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!

‘The Man Fro’ Lancashire’: Prisoners of War and Lancashire Musical Donations

‘The Man Fro’ Lancashire’: Prisoners of War and Lancashire Musical Donations

Dr Stephen Etheridge

Prisoners.png
Figure 1. French, Belgian and Russian Prisoners of War forming a band. Including, with the baton, ‘the man fro’ Lancashire’. (Rossendale Free Press, 3 June, 1916)

On June 3, 1916, the Rossendale Free Press published this picture which included an unknown ‘man fro’ Lancashire’, who, the photograph and the newspaper suggests, was the conductor of a ‘scratch band’ of musicians in an unknown German prisoner of war camp. The piece intrigued me not only because it tells us a little about the nature of these camps, but also because the local reporting from Rossendale, in East Lancashire, informs us about the musical nature of people in the regions surrounding Manchester, the very people that would have attended concerts, park events and brass band contests in the city.

Continue reading “‘The Man Fro’ Lancashire’: Prisoners of War and Lancashire Musical Donations”

The Potsdam Musicians

Just before WW1, a photograph of five members of the London Symphony Orchestra returning from the 1912 tour of USA on the liner SS Potsdam reveals very close connections with Manchester.

Prof John Miller

1912-lso-on-board-the-potsdam-600dpi-copy

Jesse Stamp, Harry Barlow, John Bridge, Walter Hatton, Arthur Gaggs (front) on board the SS Potsdam in 1912.[i]

 

Jesse Stamp (1885 – 1932) was without doubt the virtuoso trombonist of his day. He was brought up in Chorlton, a son of a professional musician (at times a circus musician), studied and graduated at the MRCM 1904 – 1907, and by 1911 was the breadwinner for three brothers and two sisters living in Southport. At this time he appears to be a boarder in Brixton when undertaking work in London.[ii] He joined the LSO in 1909 and was made principal trombone in 1911. He was on the board of directors for the 1923-24 season and left the orchestra in 1928. In addition he played in the orchestra of the Royal Philharmonic Society at its centenary in 1912[iii] and was a founder member of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1930.

Jesse Stamp, like Ernest Hall, fellow trumpeter from Liverpool, moved south and stayed south. On the outward voyage to USA in 1912 he was subject of a practical joke. The diary of LSO timpanist Charles Turner reads:

“Monday 1 April 1912

I forgot to mention this is the 1st of April and at breakfast 7.30am someone called out that war ships were to be seen. Jesse Stamp (trombone) bit and getting up from the table got his glasses and getting on the couch gazed earnestly over the sea for the ships which of course he did not find, In the meantime, all the people in the dining room found it out and Jesse received a great storm of laughter and applause much to his discomforture and he sat down very sheepishly to resume.”[iv]

 

 

Harry Barlow (1870 – 1932).

The composer Havergal Brian wrote: “I was sorry to read of the death of Harry Barlow, the well known tuba player. As long ago as 1906 I heard the late Dr. Richter, while talking of the personnel of the Hallé Orchestra, refer to Barlow as the finest tuba player in all Europe. He was sure to be found in the London Symphony Orchestra, or in the Covent Garden Opera Orchestra, when Richter was conducting. Barlow’s genius lay in focusing the tone-colour of his tuba into the three trombones, and making it sound a real trombone bass: this is impossible to the ordinary trombone player. […] Barlow was a native of Besses o’ th’ Barn, and was possessed of a fine sense of humour, which undoubtedly helped him along life’s way. […] Like the late Jesse Stamp, the well known trombonist, Barlow had been playing recently in the BBC orchestra; it is curious that he should have died so soon after his fellow-Lancastrian.”[v]

Barlow first shows up in the Hallé Free Trade Hall programmes in 1893, playing ophicleide, and he continues until 1895 conducted by Adolph Brodsky, just after Hallé’s death. He first appears playing the tuba in 1896, under Frederick Cowan. He can be regarded as one of the first great modern tuba players, and amongst his many activities he designed several models of instruments, including one played in the Hallé by Stuart Roebuck until retirement in 1984. Barlow has been described as a “man of many parts”, for example directing the Oxford Road’s Grosvenor Picture House orchestra from the piano, or conducting Besses o’ th’ Barns Band.[vi]

 

Arthur Gaggs (1879 – 1961)

Arthur Gaggs came from a Manchester musical family. His father Joseph (described as a Professor of Music in the 1891 census) played 2nd cornet with the Hallé from 1868 – 70.[vii] Arthur probably studied with Franz Paersch (1857-1921) who was principal horn of the Hallé and also the Royal Italian Opera (Covent Garden) from 1883 – 1914. Paersch certainly took Gaggs under his wing as second horn in Manchester before WW1. Gaggs had a long career as a horn player in Manchester and moved to the BBC Northern Orchestra in 1934.

