L. Stanton Jefferies

Leonard Stanton Jefferies LRAM (1896–1961) was a musician, composer, and conductor. He was the first director of music at the British Broadcasting Company, and pioneered techniques for broadcasting live music.

L. Stanton Jefferies

L. Stanton Jefferies at Marconi House in 1922 or 1923.jpg
Mr. Stanton Jefferies before an experimental Marconi microphone in 1922 or 1923
Born(1896-09-04)4 September 1896
Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England
Died22 October 1961(1961-10-22) (aged 65)
Alma materRoyal College of Music
Spouse(s)Vivienne Chatterton

Early lifeEdit

Jefferies was born at Weston-super-Mare on 4 September 1896,[1] and studied organ and piano at the Royal College of Music.[1] His studies were interrupted by World War I,[2] when he served as a naval telegraphist.[3] From 1919 to 1921, he was organist and music director at the church of St Bartholomew-the-Great, in the City of London.[4]


While employed by Marconi, he was appointed, in around June 1922, to Marconi's experimental station 2LO, the British Broadcasting Company's forerunner, to be responsible for concerts broadcast from Marconi House, under the management of Arthur Burrows.[5] By the end of that year, 2LO had been absorbed into the nascent British Broadcasting Company. He was its first director of music.[1] He continued to work for the BBC after it became the British Broadcasting Corporation[6] in 1927.

While at the BBC, Jefferies made broadcasts in which he gave organ recitals[7] and conducted orchestral performances.[8][9] He composed music for Children's Hour programmes,[10] on which he played the character of Uncle Jeff,[11] and undertook the role of what would now be called a continuity announcer.[12] Another of his duties was to build a collection of music recordings, which became the BBC Music Library.[1]

He was responsible for the appointment, in 1923, of Cecil Dixon as the BBC's first accompanist, the two having become acquainted at the Royal College of Music.[13]

Famously, the director of the BBC, John Reith, was once entertaining the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Randall Davidson, who expressed a love of piano music. Reith telephoned the BBC's headquarters, and within minutes, Jefferies was playing Schubert's Marche Militaire, live on air.[14]

In 1924, he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in a series of concerts at the Central Hall, Westminster.[3] However, in 1926, having realised that his opportunities to progress as a musician and conductor were limited,[3] he moved to a more technical role, responsible for the quality of broadcasts.[1] Jefferies left the BBC in June 1935, after further career disappointments,[3] despite support from Adrian Boult.[3] Following military service in World War II[1] (he received an emergency commission as a lieutenant on 20 November 1940[15]), he returned to the BBC as a producer,[6] continuing in the latter role until at least 1956.[16] He retired formally from the BBC that year, though he continued to undertake some work for them until the next year.[1]

In October 1935, shortly after leaving the BBC "with much regret", he published a three-part reminiscence of his radio work, "Soap Box Days", in the magazine Popular Wireless.[2]

He was a Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music (L.R.A.M.).[17]


Jefferies developed new techniques for positioning microphones and controlling sound levels for broadcasting an orchestra, a subject he named "balance and control"; he wrote about this, and more, in The Radio Times,[18][19][20] and it was extensively covered in a 1984 PhD thesis presented to the University of Leicester.[3] Its author, Geoff Matthews, observed:[3]

Jefferies' vantage point gave him the view that regular music broadcasting to new audiences required the adoption of unprecedented altitudes to music production. That view required not only the setting aside of simple distinctions between good and bad music, but a total revision of the instruments, of the physical accommodation, and of the co-operative relations between performers, engineers and support musicians, required by a shift from production of music in concert halls to production of music in a broadcasting organisation.

Jefferies working methods are also described in two autobiographical volumes by his BBC colleague Cecil Lewis: Broadcasting From Within (1924)[21] and Don't Look Back (1974).[22]

Personal lifeEdit

Jefferies died on 22 October 1961,[1] aged 65. His wife, the singer and radio actor Vivienne Chatterton, survived him.[23][24] In the 1930s, they had a cottage at Lyme Regis.[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h (Doctor 1999, p. 402)
  2. ^ a b Jefferies, L. Stanton (5 October 1935). "Soap Box Days" (PDF). Popular Wireless.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Matthews, Geoff (1984). The creation of production practice in the early BBC, with particular reference to music and drama (Thesis). University of Leicester.
  4. ^ "Organists & Directors of Music". Great St Bartholomew. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  5. ^ (Hennessy 2005, p. 114)
  6. ^ a b "Those Were the Days!". Radio Times (1246). 29 August 1947. p. 26. ISSN 0033-8060.
  7. ^ "Organ Recital". Radio Times (80). 3 April 1925. p. 8.
  8. ^ "The London Wireless Orchestra". Radio Times (10). 30 November 1923. p. 13.
  9. ^ "The Messiah". Radio Times (13). 21 December 1923. p. 25.
  10. ^ "The Children's Hour". Radio Times (323). 6 December 1929. p. 60. ISSN 0033-8060.
  11. ^ (Hennessy 2005, p. 317)
  12. ^ (Hennessy 2005, p. 163)
  13. ^ Murphy, Kate (26 September 2016). "'New and important careers': how women excelled at the BBC, 1923–1939" (PDF). Media International Australia. 161 (1): 18–27. doi:10.1177/1329878X16664998. S2CID 151975834.
  14. ^ "BBC – John Reith – This is the BBC – History of the BBC". BBC. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  15. ^ "No. 35034". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 January 1941. p. 127.
  16. ^ "Those Were the Days!". Radio Times (1697). 18 May 1956. p. 48.
  17. ^ "The b.B.C. Staff". Radio Times (2): 28. 5 October 1923.
  18. ^ Jefferies, L. Stanton (28 September 1923). "The Broadcasting of Music". Radio Times. No. 1. p. 18.
  19. ^ Jefferies, L. Stanton (5 October 1923). "How Broadcasting Helps Art". Radio Times. No. 2. p. 39.
  20. ^ Jefferies, L. Stanton (19 October 1923). ""Balancing" a Wireless Orchestra". Radio Times. No. 4. p. 104.
  21. ^ Lewis, Cecil (1924). Broadcasting From Within.
  22. ^ Lewis, Cecil (1974). Don't Look Back.
  23. ^ (Doctor 1999, p. 334)
  24. ^ a b (Lowry 2003, p. xxv)


Further readingEdit

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