Professor Kenneth Morgan

Frederick Watson Fellow 2008

Topic: An examination of Australia’s professional orchestras between 1932 and 1996
Professor Morgan presented his finding in an article for Memento magazine Issue 38, 2010.

Biographical note

Professor Morgan is a lecturer in History at Brunel University, Uxbridge in the United Kingdom. He holds degrees from the universities of Leicester and Oxford, and is a qualified teacher. In previous years he has been Director of Research for Politics and History, and Senior Tutor in History. Professor Morgan is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and serves as General Editor for British Records relating to America in Microform, which is affiliated to the British Association for American Studies.

Professor Morgan’s specialist interests are the history of Britain and its colonies, primarily in the eighteenth century, and in music history. He has a special teaching and research interest in slavery and the slave trade. He has published six books and has edited or co-edited a further six. He has published over 40 articles in refereed journals. Recent books include The Birth of Industrial Britain: Social Change 1750–1850 (Pearson Longman, 2004), Slavery in America: A Reader and Guide (Edinburgh University Press/University of Georgia Press, 2005), and Fritz Reiner,Maestro and Martinet (University of Illinois Press, 2005). Recent articles have appeared in Historical Research, History, Business History Review and the International Journal of Maritime History.


The focus of Professor Morgan’s research was Australia’s professional orchestras between 1932 and 1996, when they were under the auspices of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC). In the 20th century no other broadcasting station in the world, not even the BBC, played such a major role in stimulating broadcasting and public concerts by its own orchestras, or was instrumental in establishing so many orchestras of professional standard.

Professor Morgan explored the reasons for the ABC’s cultural patronage of orchestras. Themes investigated include the desire to advance the Australian public’s musical education, the mission of a public broadcasting station to cultivate the arts, the crucial role played by enthusiasts at the ABC (such as Sir Charles Moses), the links between the ABC and Australia’s state governments and municipal councils, and financing the orchestras through partnerships between the ABC and various other bodies.

Professor Morgan explained the ABC’s emphasis on the initial establishment of small radio orchestras in the individual states, as well as the evolution of the ABC’s orchestral policy through the promotion of celebrity guest artists from overseas.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2018