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!

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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

beswick

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

 

Holt, Hoyland and Old: The ‘Unsurpassed’ Trombone Section of the Hallé Orchestra

 

By Dr Stephen Etheridge

 The Royal Manchester College of Music’s (RMCM) student records reveal two graduates who would become members of the Hallé Orchestra in a period when the trombone section built a reputation for excellence. When we examine the lives of these players what emerges is that the RMCM was the agency that gave them access to self improvement and status. 

Samuel Lomas Holt (1887-1968)

Early Life

The 1911 Census shows that Samuel (Sam) Lomas Holt was born in Rochdale, in about 1887, but, apart from his army service, he lived in Oldham for his lifetime. In 1911, the year of his entry to the college, Holt was living at 57 Ripponden Road, Oldham. His father, Samuel Henry Holt, aged 51, was also a musician. His mother, Eliza Ann Holt, aged 42, was a shopkeeper. He had two step-siblings, Harry Illingworth Bradshaw, aged 11, and Marjorie Bradshaw, aged 10.

 Brass Band Connections

kingston 1899
Kingston Mills Brass Band, Accrington, 1880s.  Permission Gavin Holman: http://www.ibew.co.uk

Continue reading “Holt, Hoyland and Old: The ‘Unsurpassed’ Trombone Section of the Hallé Orchestra”

The Belle Vue Brass Band Contest, 1914: Bandsmen, Contests, Genealogy & Social Networks

 

bv
The 1914 Belle Vue ‘British Open’ Contest Programme – Permission, University of Salford Archives and Special Collections

 

 The Belle Vue Brass Band Contest, 1914: Bandsmen, Contests, Genealogy & Social Networks

Dr Stephen Etheridge

Link to the Bandsmens’ Names and Addresses

 During the First World War ‘The Belle Vue Champion Challenge Cup’, more commonly known as the ‘British Open’, and which was known colloquially amongst bandsmen as ‘Belle Vue’, was the only large national contest to keep going from 1914-1918. Each contest had a programme printed –cost 1d each, and 1 ½ d by post – that held the names and addresses of all contesting bandsmen. (A downloadable copy is in the link shown above.[1]) These programmes are an important and overlooked source for genealogists. There are, however, several anomalies in this list that need to be examined, not only because of the need for accuracy for the family-history researcher, but also because they shed light on interesting aspects of musical networks as social history.
Continue reading “The Belle Vue Brass Band Contest, 1914: Bandsmen, Contests, Genealogy & Social Networks”

The First Manchester Children’s Society Concert, 1916: RMCM Graduates, Children and Keeping Music-Making Alive?

The First Manchester Children’s Society Concert, 1916: Royal Manchester College of Music (RMCM) Graduates, Children and Keeping Music-Making Alive?

By Dr Stephen Etheridge

Through an examination of the first Manchester Children’s Society Concert, which was held in 1916, this blog will show how the Victorian ethos of ‘Rational Recreation’ still existed, and, as an agency for the continuation of tradition, was highly regarded in Manchester. In other words, on one hand the country was in crisis, but, on the other,  stability and the continuation of tradition by educating children mattered. What was the motivation behind the Manchester Children’s Society Concert and did the ‘Rational Recreation’ ethos influence a lasting legacy?

Continue reading “The First Manchester Children’s Society Concert, 1916: RMCM Graduates, Children and Keeping Music-Making Alive?”