and reveals that the extent of his abilities and the quantity of compositions are largely unknown and undervalued. As his fame is unquestioned it is argued that his repertoire must have reflected contemporaneous values; further, that these values were reflected in blind belief in the Empire, in a Commonwealth of Nations, and unquestioning loyalty to the Crown. As these values never changed for Peter Dawson he remained an icon for those generations· which held true to the same conservative values. But, as the investigation proves that his popularity was restricted to the British Empire and proves that his -popularity gradually diminished, it can be argued that the gradual disintegration of interest in his type of repertoire paralleled a shift away from those values of Empire which he represented; that only a hard core continued to defend these ideals in face of the slow disintegration of the economic power and cultural influence of Great Britain in favour of other nations, particularly the USA, following the effects of World War I. On the one -hand, the investigation confirms that Peter Dawson is remembered as the legendary ballad singer: on the other, the -investigation debunks the myth by exposing the over-simplification of a complex professional career and the manipulation of information which created this stereotype.


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Copyright 1997 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1997. Includes bibliographical references

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