Volunteers’ day out – Henry Watson Music Library

By Sarah Reynolds, volunteer

I went to visit the Henry Watson Music Library in The Central Library with Heather and the rest of the team from the R.N.C.M. who have been working on the project, ‘Making Music in Manchester During WW1’. When we had all arrived we met Ros, the librarian who is in charge of the Henry Watson Music library, who also has musical training and is a cellist. Ros says that having some musical experience was an advantage when undertaking the music library due to the associated terminology and jargon that comes with a specialist subject area. She does say that even without any prior musical knowledge it is easy to pick up the essentials quickly and easily.

Continue reading “Volunteers’ day out – Henry Watson Music Library”

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Project update!

The workshops are starting, the content is nearly all online and our exhibitions are being created! It’s full steam ahead at project HQ (my desk).

The workshops

We are working with Instigate Arts to design and deliver workshops which encourage creative responses to the stories we have uncovered and the material we have digitised. Inspire Centre, Levenshulme, had a jolly time of it working on a song arrangement performed at the college from just before the war.

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11 Nov 1913 programme of songs

We’re looking forward to seeing what the fabulous people at HideawayAbraham MossBack On Track, TLC St. Luke’s and Lifeshare think of our collections!

The images

The material we have chosen to digitise is so rich in information. We have programmes and registers from the Royal Manchester College of Music. We have a play and wartime childhood magazine written by composer Alan Rawsthorne when he was just a lad! Letters between musicians talking about how the war is affecting them and their families. Papers re internment of musicians overseas.

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Illustration from Alan Rawsthorne’s satirical wartime play King George V, 1917.

We have, from the Hallé Concerts Society archives, programmes from the war arranged into gorgeous little annotated notebooks from the then librarian. These show all kinds of nuances and tricky programming problems to do with the war.

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Lovely messy librarian’s book from  the Hallé.

From the Henry Watson Music Library, we have the notebooks of Gustav Behrens, parton to much of Manchester’s music organisations. In these he collected notices, programmes and most interestingly newspaper clippings about music making in Manchester during WW1. Full of pure gossip!

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“Music in Wartime” article, 1915, explaining that a committee has been formed to help Manchester’s musicians affected by the war.

The exhibitions

Our portable pop-up banners showing some of the most interesting stories through each collection are being designed as I type and we’re ready to put the content of those onto the wonderful digital displays at Archives+.

We’ll let you know when they’re up and about so you can nip in and see for yourself.

Still to come!

We have yet to get all the images online and will be sharing them on History Pin, too.

We have workshops that are yet to take place and we’re so excited about them.

We have yet to figure out what to do after this project ends in terms of what we want to develop. So! If you have any ideas, do get in touch!

 

 

Music Making, Musicians and Gender

Part of my Volunteer role at the RNCM Archive has been to select content for the final pop-up banners. It has been surprisingly difficult choosing which documents to highlight and write about when telling the stories of the Hallé and the Royal Manchester College of Music during WW1 as there are so many fascinating items. We wanted to tell 3 stories on 3 banners; the changing repertoire, how the musicians, students and teachers were affected and the role of gender within the organisations. As I have now finished this, I thought I would write about some of the items I have chosen here, including items which didn’t make the cut but still give an insight to the changes the war created.

Halle. HA.PR.2.1.61.2 (11)In a Hallé Concerts Society Programme for 1918-1919 there is an advertisement for Forsyth Bros. Ltd. It explains that there is a vast shortage of Pianos as manufacturers were instead made to produce planes for the war. I love the honesty in the advertisement as it admits that the prices for the Pianos are high but reasonable in consideration to the war situation. It also shows how the war must have really effected their Music Business, although there would have been more female students who would have played the Piano during the war, which may have helped.

