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ALL IN IT TOGETHER?
ORGANISING
MUSICIANS IN THE
FIRST WORLD WAR
JOHN WILLIAMSON
UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW
31ST AUGUST 2014
INTRODUCTION: 4 PARTS
CONTEXT: emergence and growth of Amalgamated
Musicians’ Union (AMU)
TRADE UNIONS AND THE WAR: chan...
ORGANISING MUSICIANS BEFORE
THE WAR
PRE C.19TH: Guilds, Fellowships and Brotherhoods
offered professional status and bene...
ORGANISING MUSICIANS BEFORE
THE WAR
AMU formed by Joe Williams in 1893 in Manchester
“a protecting union . . .that will ...
ORGANISING MUSICIANS BEFORE
THE WAR
BUT – both organisations grew rapidly – AMU has
8000 members by 1914 – by far the lar...
TRADE UNIONS AND THE WAR
Competing internal and external influences on the
AMU.
External influence from the TUC:
droppi...
TRADE UNIONS AND THE WAR
Hutt: “a decisive break for the trade union movement”
Webb and Webb: unions became “part of the...
AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS,
COMPETITION IN DURING WAR
3 issues - pay, competition from (i) military musicians
and (ii) for...
AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS,
COMPETITION IN DURING WAR
War was to present more opportunities for musical
work – market for ...
AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS,
COMPETITION IN DURING WAR
Military musicians had been seen as a threat since
the formation of ...
AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS,
COMPETITION IN DURING WAR
During the War, the displacement of civilian musicians
by bandsmen w...
AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS,
COMPETITION IN DURING WAR
‘foreign’ musicians: German and Hungarian
musicians returned home at...
AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS,
COMPETITION IN DURING WAR
Williams set out support for “comrades in arms” from
Belgium and Fra...
POST-WAR OUTCOMES
Williams: “if one considers the tremendous upheaval
caused by the War, our profession has not been
affe...
POST-WAR OUTCOMES
Williams: “if one considers the tremendous upheaval
caused by the War, our profession has not been
affe...
POST-WAR OUTCOMES
AMU continued to grow with the profession and merged
with what was the Orchestral Association in 1921 t...
POST-WAR OUTCOMES
THANKS!
John Williamson / John.C.Williamson@glasgow.ac.uk
http://www.muhistory.com
All in it together? Organising musicians in the First World War
All in it together? Organising musicians in the First World War
All in it together? Organising musicians in the First World War
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All in it together? Organising musicians in the First World War

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slides from a paper given at the RMA Music of War conference at The British Library, 31st August 2014.

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All in it together? Organising musicians in the First World War

