Project Details


The history of electronic music in England has seen a significant resurgence of interest in the past two decades, and yet many of the dominant cultural narratives are shaped by the cultural institutions of England, most notably the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the BBC more widely. This research project extends beyond these institutional bounds examining the work of the exile Ernest Berk — one of the most significant creative artists currently omitted from any historical record and academic writing but who played an important role in establishing England’s culture of electronic music.

Existing scholarship on Ernest Berk, the most prolific and arguably radical of the early pioneers in England, is minimal. An exile from Nazi Germany and arriving to England in 1934, Berk established himself as a freelance dance choreographer who initially started creating electronic music to accompany his own expressionist dance works. He established his home studio in 1955, some three years before the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and between 1957 and 1984 composed over 227 works of electronic music, only two of which have ever been commercially released. This project will consider Berk’s music from social, technological, and musical perspectives to draw insights that can be used to inform a broader appraisal of the phenomenon of England’s ‘lost voices’ of electronic music.
Effective start/end date1/10/2330/09/26