 

 

Behrens4 (91c)This is the last page of a speech by Gustav Behrens addressed to members of the Hallé Concert Society in 1914. The speech tells of the complications the war would create but the need to continue putting on the Concerts. This last page gives a list of possible Conductors who would be willing to work for free to save the Hallé’s expenditure. Notice how they are all of British, or Allied origin. Finally, it is made clear that the music played will be ‘bright and cheerful’ to keep up moral during Wartime.

 

 

There are various items belonging to Carl Fuchs and amongst them is a Christmas card sent from his Prisoner of War camp in Germany. Carl Fuchs was a German Cello teacher at the Royal Manchester College of Music who had travelled to Germany in 1914 to visit family. Unfortunately, having been in the UK for so long, he was seen as suspicious and was interned at the Rhuleben Internment Camp when war broke out. The camp was quite relaxed and whilst there Carl Fuchs even helped to create a band.

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The 1918 Annual Report for the Royal Manchester College of Music highlights the broad spectrum of troubles the College had coped with during the year such as male students and teachers leaving the college to fight in the war, as well as the teacher Carl Fuchs being detained in Germany. The Roll of Honour lists the names of students who had left the College to fight, including those who were killed in action. With so many male students having left, the College took in a large amount of female students during the war to take their place and were able to keep afloat because of this. There then came such a huge overhaul when after the war, returning men were given grants by the government to attend the college as a sort of rehabilitation programme and the demographics of the college changed once again.

RMCM.B.3.3. (1918 roll of honour)

 

HS.3.3.3.2 (66)It was particularly difficult finding evidence of the Hallé’s introduction of female players, but it was finally discovered whilst scouring through the Halle Society’s Librarian Notebooks where I found a list of names of players in the Hallé Orchestra Concert for February 15th 1917 including 5 women playing second violin. Before the war there were no female players in the Hallé apart from singers or guest players. As the numbers of men dropped during the war, the Hallé had no choice but to introduce female players for the first time. Unfortunately, when Hamilton Hartly became Conductor in 1920 it was all reversed as he was widely apposed to women playing in his Orchestra.

By Volunteer, Kezi Porter

 

How the Hallé adapted during WW1

Recently I have been looking through the Henry Watson Music Library, in particular  Gustav Behrens’ notebooks. Behrens was the Chairman of the Hallé Orchestra Society and his collection of notebooks contain News clippings, letters sent to members, speeches by Behrens, and annual and financial records. Altogether they give an insightful look at the effects WW1 had on the Hallé Orchestra and how different people came together to keep the concerts running during a financially tense and difficult time.

Thomas Beecham

With the war beginning in 1914 the Hallé came into trouble firstly with their conductor Michael Balling being away in his German homeland. A letter addressed to Balling from August 24th 1914 says ‘the whole matter of your conducting the concerts during the continuance of the war is fraught with many difficulties’. As a result, it was decided that there would be a number of guest conductors during the coming concert season with the orchestra finally settling with Thomas Beecham.  For the entirety of Beecham’s time as a Conductor during the war he didn’t take a fee which almost certainly helped towards the Halle’s war time success. Interestingly, advertisements were put out asking for purely English conductors in contrast to the German Mr Balling.

Musicians

As the war progressed the Halle was faced with financial difficulties and tough decisions to make in order to save money and make a profit. It is clear from the records that it was a priority to keep the musicians of the Halle in work. In a speech to the members of the society the Chairman, Gustav Behrens, spoke of how musicians would be ‘placed under the painful necessity of applying for public relief’ if they weren’t in work over the winter season. The speech goes on to say that the musicians will be paid but only half that of their normal rate which the players accepted. Because of this at the end of the 1914-1915 season a profit was made in contrast to the previous season which had made a loss. With the sacrifice the musicians had made in mind, they were then refunded with the profits. During this time a committee was also set up to help musicians of the North. A clipping from the Daily Post advertises the ‘Committee for Music in War Time’ in which Behrens was an Honorary Treasurer. It outlines its duties which were to ‘cover the interests of needy musicians’ by ‘giving employment to singers and instrumentalists who are entirely dependent on their professional work’.

