illiam Weber, in his pioneering study of music and the middle class in London, Paris and Vienna in the first half of the nineteenth century, revealed that 'by 1848 a commercial concert world had emerged in each city, over which the middle class exerted powerful, if not dominant, control'.1 While the proliferation of concerts was remarkable, it should be borne in mind that they involved fewer organizational problems than, say, opera. Britain's population doubled in the sixty years after 1870, but the increase in musicians was sevenfold, a fact Cyril Ehrlich puts down to expanded demand 'derived, in large measure, from an efflorescence of commercial entertainment'.2 Antagonisms provoked by commercial interests in music began in the same period. Composers were beginning to depend for their livelihood on the wealdiy bourgeoisie. It was not simply a matter of ensuring that the bourgeoisie attended their concerts. To earn a living, musicians were diversifying - teaching, writing and publishing - as wed as performing and composing. Publishers sponsored in areas of their commercial interest: Novelio supported oratorio concerts; Roosey ran ballad concerts; Chappell was involved in the founding of St James's Hall and promoted the firm's music at the Monday and Saturday 'Pops'.
In tandem with the growdth of a commercial music industry, the term 'popular' changed its meaning during the course of the century, moving from well known to well received to successful in terms of sheet music sales. A related development was the reluctance to accept as a folk song anything with an identifiable composer, an effective means of excluding commercial popular song. Folk music came to mean national music, an ideological shift aligning it with bourgeois aspirations and identity rather than the lower class.3 In London, during 1855-59, William Chappell felt comfortable giving the title Popular Music of the Olden Time to a collection of traditional songs. In the 1890s, however, Frank Kidson explained that he was driven to collecting the material he published as English Peasant Songs by the desire to counter the accusation that England had no national music.4 The concept of a national music brought with it the notion that it was to be found in the country rather than the town.
For Raymond Williams, copyright and royalty are the two significant indicators of the changed relations brought about by professionalization and the capitalist market for cultural goods.5 The enforcement of copyright protection on the reproduction and performance of music was an enormous stimulus to the urban music market, affecting the large numbers of writers, performers and publishers based in London. In Britain, the Copyright Act of 1842 allowed the author to sell copyright and performing right together or separately. The star system developed alongside the London music hall: Marie Lloyd, George Leybourne, the Great MacDermott, Albert Chevalier and Gus Elen were among the most admired. In the final stages of professionalization in the music hall mergers and the formation of chains of halls worked to remove those aspects of music hall culturally linked to particular cities (like London, Newcastle and Glasgow) and replace them with a national model.
Ticket prices were used to produce a class hierarchy of concerts. Pricing policy ensured a sociady-exclusive audience at London's Royal Philharmonic Society concerts. Even after the Society moved from the Hanover Square Rooms to the large St James's Hall in 1869, the cheapest unreserved seats were 5s and 2s 6d.6 The New Philharmonic Society, founded in 1852, was in the hands of wealthy music lovers and, when it moved from Exeter Hall to Hanover Square in 1856, the price of seats rose and a 'more exclusive audience' was obtained.7 On the other hand, concerts such as those begun on Saturdays by August Mann in the Crystal Palace in 1855 necessitated popular programming and a small admission charge in order to fill the enormous hall. Thus a type of programming was developed in the big city that differed from what was found in the village halls and small town assembly rooms.