  1. 1. ALL IN IT TOGETHER? ORGANISING MUSICIANS IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR JOHN WILLIAMSON UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW 31ST AUGUST 2014
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION: 4 PARTS CONTEXT: emergence and growth of Amalgamated Musicians’ Union (AMU) TRADE UNIONS AND THE WAR: changing attitudes and influence on workers THE AMU & THE MUSIC PROFESSION: how the AMU managed the disputes within the profession over matters of pay and competition OUTCOMES: reorganisation and perennial issues
  3. 3. ORGANISING MUSICIANS BEFORE THE WAR PRE C.19TH: Guilds, Fellowships and Brotherhoods offered professional status and benevolence By the mid-1800s: industrialisation + demand for entertainment = more musical work but poor working conditions. Catalyst for workers in music profession becoming more organised. (Incorporated) Society of Musicians formed in 1882; Union of Graduates in Music (1893)
  4. 4. ORGANISING MUSICIANS BEFORE THE WAR AMU formed by Joe Williams in 1893 in Manchester “a protecting union . . .that will protect us from amateurs, unscrupulous employers and ourselves” Orchestral Association formed in London in 1893 – not a trade union, but many of the same aims. Still opposition from established music profession: “no support from this journal” (The Musical News, Nov. 1894)
  5. 5. ORGANISING MUSICIANS BEFORE THE WAR BUT – both organisations grew rapidly – AMU has 8000 members by 1914 – by far the largest musicians’ organisation. SHARED ISSUES (pay and conditions, competition from non-members) but CONFLICT between AMU and LOA – lack of unity even within organised part of music profession
  6. 6. TRADE UNIONS AND THE WAR Competing internal and external influences on the AMU. External influence from the TUC: dropping of opposition to War industrial truce: “closing any disputes and in preventing the commencement of new disputes in present circumstances”
  7. 7. TRADE UNIONS AND THE WAR Hutt: “a decisive break for the trade union movement” Webb and Webb: unions became “part of the social machinery of the State” Wrigley: “a massive boost to collective bargaining” AMU / Williams were extremely supportive of the War
  8. 8. AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, COMPETITION IN DURING WAR 3 issues - pay, competition from (i) military musicians and (ii) foreign musicians Pay: Williams agreed to pay cuts with major employers on the outbreak of War. Protest from branches about acting unconstitutionally and cuts when it became clear that work was returning to normal after initial disruption cause by War
  9. 9. AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, COMPETITION IN DURING WAR War was to present more opportunities for musical work – market for musical work was recalibrated. “The Union will long have cause to think itself lucky that the General Secretary acted as an autocrat in the crisis” (Musicians’ Report and Journal)
  10. 10. AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, COMPETITION IN DURING WAR Military musicians had been seen as a threat since the formation of the AMU: “civilian musicians have to pay for their tuition, their own instruments, have to support themselves and their families and contribute their mite towards the support of soldiers . . .military bandsmen are taught free have their instruments paid for, and, being soldiers, are provided for” (AMU Monthly Report, Feb 1895)
  11. 11. AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, COMPETITION IN DURING WAR During the War, the displacement of civilian musicians by bandsmen was cause of much AMU complaint / rhetoric but to little avail . . .War Office sees “no reason to interfere in the matter”
  12. 12. AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, COMPETITION IN DURING WAR ‘foreign’ musicians: German and Hungarian musicians returned home at outbreak of War; refugees from Belgium and France arrived in early stages of War. Domestic musicians feared jobs would be taken by refugees. “antipathy to foreigners” and “xenophobia” evident to varying degrees in assorted branch / district motions to Union’s executive.
  13. 13. AMU, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, COMPETITION IN DURING WAR Williams set out support for “comrades in arms” from Belgium and France – solidarity of unionists overriding nationality, when “not injuring our own members’ interests” The Union finally agreed to allow foreign musicians to join but “subjects of the Central Powers and their allies shall not be allowed to become members of our Union. Exceptions may be made with the consent of the EC in special cases where men have been good members of the Union.”
  14. 14. POST-WAR OUTCOMES Williams: “if one considers the tremendous upheaval caused by the War, our profession has not been affected to any serious extent.” AMU (& Williams) played a considerable part in ensuring that was the case. Post War integration was easier than expected thanks to “seemingly limitless opportunities.”
  15. 15. POST-WAR OUTCOMES Williams: “if one considers the tremendous upheaval caused by the War, our profession has not been affected to any serious extent.” AMU (& Williams) played a considerable part in ensuring that was the case. Post War integration was easier than expected thanks to “seemingly limitless opportunities” in profession.
  16. 16. POST-WAR OUTCOMES AMU continued to grow with the profession and merged with what was the Orchestral Association in 1921 to form Musicians’ Union BUT optimism about better relations with employers proved to be unfulfilled: pay and conditions did not dramatically improve and threat to employment from Military musicians and from ‘Americans and other Alien musicians’ remained. AMU survived the War but problems facing it as an organisation were unresolved and new ones to emerge . . .
  17. 17. POST-WAR OUTCOMES
  18. 18. THANKS! John Williamson / John.C.Williamson@glasgow.ac.uk http://www.muhistory.com

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