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Gustav Behrens speech 1914
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Gustav Behrens speech 1914

Repertoire

Over the span of the war years the repertoire of the Halle changed. Thomas Beecham, the newly appointed conductor took the opportunity the war on Germany created by introducing music from other nationalities where previously there had been a great focus on German music. One article from the Guardian on September 10th 1915 expresses how there were as many as ’52 composers and almost every nationality from Europe’  in the 1915-1916 season programme. The same clipping also reports ‘the music of living German composers is almost by legal necessity barred’. It wouldn’t have been right to play current German music, but in contrast music by the Great Masters like Wagner and Beethoven, who came before the current German Empire, were very much accepted and loved so Beecham took the opportunity to put on big Wagner nights. Beecham also introduced Saturday concerts where smoking was allowed and there was a more relaxed feel, these concerts proved popular and continued after the war.

Subscribers

The Society’s Annual Reports throughout the war highlight the problems the Hallé encountered during each seasons’ year and how they planned to overcome them, such as increasing subscription fees or asking for an increase of money from Guarantors. Subscription numbers appear to drop throughout the war and the Annual Report for 1916-1917 explains  ‘darkness of the streets’, ‘shortage of petrol’ and ‘curtailment of Railway accommodation’ are all reasons as to why subscribers hadn’t been attending the Concerts.

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Annual Report 1916-1917

It has been really interesting to see through the collection how the Halle was plunged into change during WW1. They faced but overcame many troubles by sacrificing wages and concerts, changing and updating the music played and adding Saturday concerts, all which contributed to keeping the public morale high during the War. In a detailed article from The Times on 20th March 1918, the Halle is described as having a ‘new lease of life’ since the war had begun. It has also been lovely to read how the Musicians livelihoods were at the forefront of the society’s priorities. With the article also mentioning the great success of the Music in War Time Committee being a ‘sign of the increasing interest in serious music’.

By volunteer, Kezi Porter

 

WW1 family history at Royal Manchester College of Music

Did one of your ancestors study at the Royal Manchester College of Music during 1910-1924? Interested in the kinds of students that came and went? Can’t book in to see the archive in person? No worries. Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Lottery players, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve digitised all of our WW1 student programmes, student registers and diploma registers and put them on a fabulous Manchester Digital Music Archive exhibition. Best thing? It’s free to access!

What information you can find

On the student registers, you find the student name, ages, main study (pianoforte, singing, violin etc.), their addresses, who they were responsible to (parent, funding body etc.), their dates of entry and leaving.

You can then cross reference this with the diploma registers. These show which students attained which qualifications.

If you’re interested, you can then have a glance through the programmes of the Royal Manchester College of Music to find if they gave any performances through their time at the College. These records will tell you date of performance, what they performed and who their teacher was.

Tips and tricks for navigating the archive

The student registers are listed chronologically in order of student arrival. Check the leaving date. Then, nip over to he diploma registers and look around that leaving date for their name. These are arranged chronologically in order of when the student graduated.

For programmes, most students gave a performance at one or more of the student examination concerts. So, look for their name around the time when they graduated. They may pop up in student open practice concerts a year or two before that date as well.

There’s a lot of info on some of the images so if you can’t see full image properly in the exhibition, just find it on our contributor’s page.

Find anything interesting? Find your ancestor or someone who used to live on your street? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

What do you think? Keep an eye out for more updates!

Student Registers

I had the pleasure of looking through the student registers to find students whose place at the RNCM was paid for by the government, as part of a post-war scheme.

If you look through the student registers, you will find certain students whose ‘responsible person’ is either the Board of Education, War Pensions, Ministry of Labour or Local War Pensions. This means that their place at the RNCM was paid for by the government after WW1.

