“That Minutes of Last Meeting Pass as Read”: Helmshore Prize Band’s Committee Meeting Minutes, A Case Study of ‘Life as Normal’ and ‘Moral Contracts’ in the First World War

“That Minutes of Last Meeting Pass as Read”: Helmshore Prize Band’s Committee Meeting Minutes, A Case Study of ‘Life as Normal’ and ‘Moral Contracts’ in the First World War

Dr Stephen Etheridge

helmshore-prize-band-1906
Helmshore Prize Band, with committee and supporters,  taken at Sunnybank,  Helmshore, c.1906. (Permission Gavin Holman, http://www.ibew.co.uk)

Helmshore Prize Brass Band were formed in the 1870s and were active in East Lancashire’s Rossendale Valley in the late nineteenth century and throughout the First World War and beyond. They could not be considered a ‘crack’ band, but they were ambitious, entering the majority of local contests and employing trainers and players that would help them win.[1] This was the experience of most bands from the 1860s onwards. Like other bands in the regions surrounding Manchester Helmshore were driven by the need to raise money for the purchase and upkeep of instruments, uniforms and music. In addition, they had to maintain and run a bandroom where they could not only rehearse but also hold social events. [2]

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

 

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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.
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War-time music: A Northern effort

WW1 Northern Effort

The article featured here was written by Sydney H. Nicholson, organist of Manchester Cathedral and the Hon. Secretary of the Committee for Music in War-time (Northern section). Dated October 1918 it neatly sums up the musical situation in the Manchester area throughout the war, as viewed and organised by the Committee. The “Northern effort” in this case appears to be confined to a 20 miles radius of Manchester.

The article was published in the Musical Herald but we found it initially in one of the many volumes of Frederick Dawson’s press cuttings books. Frederick Dawson was a concert pianist, based in the Manchester area, who travelled far and wide, but particularly in the north of England and gave unstintingly of his time and talent to charity concerts during the war. Known by his strap-line as ‘England’s greatest pianist’, he kept all his reviews (plus other interesting articles like this one) which mention him, providing a narrative of his career and other musical activities in the context of the war.

Frederick Dawson is mentioned by Nicholson in this article as having a decisive influence on the success of the Tuesday mid-day concerts. Nicholson also rightly recognised that the Tuesday concerts would be the permanent legacy to Manchester musicians “[doing] their bit” to brighten the lives of both civilians and wounded soldiers during the war.

Ros Edwards and Nick Sternberg
Henry Watson Music Library

Higham’s of Manchester: Brass Instruments, Retail & Military Imagery in an Empire-Building Society

HIGHAM'S
Joseph Higham’s Catalaogue, 1896

 

Higham’s of Manchester: Brass Instruments, Retail & Military Imagery in an Empire-Building Society

Dr Stephen Etheridge: Follow me on Twitter, @DrGtrombone

This week I thought it would be useful to reflect upon  Joseph Higham’s Instrument Catalogue that was published in 1896, some 18 years before the outbreak of hostilities. Higham’s provided most of the bands in the Manchester region with instruments. Using the reflective method of ‘who’, ‘why’ and ‘in what context’ will help us understand the Victorian and Edwardian mind-set in the years leading up to the Great War. On one hand militaristic imagery inferred that all things moral, stable and reliable were reliant on an Empire-building society, but, on the other,this self -assured dominance could only be usurped by modern warfare.

Who Wrote It?

Answer: Joseph Higham’s of Manchester

Joseph Higham established his factory in 1842 near Strangeways in Manchester. Entries in the Slater’s Directory of Manchester and Salford describe the company as, “wholesale brass musical instrument makers to the trade and for export, electroplaters and gilders.”  Within ten years of the company’s foundation it was supplying musical instruments to the British Army and later they added the British Navy to their list of customers.  For much of the time Higham’s factory was located at 127 Great Ducie Street just across the road from the Assize Courts and the Prison. However, according to the various Manchester and Salford Directories, this wasn’t always the case.  In 1850 Joseph Higham, musical instrument maker, had premises at 73 Chapel Street in Salford. And,  by at least 1896, and probably before, we can see that they had a London showroom on Oxford Street. (Source: <manchesterhistory.net>accessed 20.07.2016)

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The Belgian women at the College

By early 1915, there were more than a quarter of a million Belgian refugees in Britain. They had fled their homes after the German army had invaded Belgium in August 1914, an event which directly lead to the British declaration of war. After a chaotic start with refugees arriving in their thousands the newly-formed War Refugees Committee became more organised and more than 2500 local committees were set up to receive and assist Belgian refugees all over the country including the Manchester area. Here are the stories of two talented Belgian women who each contributed to the musical life of the Royal Manchester College of Music during the First War World and in its immediate aftermath.