By 1865, London's concert life was entirely professional, 'amateurs no longer playing along, still less pretending to “direct" the proceedings' (Ehrlich 60). The aristocracy began to find themselves unable to afford the high fees of international stars for their private concerts and, consequently, their salons were on the wane during the second half of the century From the 1830s on, the middle-class audience had grown and so had middle-class domestic music-making. Taken together with the professionalization of music performance, the result was that amateur music-making lost the status it had enjoyed formerly when dominated by the aristocracy. Moreover, ensembles that were previously often associated with amateurs, like the string quartet, tended now to be left to professionals, as a result of the piano having assumed such a dominant role in drawingroom music. The conflict between the materialistic consumerism and spiritual yearnings of the bourgeoisie are neatly illustrated by the domestic piano: in Richard Leppert's words, 'Its physical presence commonly fetishized materiality. . . and, at the same time, the music to be played on the instrument was valorized precisely because of its immateriality'.9 Pianos 'for the million' were being advertised at 10 guineas in 1884,10 and hire purchase was introduced in London and New York to help people buy pianos. British piano-making was concentrated in London, from where instruments weie transported to otlier parts of the country by rail. Along with the influx of pianos into working-class homes in the late nine teen til century came the sixpenny lesson.11
Another feature of the commercialization of music, its commodification, was most evident in the British sheet music trade, aLso concentrated in London. Novello's successive reductions in the price of music meant that the amount of hand-copying was reduced. Cheap music was also to be had from Davidson, Hop wood and Crew, and Charles Sheard (the Musical Bouquet series).12 The halfpenny broadside ballad (usuady topical and frequently about a condemned murderer) and the street ballad singer began to fall into decline in the late 1850s; yet ballad publishing had once been a lucrative business, especially for James Catnach and his press at Seven Dials.13 When his sister took over after his deadi in 1841, she advertised that 'upwards of 4,000 different sorts of ballads are continually on sale with 40 new penny song books'14 A broadside ballad relied not on sheet music but on common knowledge of a tune (it was indicated only by name).
The rift between art and entertainment
y the second half of the century a distinction had arisen between 'art music' and 'popular music', even if not expressed exactly in those terms. It may be seen as evidence for Pierre Bourdieu's argument that social groups need to achieve distinction for themselves in matters of taste, so that their social and aesthetic superiority is conjoined.15 The increase in urban populations and rise of the bourgeoisie brought a need for public demonstrations of social standing, since it was no longer common knowledge who was important Attending concerts was, among other tilings, a means of displaying status (See Weber 25-26). Popular forms with a working-class base often offer participation (for example, the music hall song's chorus), whereas higher forms are more likely to be objects of aesthetic contemplation.
In 1860, a writer in Macmillan's Magazine identifies a 'higher class of music', referring to music of the Austro-German tradition, at that time beginning to be labelled 'classical music'. This is not of a kind associated with female accomplishments; it Is a serious 'man's music', in Lawrence Levine's terminology a 'sacralized' music.17 The writer mentions an old friend, much addicted to quartet playing, who 'would as soon have thought of sawing his beloved 'Stead" up for firewood as of admitting his wife into the music-room during the celebration of the mysteries'.18 The writer does, however, beg 'young ladies' to educate the ears of their fa tilers and brothers by playing a little bit of Beethoven or Haydn occasionally. Simultaneously, composers found that they were being held to task by high-minded critics for producing low (that is, entertaining) music. The London weekly Figaro, commenting on the first night of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer (1877), expressed its 'disappointment at the downward art course that Sullivan appears to be drifting into'.19 Another review, in The World remarked: 'It was hoped that he would soar with Mendelssohn, whereas lie is, it seems, content to sink with Offenbach'.20
In the first half of the century, popular music had been acceptable in the 'best of homes', but from now on the message of 'high art' was that the re was a 'better class of music' and another kind (soon to be seen as degenerate) that appealed to 'the masses'. Taken together with the increasing 'sacralization' of culture, it meant that the value of bourgeois female 'accomplishments' was to be reassessed, and that the once praised working-class 'rational recreations', such as Tonic Sol-fa choral singing, and playing in brass and military bands, were to seem insufficiently dedicated to the shrine of art.
New markets for cultural goods
he ideal for London's social reformers was a single, shared culture, bringing together the city's different classes and ethnic groups; but the reality was that the economics of cultural provision in the capital necessitated focusing on particular consumers. Old markets had to be developed, new ones created and, where necessary, demand stimulated. The diverse markets for cultural goods, where different social groups partook of their pleasures, were noted in London at mid-century: 'The gay have their theatres - the philanthropic their Exeter Hall — the wealdiy their "ancient concerts" — the costermongers what they term their sing-song'.sup>21 Cultural value fluctuates with the social status of the consumer, and dial consumer's power to define legitimate taste. Cultural competences have a social 'market price' (they possess value), which is why Bourdieu speaks of cultural capital. The working class serve as a 'negative reference point' for bourgeois efforts to acquire cultural distinction (57). What for a working-class audience might be down-to-earth, plain-speaking and funny, for the bourgeois audience might appear as rude, vulgar and silly. It is not only the different classes, but also the differing fractions within a class that possess a characteristic 'system of dispositions' that Bourdieu terms a 'habitus' (6). A cultural struggle occurs when the values of a current market are upset by the formation of a new market that prices those values differently. The existence of competing markets in cultural goods is shown in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience (1881), where Bunthome the fleshly poet and Grosvenor the idyllic poet compete for aesthetic status and vie for attention in a village full of eager, female consumers of poetry. Significantly, Bunthome explains away the interest in his rival as 'insipidity' - a lapse of taste. Moreover, he uses marketing language, claiming that since Grosvenor's arrival 'insipidity has been at a premium'.