I found this very interesting as I was unaware that the government had set up a scheme which enabled soldiers who had been a musician prior to the war, to go back to college to continue their studies. It’s also interesting the notice the range of ages of the students, some young and some older than the rest of the students.

In my opinion, I think this was a great way of helping people to try and go back to normal life after the devastation of the war. I also think it would have been a type of escapism for ex-soldiers, as music can be used as a distraction from real-life.

What was also curious was noticing how many terms these students stayed at the RNCM for; some staying for quite a number of terms but the majority staying for less than 10. Upon discussing the reasons for this, we concluded that it was either because these students were struggling with life post-war or because the government could only pay  their tuition fees for a certain number of terms.

It was definitely interesting discovering the number of soldiers, who had been musicians or students at the RNCM prior to the war, who were able to return to playing and learning music through the government scheme.

By Jessica Watson, volunteer.

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We’re back! New project, new opportunities.

That’s right! We’re back, this time with a fabulous pot of funds from the generous Heritage Lottery Fund. We’ve a new agenda and new horizons to catch. Let’s see what we’ve got planned.

Our new project developed from the evaluation of the previous one. Whilst of AHRC-funded project, “Making Music in Manchester during WWI” did what the project said it would do, there was definitely more that we could do with it.

Continue reading “We’re back! New project, new opportunities.”

Mysteries and Nuances

Check it out! We’ve been published in the Manchester Region History Review. Inside is a summary article about some themes on the project written by RNCM Archivist, Heather Roberts. Browse the fabulous magazine or skip straight to the middle for our article summarising the mysteries and nuances we have been exploring.

Teaching Children about Brass Bands in Manchester During World War One

Teaching Children about Brass Bands in Manchester During World War One

Dr Stephen Etheridge BANNER

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Figure 1. Beswick Prize Band, 1930s. The Band were active from 1894. Permission from Gavin Holman: http://www.ibew.co.uk

 

On the 1 March, 1917, the School Music Review reported in ‘Manchester Music Notes’ that ‘the brass band was a theme dwelt upon at the sixth concert promoted by the Children’s Concert Society. Councillor Will Melland (an active member of the committee) being the lecturer, and the illustrations were furnished by the Beswick Brass Band.’2 (See Fig.1) An examination of this reporting gives us a glimpse of the nature of brass bands and music education in Manchester in 1917.

The Manchester Children’s Society Concerts

As shown elsewhere on this blog, Henry Baynton-Power (1890-?) was a graduate of the Royal Manchester College of Music, who, in 1909, received the Hallé Memorial Pianofortes Scholarship for first year piano and became a well-known pianist, teacher and occasional composer in Manchester.3 Baynton-Power organised the first concert in 1916. His rationale for the concerts was commented on by the School Music Review, who reported that:

Baynton-Power [felt that] whist the adult population of the district enjoyed exceptional opportunities for hearing really good music, it was strange that so little provision had been made for the younger generation [he] resolved, with the aid of his friend, to form a Children’s Concerts Society. The object […] is to provide a series of concerts planned upon the simplest possible lines; a leading musical idea to be brought out prominently at each concert by illustrations from the great masters, performed by capable exponents.4

At their first meeting the committee agreed they should solicit assistance from orchestras,choirs soloists and other instrumentalists. They agreed that the Lord Mayor of Manchester should be President and that the first winter season should consist of seven fortnightly Saturday concerts held in the Houldsworth Hall.5

The first concert was held on November 18, 1916, and the hall was full of schoolchildren from Manchester and Salford. It is notable that adults could attend and support the concerts by subscribing five shillings for a reserved place in each

concert.6 As with most things musical this concert, and the ones that followed, were rooted in the notion that music was an improving rational recreation, especially for the working class.

Bands in Manchester’s Public Parks: Active Visibility.

