The Prisoner: A missing link in England’s history of electronic music

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This article documents the circumstances surrounding the composition of the soundtrack to the theatrical production of Bridget Boland’s The Prisoner in 1954. Roberto Gerhard’s soundtrack to The Prisoner is likely the first piece to utilise ensemble and magnetic tape, and as such potentially the first live performance of musique concrète in England, taking place a year before Gerhard’s significantly more infamous electronic score to King Lear, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and four years prior to the establishment of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. No master recording or score has been located and details relating to the soundtrack are sparse. This paper attempts to collect available documentation relating to this production, as well as provide new insights relating to potential draft materials stored in the Roberto Gerhard Tape Archive and a previously unknown connection between the production and Pierre Henry and the Groupe de Reserches de Musique Concrète.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-409
Number of pages9
JournalOrganised Sound
Issue number3
Early online date12 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2022


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