Both were refugees from the town of Malines (or Mechelen) near Antwerp. Augusta Bertrand was the first recipient of the inaugural Will Pearce Memorial Scholarship for piano which she won in open competition in July 1915 aged 15. The 1915 Annual Report notes that there are three Belgian refugees attending the College. She went on to hold the scholarship for the four years that she was a student in the college. The Scholarship was endowed by Mrs Will Pearce a former student in memory of her late husband who was also a “distinguished student and Halle scholar of the College”. Augusta was taught by Ellen Arthan and was a regular perfomer at the open practices or students’ musical evenings. She also had Ensemble Classes with Dr Brodsky. She completed 12 terms at the College leaving at Midsummer 1919. As most Belgians returned to their country after the war had finished, Augusta probably did the same as I can find no record of a marriage or death in the UK. However, I can find no trace of her in Belgium archives either, so if anyone knows anything further about her, let us know.

Some Belgians remained in the UK like the second musician. Madeleine Vanhamme is mentioned briefly in the Musical Times of March 1915 “The Bolton Amateur Orchestral Society at a Relief Fund concert on January 13, had the assistance of Mlle Madeleine Van Hamme, a Belgian contralto.” She would have been 25 or 26 and probably would have had some singing training in Belgium. One month before the war finished on 7th October 1918, at age 29, Madeleine started her singing studies at the Royal Manchester College of Music under the famed soprano Miss Marie Brema. She completed eight terms at the RMCM until Easter 1921. The same year she married Percy Tankard in Bolton and they had one daughter Patricia Tankard in 1926. Unfortunately, as with many of the women who studied at the RMCM, the next piece of information is her death in 1975 in Merseyside.

What kind of music did they play and sing? Did they know each other? The answer to the second question is certainly yes as they were both in the College from September 1918 to Midsummer 1919 and both were from the same town in Belgium. They also performed in the same Annual Public Examinations of Friday July 18th 1919: Augusta performed the 2nd and 3rd movements of Schumann’s Pianoforte Concerto and Madeleine sang the Beethoven aria “Ah! Perfido”.

As a talented pianist, during her time at the college between 1916 and 1919, Augusta appears many times in the Open Practices playing solos and in ensembles. On Tuesday 10th July 1917, for example, she plays the piano in Beethoven’s Piano & Strings Trio Op. 1 No 3 in in C minor (2nd and 4th movements) with Gertrude Barker and Kathleen Moorhouse. A year earlier on Thursday 8th June 1916 Augusta performs Bach Partita no1 in B flat. In December 1918 she plays two Chopin Studies (Study in E major Op 10 No 3 and Study in A minor Op 25 No 11).

By contrast Madeleine’s appearances at Open Practices seems to have been limited to one on Wednesday February 19th 1919 when she sang two songs by contemporary French composers: “Psyché” by Emile Paladilhe and “L’Ane blanc” by Georges Hüe. Madeleine also performed solos at the In Celebration of Peace concert organised by her teacher Marie Brema on Tuesday December 10th 1918 when she sang two Belgian songs and one French:  “Les Cloches de Flandres” by Paul Kochs, “Ik ken een lied” the most popular song written by the 19th century Belgian composer Willem de Mol, and “Chanson de Route”  by Paul Puget with words by the French writer Alfred de Musset, famous for a two-year affair with novelist Georges Sand, who was also Chopin’s lover.

For some interesting information about Belgian refugees in the Manchester area and where to find further information https://gm1914.wordpress.com/tag/belgian-refugees/ and http://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/448/archives_and_local_history/506/multi-cultural_manchester/11

Katherine Seddon

 

Brass Band Repertoire in Manchester’s Public Parks in World War One: Tradition and Patriotism

phot4876.jpg
Permission from Gavin Holman -www.ibew.co.uk

Brass Band Repertoire in Manchester’s Public Parks in World War One: Tradition and Patriotism, By  Dr Stephen Etheridge

 

1913 was a watershed year for the brass band movement. Labour and Love, Percy Fletcher’s tone poem, was performed at the Crystal Palace Contest.[1] The winning band was Irwell Springs who came from East Lancashire’s Rossendale Valley. Labour and Love was significant as it was composed music of some substance that was available to all bands.[2] It was the first test piece that was composed for the standardised brass band line-up and that the sources can account for fully. As Paul Hindmarsh wrote, ‘it was not part of a local ‘bespoke’ repertoire […].It stands like a solitary beacon in the writing for brass band in the early twentieth century[…].’[3]

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Bandsmen & the Rush to the Colours: September, 1914

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Horwich Old Prize Band, who took part at Belle Vue in 1914, pictured in 1916.

Bandsmen and the ‘Rush to the Colours’: The First Month of World War One: Convergences of Tradition, Class and Gender.

By Dr Stephen Etheridge, GLCM, MA, PhD

 From 1914-1915 there was a swift and unparalleled expansion of Britain’s land forces. As Peter Simkins has written, this ‘was a gigantic act of national improvisation which helped to create not only Britain’s first-ever mass citizen army but also the biggest single organisation in British history up to that time.[1] These first months of recruitment and mobilisation are the subject of this blog and the ones that follow. They describe how the editors and correspondents of band periodicals reacted to civilian bandsmen becoming soldiers. How did bandsmen react to the ‘rush to the colours’ that gripped the nation? How did the bands and bandsmen in and around Manchester react to a conflict that, due to enlistment, could have destroyed a well-established working-class cultural tradition? Answering these questions not only reflects the national picture of the brass band movement but also embraces older Victorian values that illuminate aspects of tradition, class and gender found in the brass bands of the Manchester region.

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