Friday, February 19, 2016

My talk in Glasgow on trade unionism and the music hall in the first world war

This talk was given in January 2016 at a conference in Glasgow
Working in Music: The Musicians’ Union, musical labour and employment. Mitchell Library, Glasgow, 14 and 15 January 2016.

The abstract of the paper is below, and
you can listen to the MP3 recording here

Music hall and trade unionism during world war one
Singers and musicians in the union journal “The Performer” 1914-1918

John Mullen, Université de Rouen

“The Performer” was the union journal of the Variety Artistes Federation, which was set up in 1906. The VAF represented many different types of performers, but singers and musical performers were an important proportion: no doubt a third of the members were singers. The singers and musicians in the VAF generally travelled from town to town following their bookings, an individualist lifestyle which distinguished them from the majority of musicians, who were employed in house orchestras of music halls or cinemas.

My article using the union journal from the war years and in particular its cartoons aims at analyzing union activity in these years. What ideas were prioritized : patriotism, mutual help, union discipline, respectability, strikes, workers’ solidarity ?

Dr John Mullen is Professor at the University of Rouen in France. He has published widely on the history of popular music. His full length study The Show Must Go On: Popular Song in Britain during the First World War was published by Ashgate in August 2015 as part of the Ashgate Popular and Folk Music series.

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