The first point that Melland highlights is that Manchester’s Public Parks were where brass bands were active (and highly visible). An examination of Manchester’s newspapers shows no shortage of park concerts from Easter through to October, with Heaton Park, for example, offering cheap railway tickets to the concerts. Melland argued that, ‘the principal reason they had selected the brass band for their subject was that the children had the opportunity of hearing good bands in the public parks, and his object was to enable them to recognise and appreciate the value of the various instruments.’7

Melland’s rhetoric was moving away from an image of brass bands being unruly and rough. A view that had developed amongst hostile commentators from the 1840s onwards.8 Melland was joining an ever-increasing group of observers and educators that wanted the band movement to thrive. As he said of brass musicians in the past, ‘bandsmen were not as honoured as they were today….’9 Although the brass band movement worked hard to counter these accusations of roughness – and the region’s ‘crack’ bands, such as Besses o’ th’ Barn, were significant agents in raising the public image of the band movement – some writers found working-class coarseness an easy cliché to copy. Some felt that bands represented not only disorderly elements of working-class life, but also poor musicianship. In 1867, for example, one author wrote:

Brass bands have become a perfect nuisance of late years; blowing away with all their strength. They are always followed by some immense crowd, composed of an admixture of almost all grades of the lower society – “Tagrag and Bobtail.” The greatest objection to these noisy bands will be found in the demoralizing influence upon the members: practices are generally held in the public-house. The exhaustion in blowing a wind instrument for any length of time in the street naturally leads the members of a band to a beer shop, where they too frequently indulge to excess; eventually becoming worthless members of society, instead of finding their music a source of pleasure to them.10

In spite of this negativity amongst some of the press it was clear that by the First World War brass bands were seen as a positive influence on working-class life. It was this influence that educators wanted to show children. The parks in Manchester were accessible and affordable and gave children the opportunity hear music often.

The Beginnings of Musicology for Children?

What was significant about this lecture was that Melland spent some considerable time explaining the influence of the saxhorn upon the brass band movement. (The invention of the saxhorn was important in developing the brass band as we know it today and an outline of the development of brass instruments can be found on this link.) With the assistance of Beswick Prize Band many of the instruments were demonstrated and explained in detail.11 As the School Music Review reported, ‘he next dwelt on the structure of the instruments, explaining the importance of the mouthpiece and the use of the valves and slides, each instrument, from the soprano cornet to the bass bombardon, being held up in turn so that the youngsters could recognise it by its size and shape.’12 During the afternoon Beswick Prize Band played the following selections: Hymn of Praise (Mendelssohn); Salut D’Amour (Elgar); Les Cloches De Corneville (Planquette); The Mikado (Sullivan) and Songs of England. (No composer cited) This programme mirrored brass band repertoire played by the region’s bands.

In the final analysis, in this lecture, brass bands were deemed respectable enough for children’s education. Bands had moved on  from being an occasionally rough and particularly masculine working-class hobby,  and had grown into a respectable agency that could be utilized in teaching children about music. It was true that brass bands relied upon their own internal and self-replicating methods of instruction – that placed an emphasis on learning from experienced mentors – but Manchester’s Public Parks, together with the bands that played in them, were expressions of music education in a time when music teaching for young children external to the brass band movement was patchy.

Notes and References:

2 ‘Manchester Music Notes’. The School Music Review : a Monthly Periodical Devoted to the Interest of Music in Schools (London / New York: March, 1917)25/298 p. 160

3 Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (1 December, 1909)

4 School Music Review: p. 112.

5 School Music Review, p. 112.

6 School Music Review, p. 112.

7 ‘Manchester Music Notes’, p. 160.

8 This cliché is based in the dichotomy of north and south and hard and soft. See, Stephen Etheridge, ‘Southern Pennine Brass Bands and the Creation of Northern Identity, c. 1840-1914: Musical Constructions of Space, Place and Region’ in, Northern History, Volume 54, March, 2017, pp tbc.

