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Early musicians' unions in Britain, France, and the United States: on the possibilities and impossibilities of transnational militant transfers in an international industry

David-Guillou, Angèle (2009) Early musicians' unions in Britain, France, and the United States: on the possibilities and impossibilities of transnational militant transfers in an international industry. Labour History Review, 74 (3). pp. 288-304. ISSN 1745-8188

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Abstract

The end of the nineteenth century marks the beginnings of the popular music industry. Although the symbolic figures of this period are undoubtedly the decadent music-hall stars, the situation for the majority of musicians was all but glamorous. As their working conditions ineluctably deteriorated from the 1870s onwards, many started to consider the possible benefits of unionization. In this context, modest instrumentalists often chose to leave their country of origin in search of better opportunities abroad, while music-hall singers were touring the world in the hope of increasing their audience. This international professional mobility led to numerous artistic exchanges. It also facilitated militant transfers between the newly formed musicians' unions. This article examines the progress of the music industry and its impact on the conditions of performing musicians in Britain, France, and the United States from the 1870s to the 1920s. Keeping in mind the wider evolution of the traditional labour movement, we study the emergence of musicians' unions in these international circumstances and analyze the transnational relations between the French, British, and American associations, which culminated in the creation of the 1904 International Confederation of Musicians. Finally, as unions were exchanging ideas and ultimately influencing each other, we consider the possibilities and impossibilities of transnational militant transfers in an industry where the attitude towards art and labour was essential and ultimately so rooted in national identity.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/maney/lhr;js...
Additional Information: © 2009 Society for the Study of Labour History
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Sets: Research centres and groups > LSE Library
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2011 14:40
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/30555/

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