Aristocratic taste in the eighteenth century was for ceremony and fbmiaiity; the bourgeoisie reacted against that by prizing individual character and feelings.sup>24 The fondness of the bourgeoisie for virtuosi, suggests Leonard Meyer, was because 'paradoxically, the concept of genius is .. . egalitarian. For though geniuses are endowed with extraordinary powers and special sensibilities, these gifts are understood to be innate rather than dependent on lineage or learning'.sup>25 Music was preferred that did not rely on previous artistic knowledge, and was valued as 'natural'. The subject of love was favoured because it cut across class. As Sir Joseph Porter remarks in H.MS. Pinafore, 'love is a platform upon which all ranks meet'. The values of originality and individuality relate to bourgeois ideology, being the virtues prized by leaders of industry.26
New markets developed for cultural goods, but certain classes and class fractions could only acquire them if that market was socially suitable. A member of the 'respectable' middle class may have wished to hear George Leyboume (Figure 1), but may have only felt able to attend his performance if lie appeared at St James's Hall rather than a music hall. By the end of the century, however, some of the music hall stars had, to use today's terminology, successfully 'crossed over' and won admirers in all classes, thus contributing to the growing 'respectability' of the halls.
In the first half of the century in particular, it should be borne in mind that 'popular' did not necessarily mean 'low status': some of the virtuoso display pieces heard in salons were popular in style but of high status at that time. Promenade concerts had a petit bourgeois character, catering to a taste developed in cafes, taverns, parks and pleasure gardens. The pleasure gardens offer an example of the impact that a seasonal change in the class character of the city's population had upon culture, since they were busiest in summer when the aristocracy were not in town. The music in pleasure gardens thus catered for those who lived in London and who were able to afford the one shilling admission fee.
Songs for the drawing-room market could be heard publicly at assembly rooms, diurdi halls and, later, ballad concerts run by the publisher Boosey. The drawing-room ballad was the stimulus behind the first flowering of the commercial popular music industry in Britain and North America, which was evident in the production, promotion and marketing of the sheet music to these songs and the pianos to accompany them. It should be noted how this type of urban commercial popular song differed from the popular traditional songs of the countryside. The crucial factor was the piano accompaniment both because it was an essential rather than optional harmonic support to most of these songs, and because a piano was not a portable instrument that could be taken to the village green (unlike, say, a concertina). Indeed, in London, the middle classes were united in their loatiling of those who had found a means of transporting 'street pianos' (often termed 'barrel organs') into their neighbourhoods. The attempts that were made to outlaw the 'playing' of these instruments relate to the same issues of noise and execrable musicianship that are raised by Emily Cockayne in this issue.
The success of Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial by Jury (first performed on the same bill as Offenbach's La Perichole in 1875) showed the possibility of a market for English operetta. Gilbert and Sullivan were frequendy indebted to Offenbach, whose operettas were popular in London. The key to Gilbert's humour was the serious treatment of the absurd, showing the influence of burlesque, which in London occupied a middle ground between music hall and opera. Musical comedy grew out of burlesque in the 1890s; the new mixture travelled well, and Jones's The Geisha (1896) outstripped even the success of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado.27Certain varieties of popular entertainment that developed in the nineteenth century did win a cross-class appeal. Blackface minstrelsy conquered the middle class with greater ease than the music hall (See Scott 87.) It began when New York entertainer Thomas Rice copied a disabled African-American slave's 'Jim Crow' dance routine in 1832.29 The first troupe, the Virginia Minstrels (fiddle, banjo, tambourine and bone castanets) formed in New York in 1842, calling themselves minstrels after the recent success enjoyed by the Tyrolese Minstrel Family Rice visited London in 1836, the Virginia Minstrels in 1843, and troupes soon formed in England, often known as Christy minstrels after E.R Christy's minstrels. Blackface minstrels inscribed racism, but subverted bourgeois values by celebrating idleness and mischief rather than work and responsible behaviour, their blackface mask allowing an inversion of dominant values.30 They had a broad appeal, however, and in London the Moore and Burgess Minstrels were in permanent residency at the smaller St James's Hall. The enormous cross-class popularity of the minstrel songs of Stephen Foster (his first success, 'Oh! Susanna!' dates from 1848) meant that, from that time on, there existed a style that was recognizably American to London audiences.
