Live Music Exchange Resources

The Music Profession in Britain since the 18th Century: A Social History – Cyril Ehrlich (1985)


Author: Cyril Ehrlich
Organisation/Affiliation/Publisher: Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press
Date: 1985

This is the first history of an occupational group that aspired to, but failed to achieve, the status of a liberal profession. The book explains the vigorous expansion of the music profession in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as the widespread demand for lessons and the revolution in commercialized entertainment created new employment opportunities, and follows the profession through to its subsequent decline, as changing leisure patterns, “talkies,” and relentless improvements in recording technologies displaced both teachers and performers. This wide-ranging study also discusses the origins of musicians’ unions and professional associations, and the proliferation of conservatories and diplomas that persist right up to the present day.


  • Before the flood
  • Making a living
  • The growth of demand
  • Supply and training
  • The flood
  • Gentlemen
  • Players
  • “War”
  • New directions
  • Technology takes command.

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