9 ‘Manchester Music Notes’, p. 160

10 Musical Standard, Vol 7, No 175 (7 December, 1867), p. 359.

11 The development of the brass band is too lengthy for this blog. Bands emerged from the 1820s from a mix of woodwind and brass instruments, influenced by military bands, through a number of phases, to, by the 1870s, the standard band instrumentation seen today. Key stages were the invention of the keyed bugle (1820s); the invention of the piston valve (invented no later than 1814 and was developed through 1827-1850). The development of the saxhorn, invented by Adolph Sax in the 1840s and 1850s, was also significant. The saxhorn was later promoted by the Distin Family whose popular concerts showed it to be a melodious instrument. Key texts for the development of brass bands are T. Herbert, ed.The British Brass Band: A Musical and Social History (Oxford, 2000); E. Mitroulia, ‘Adolphe Sax’s Brasswind Production With a Focus on Saxhorns and Related Instruments’ (unpub. Ph.D. Thesis, Edinburgh Univ. 2011) and A. Myers, ‘Instruments and Instrumentation of British Brass Bands’, in, Herbert, ed. The British Brass Band, pp.155-186.

12 Manchester Music Notes’, p. 160

 

The effect of the war on the theatre business

As you would expect, the war had a huge impact on the theatre business. Actors and musicians were called up to active duty and some did not make it back. As well as this there was the massive financial impact with the introduction of entertainment tax making it more expensive for those at home to attend the various shows.

Arthur Catterall, the English violinist and R J Forbes, the pianist from Stalybridge were both called up to active duty in July 1917. While neither of them actually left England, Frederick Blamey, the English tenor, served in the air force until the end of the war. Some performers did not return, in June 1917 the actor Charles Bibby was reported missing and in the same month Edwin Batty, a contributor to the Manchester Programme was killed in action. Even those who were lucky enough to return did not always have a career to return to as shown by the Goosen’s family. Eugene Goosens was a conductor who worked in Beccham’s operas, his son Eugene Junior followed in his footsteps. He had 2 other sons, Adolph was a pianist but died from wounds at war in August 1916. His other son Leon was an oboeist but did have to serve and therefore did not share a stage with his father and brother.

cheap-cober

As well as the impact of the musicians and actors being called up to active duty, there were many financial burdens for the theatre business as a result of war. The front cover of The Manchester Programme was usually very colourful, printed on good quality card with gold leaf detail added (see featured image). Many times throughout the war the front cover was printed on cheap coloured paper with no added colour or detail (see picture above). While i can not say for certain why this was, a few things have been suggested to me such as the printers strike and limited supplies in wartime. The government introduced an entertainment tax in 1916 which meant that theatres had to make the decision of whether to take this extra cost or pass it onto the customers via tickets prices. The Halle worked at a loss of £558 in that season with the blame being placed on the dark times, as streets were dark, there were petrol shortages and it was a particularly bad winter. Most theatres could not afford to take the extra cost and chose the increase their ticket prices. In Feb 1917, the Palace increased their prices on Saturday nights and during the holidays, they also increased the number of performances to twice nightly to increase revenue. In July 1917 the entertainment tax was rising again which caused protests from the entertainment properties and managers association. They claimed that since the introduction of the tax over 700 places of amusement had closed and that increasing the tax would only lead to more closures and more people out of work and therefore less income tax being paid. They argued that this was counterproductive and depriving the public of entertainment at a time when they needed it the most. The only entertainment venues exempt from the tax were the army theatres set up to entertain the soldiers. With so much financial pressure on regular theatres these came under criticism from the Theatres Alliance. The alliance argued against them being exempt from tax and also from soldiers being allowed to bring a lady friend to these shows. They claimed that they were taking custom from the other theatres as the lady friend would maybe have attended a regular theatre had she not been invited to the army theatre.

Considering the financial burden and decreasing number of musicians and audience members due to the war it is astounding that the theatres remained opened for business and still attracted large audiences during the war period

By Katrina Ingram