I wonder whether the photograph was taken by Joseph W. Gaggs, a Mancunian violinist in the LSO on the USA tour?

 

John Bridge (1872 – 1945)

John Bridge became a member of the Hallé in 1893, the year of the foundation of the MRCM, and rose steadily through the orchestra’s ranks. Richter took him (along with Barlow) to the ROH for the 1904-5 spring season, and he was appointed principal second violin of the Hallé in 1914. During WW1 he stayed in Manchester and in addition to his orchestral activities was most notably a member of the Catterall Quartet, playing for the Ancoats Brotherhood, in the Midland Hall, Leighton Hall, The New Islington Hall and other venues. Two of his brothers enlisted for the services; Harry served with the Machine Gun Corps., and his younger brother Herbert was killed in Belgium whilst serving with the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Later in his career, in 1928, John Bridges joined the MRCM staff.[viii]

 

Walter Hatton (1869 – 1939)

The most senior member in the photograph had perhaps the most distinguished career. Hatton was the cellist in the original Brodsky Quartet from 1915 – 1925 and a highly regarded Manchester teacher.[ix]

 

What became of the Potsdam?

The five musicians in the photograph all survived WW1, but what became of the ocean liner? The Dutch liner, the SS Potsdam was to experience a wartime fate at a later date. It was renamed the Stockholm in 1915 by the Swedish American line, and later renamed the Sonderburg when captured by the Germans in 1941. It was finally scuttled in Cherbourg in 1944.[x]

[i] Permission LSO Archive.

[ii] The 1911 census shows him as the family head at 30 Myrtle Grove Southport, and as a boarder at 13 Robert Road, Brixton (with a birthdate of 1886 recorded).

[iii] Robert Elkin, Queen’s Hall (Rider & Co, 1944) pp 49, 55.

[iv] Courtesy LSO archive.

[v] Musical opinion, August 1932, p.901.

[vi] See Clifford Bevan, The Tuba Family (Piccolo Press, 2000), pp 378 – 382 for information on Harry Barlow. A portrait of Stuart Roebuck with his “Barlow F tuba” is found on page 383.

[vii] The 1891 census shows the family living in Chorlton when père Joseph is age 45 and Arthur is age 12.

[viii] For more detailed information see Stuart Scott, John S Bridge, A Manchester Musician in www.musicweb-international.com written December 2011, accessed 10/09/2016.

[ix] See Michael Kennedy, The History of the Royal Manchester College of Music 1893 – 1927, pages 74 – 79.

[x] www.norwayheritage.com accessed on 10/09/2016

 

John Robert Fielden: Soldier, Bandsman or Quarryman? Questions of Working-Class Identity in the Rossendale Valley

John Robert Fielden: Soldier, Bandsman or Quarryman? Questions of Working-Class Identity in the Rossendale Valley

Dr Stephen Etheridge

Private John Robert Fielden (1882-1916) S/13191 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders

 

bio-fielden

 

John Robert Fielden was born in 1882 in Blackwood, near Stacksteads, in East Lancashire’s Rossendale Valley. He was the only son of James and Eliza Fielden[1] He was a pupil at Waterbarn Baptist School, where he took an interest in music.[2] Being interested in instrumental music he was for a long time associated with the Bacup Change Brass Band, and for some years held the post of secretary. He was employed as a quarryman at Rakehead Quarries in Rossendale up to October 1915. In 1908; he married Clara Wood, from Bacup, and lived at Queen’s Terrace. In 1915 he was one of the last employees to leave the quarries of Messers Lovick and Sons, and, via various regimental transfers, he served as a signaller with the 1st Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders. In 1916 they took part in the Actions of The Bluff and St Eloi Craters then moved to The Somme for The Battle of Albert. He died of leg-wounds inflicted from machine gun fire on the 26 August, 1916 and is buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery (Reg V.A. 17) [3]

Continue reading “John Robert Fielden: Soldier, Bandsman or Quarryman? Questions of Working-Class Identity in the Rossendale Valley”

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”

FODEN’S BAND and its great soloist, EDWIN FIRTH

Prof John Miller

Foden’s Band, a partner of RNCM from Sandbach, Cheshire, was founded in 1900 and rose to prominence in the brass band world prior to WW1. Here is part of its rich history.

Foden’s Band was founded in 1900, initially as a consequence of celebrations of the Relief of Mafeking. After a few growing pains and fall-outs, the band was temporarily called the Elworth Band. Prior to the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, the band was adopted by Edwin Foden (1841–1911), the proprietor of a local steam wagon works. He eventually re-named the ‘Foden Motor Works Band’ which, after some modest beginnings, improved drastically and achieved Championship Section status, winning the British Open Championships in 1912 and 1913. Since then the band has consistently ranked amongst the best brass bands in the world. Its rapid rise in standards was due to the Foden family appointing the best band trainers of the day, William Rimmer and William Halliwell. To this day the Foden’s Band’s calling card is a William Rimmer march, The Cossack (1904).

phot4321

Continue reading “FODEN’S BAND and its great soloist, EDWIN FIRTH”

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?”

