Dame Nellie Melba's Microphone

Contributed by Museum of the History of Science

Dame Nellie Melba’s Microphone

The museum has a wonderful collection of early radio apparatus include this historic example of an early microphone. With financial sponsorship from the Daily Mail newspaper, the Marconi Company was persuaded to broadcast the world's first live recital by a professional musician - the legendary Australian diva, Dame Nellie Melba. In a makeshift studio at the Chelmsford factory, using a microphone created with a telephone mouthpiece and wood from a cigar-box, she opened her recital at 19:10 on 15 June 1920 by singing 'Home Sweet Home' and after other popular favourites and several encores, closed with the National Anthem. Her voice, carried from an aerial with towering masts, was heard from as far as Iran and Newfoundland, and it has been suggested that the signal was received so strongly at the Eiffel Tower in Paris that gramophone records were made. The base is singed '1920 Nellie Melba'.

Comments are closed for this object

Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object.

About this object

Click a button to explore other objects in the timeline




View more objects from people in Oxford.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.