The diaries of Charles Rice, a comic singer who sang in London taverns during the 1840s, throw interesting light on the years leading up to music hall.31 The tavern concert room, with its lower middle-class patrons and professional or semi-professional entertainment, has a more direct link to the music hall than do the song and supper rooms around Covent Garden and the Strand, which were frequented by the aristocracy and wealthy middle class. West End halls, like the Oxford, were the only music halls to attract patrons of a higher class status; suburban halls relied on patronage from the working class and lower middle class (tradesmen, shopkeepers, mechanics and clerks). Charles Morton had difficulty trying to encourage the middle class to attend his grand hall, the Canterbury, a major obstacle being that it was located in Lambeth.32 Dave Russell has commented on the regular, though not entirely trustworthy, claims of middle-class attendance made by music hall journals in the 1880s.33 In the 1890s, middle-class attitudes became more favourable to music hall, swayed by the 'new character of the entertainment' (Höher 86), in a word, the respectability striven for by managers (including their moves to encourage the attendance of married women).
Music, morals and social order
Nineteenth-century bourgeois values were several, as were their ideological functions (thrift set against extravagance, self-help vs. dependence, hard work vs. idleness) but where art and entertainment were concerned, the key value in asserting moral leadership was respectability. It was something within the grasp of all, unlike the aristocratic values of lineage and 'good breeding'. Respectability allowed the bourgeoisie to take a moral stand against certain aspects of working-class behaviour, especially drink and immorality. The fight for respectability was one that religious organizations were eager to support. Nonconformism was a major force behind English choral music in the nineteenth century (see Raynor 93). Methodists, for example, had introduced congregational singing in the previous century, and a desire to encourage education and 'improvement' made them strongly committed to sacred choral music. London's Sacred Harmonic Society, founded in 1832, began as a nonconformist organization. Of its 73 members in 1834, 36 were artisans and 27 shopkeepers, figures which reveal that it was dominated by the lower middle class (See Weber 167, table 21)
The rational and the recreational were linked together in the sightsinging movement, even if the singing was not from conventional musical notation. Joseph Mainzer, John Hullali and, last on the scene, John Cun veil each offered competing methods to the singing classes, the latter promoting the Tonic Sol-fa method devised by Sarah Glover, a teacher in Norwich. The London publishing house Novello, set up in 1811, took over the publication of Mainzer's Musical Times in 1844, by which time the firm specialized in producing cheap musical editions, especially of oratorios, the genre that dominated the choral scene. The lionized composer was Handel, and enormous triennial Handel Festivals, involving up to 2,000 performers alone, took place from 1857 in a huge concert hall created inside the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, south-east London (where it had been reconstructed the year after the 1851 Great Exhibition).
The conviction behind Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy (1869) is that culture is needed to save society from anarchy. Culture for Arnold is not a broad term: he wastes no time on the music hall. The working class was thought to need 'rational amusement' such as choirs.37 It was not a cynical exercise in control: in their own lives the middle class were committed to self-improvement by going to concerts, buying sheet music and performing it at home. From the 1830s on, pianos were a proud feature of middle-class homes, and girls were expected to learn to play them.38 A belief in the moral power of music was an all-pervasive ideology: 'Let no one', admonished the great champion of the improving powers of music, the Reverend H.R. Haweis, 'say the moral effects of music are small or insignificant'.39 It was the activities that accompanied music, for example the close proximity of couples dancing the waltz, that raised suspicion of the unwholesome, not the music itself.