Did musical theatre become more female focused during the war?

The titles of musical plays and musical comedies tended to be more female prior to the war. In the 18 months leading up to the outbreak of war there were 27 such plays showed in Manchester with 15 of them having a title that was in someway female. By female titling i mean having a girls name in the title or the words ‘girl’, ‘mistress’, ‘princess’, ‘she’, ‘her’ etc. the rest of the musical plays in that period had gender neutral titles. Between July 1914 and December 1915 there were 44 musical plays performed in Manchester, of these 44 there were 20 that were female titled, so again quite a high percentage. 23 were gender neutral in their title and one was called ‘The Chocolate Soldier’, the only one that could in anyway be seen as a male titled play.

While the titles of musical plays and comedies had always been more female focused, the articles written about the plays were fairly evenly balanced. I noticed that from December 1914, however, the attention seemed to fall more onto the women in the cast than the men. Many of the articles just gave a brief description of the plot and named the composer and some of the main cast members, this was complimented by a picture of one of the cast members (see featured image). Throughout 1915 there were 20 articles written about musical plays and comedies, 17 of these articles featured a picture of a female cast member, whereas only 2 featured a picture of male cast member and 1 included a picture of a man and woman. The articles themselves did not always focus on the women, they continued with their usual commentary on the storyline of the play.

What was the reason for this shift? Could it be due to there being more female cast members with many men fighting in the war? Could it be that they felt it was better advertising to use women in the pictures rather men? Whatever the reason for the shift it did not apply to musical opera. The articles written on the opera companies remained fairly evenly split with some featured photographs being women and some being men.

It would seem that the reason for the shift in musical theatre was not due to a changing and evolving attitude among the men in the business. When Miss Boyle of the Womens Freedom league reported that many women who had been employed as assistants in Public Libraries may be given more responsible posts, Strephon retorted “Anything you like my dear, but don’t let ’em write novels”

by Katrina Ingram

Patriotic passion or angry anti-German ranting?

By the time the war had been raging for a year you could see the patriotism quite plainly within the pages of the Manchester Programme. In the summer of 1915, the Programme wrote an article dedicated to General Noel Lee and Colonel Hayward of the East Lancashire Territorial division. This could be due to many of the theatres being closed for summer vacation at the time and therefore less show-business to report on, it was patriotic none the less. The patriotism was also prevalent in the concerts, for example, the Brand Lane Orchestra held a ‘concert by the allies’ in October 1915. This concert included a French Bass, a Russian pianist and a Belgian violinist.

One man who had been quite vocal in his patriotism within the pages of the Manchester Programme since the war broke out was their lead columnist, Strephon. This continued into 1915 getting more passionate/angry as the weeks went by. In March 1915 he again complained that not enough professional footballers had enlisted, with only 122 out of the possible 1800 having signed up to fight. He claims to understand that football is a business and also an entertainment which was important to keep spirits high at home but all young men had been called up to fight and without them we would lose the war. The following month he was furious that a German professor had declared that the British people were basically German, he claimed he would rather be compared to “the men whose heads grew beneath their shoulders” as mentioned in Othello, than the ‘baby-killers and pirates’. His patriotic passion seems to have turned to angry anti-German sentiment which gets worse over the next few weeks. None of his columns discuss music or the theatre business between April and June, instead he chose to rant about Germans every week.

In May he was angered by German people celebrating Shakespeare. He claimed his anger was due to Shakespeare being a clean and honest gentlemen and the Kaiser’s soldiers “do not fight with chivalry but more like Lucrezia Borgia”. He adds that he doubts you could find such a clean, honest man in ALL GERMANY!! With this statement he is speaking out against all German citizens, not just the soldiers, so can no longer be classed as passionate patriotism. He goes on to call the Germans “dastards, sneaks, liars, women-beaters and poisoners”. A couple of weeks later, after the bombing of the Lusitania, he adds murders and barbarians to this list of insults and accuses the Germans of poisoning the wells, destroying cathedrals and killing babies.

His ranting came to an abrupt halt the following week after riots began in London, with people attacking German residents and businesses. He commented on the riots saying that this behaviour does not help with the war and that by attacking businesses it is costing British people their jobs. In August he mentions conscription again but uses encouragement rather than shame to entice young men to sign up. People were saying that as long as Britain holds the sea then the army is of co consequence as an excuse for not enlisting but Strephon says we should be fighting alongside our allies on land as holding the sea is useless if Germany win the war. In another article, he says “we are going to beat Germany. Great is the courage and spirit of our soldiers and sailors!”.

Nice to see him return to his enthusiastic, patriotic tone.

by Katrina Ingram