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

Smith, Russell 1997 , 'The life and repertoire of the Australian baritone, Peter Dawson, 1882-1961 : an historical and musicological enquiry', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Smith, Russell
Keywords: Dawson, Peter, 1882-1961, Singers
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

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).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1997. Includes bibliographical references

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