Celebrating 50 Years of Music and Tonmeister degrees

The University of Surrey’s Department of Music and Media is celebrating 50 years of the Music, and Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) degrees at Surrey this academic year, with the first degrees started in the 1970/71 academic year. We took a look at the 1970/71 University of Surrey Prospectus (UA/PN/13/5) to see what it tells us about the beginnings of the courses.

The introduction to the Degree Course in Music reads:

“During recent years the great advances in the means of mass communication brought about by modern technology have led to an ever-increasing interest in music, through the media of recordings, radio, films and television.”

It goes on to say that this has resulted in an increased demand for musicians not just to work as performers, conductors and composers, but also work in programme editing and planning, journalism, and the technological aspects of music in radio, television, recording and film studios, as well as the fields of theatre, the concert hall, academia and teaching. The prospectus states:

“This expansion of interest in music, and the great widening of its range of application, has made it abundantly clear that there is a need in this country for a new-style Degree course in Music, whose structure takes into account these new developments.”

There would be two main categories of music students at the university: those whose predominantly interested in music itself, and those who are more interested in the application of modern technology to the reproduction of music.

Whilst the first Music students began their course in a converted boiler room underneath University Hall, plans were soon underway for a purpose-built building. A memorandum from the then Vice Chancellor Professor Anthony Kelly in 1978 reads ‘I fully support the idea that the external appearance of the Music Department and indeed its interior fittings should represent a building with some character of which we can be proud’. (D1/198/1).

The resulting building, the Performing Arts Technology Studios, was formally opened in 1988. Its distinctive entrance is still recognisable but campus generally looks much barer than it does now!

Photograph of the exterior of the Performing Arts Technology Studios with Guildford Cathedral in the background, 1988 (US/PH/1/2/352/1). From the University of Surrey Archive, © University of Surrey.
Photograph of the entrance to the Performing Arts Technology Studios, 1988 (US/PH/1/2/354/3). From the University of Surrey Archive, © University of Surrey.