For the middle class, culture was in itself instructive but first required that people be instructed in it; hence the didactic character of attempts to encourage working-class 'appreciation' of music. The People's Concert Society, founded in 1878, was an amateur organization dedicated to making high-status music known among the London poor. The Society began Sunday concerts of chamber music in South Place, Moorgate, in 1887. From the succeeding year, admission was free, or a voluntary contribution could be made, and attendance was good.40 Persuasion was used, but no coercion was needed to interest the working class in music; the all-pervasive ideology of respectability and improvement meant that music, instrumental as wed as vocal, could be found even on the timetable at Mechanics' Institutes, especially after 1830.41
The British Brass Band Movement, in the second half of the century, was another example of 'rational recreation', hence the willingness of factory owners to sponsor works bands. These bands had their roots in the industrial North, but the steel, ironworks and shipping companies of East London also had bands in the 1860s. Some of the difficulties and distractions facing London bands compared to bands further north have been discussed by Dave Russell (210-11). Huge annual contests were held at the Crystal Palace during 1860-63. The first of these, a two-day event with entrance prices of 2s 6d for the first and Is for the second day, attracted an audience of 29,000.43 The test pieces for the contests at the Crystal Palace placed an emphasis on high-status music: selections from Meyerbeer's grand operas were the favourite choices, as at the Belle Vue contests in Manchester that same decade.
In the 1850s, the sale of refreshments was permitted on Sundays in certain London parks to coincide with military band performances. It met with strong opposition from those who wished to guard Sunday's importance as a religious day and who feared, also, that the excitement of listening to band music would trigger civil disturbance (see Mackemess 185-86). On the other hand, the right kind of music, in the right surroundings, was thought to act as 'a civilising influence to which the lower classes were particularly responsive45 It was meaningless, of course, if the entertainment was respectable but the venue not. Concern about prostitution in theatres and music halls grew in the second half of the century.46 Alcohol consumption was another threat to morals and respectability, and music was used as a medium of persuasion by fractional interests within the bourgeoisie, such as the London temperance groups that promoted songs portraying the destructive effects of drunkenness on the home and family (Scott 189).
The labouring poor may have been sung about and even felt to be understood in certain socially-concerned drawing-room ballads, but their lives often lay outside the experience of those who sang the ballads. Antoinette Sterling, who so movingly sang 'Three Fishers Went Sailing' (a setting of Charles Kingsley's verse by John Huliah in 1857), confessed that not only had she no experience of storms at sea, but 'had never even seen fishermen'46 Actual acquaintance with fishermen was undoubtedly unnecessary, since the subject position such ballads addressed was that of the urban middle class. So, too, did the Savoy operas, which had their roots in the wholesome entertainments given by Mr and Mrs German Reed at their 'Gallery of Illustration' in Lower Regent Street. Middle-class prejudices are aired, though nearly always in an ironic way as, for example, in Ko-Ko's Ust of 'society offenders' in The Mikado. Egalitarianism is satirized in The Gondoliers (1889), summed up in the lines: 'When every one is somebodee. Then no one's anybody'. The Gondoliers appeared at a time of anti-monarchist sentiment, and the growth of socialist and republican ideas.
The subject position addressed in music hall entertainment Is that of London's up per-working-class or lower-middle-class male. Peter Bailey has described the sensibilities of the music hall as 'more petty bourgeois than proletarian' (Bailey xviii). The performers themselves were of a mixed class background: of the lions comiques in London, for example, George Leybourne had been a mechanic and the Great MacDermott (G.H. Farrell) a bricklayer, but the Great Vance (Alfred Stephens) was formerly a solicitor's clerk. The toff or 'swell' character of the 1860s appealed to socially-aspiring lower-middle-class males in the audience. Leybourne, the most acclaimed of the swells, was given a contract in 1868, at the height of his success with the song 'Champagne Charlie', which made it a condition that he continued his swell persona both on and off stage.50 Bailey has discussed the presence of 'would-be swells' among the lower middle class from the 1830s to the 1860s, showing that there was 'interesting cultural stock to exploit and play off' (55). The swell, however, is doubly coded: he might inscribe admiration for wealth and status, but he subverts bourgeois values in celebrating excess and idleness ('A noise all night, in bed all day and swimming in Champagne', as Charlie puts it).
Another appealing fantasy was the 'bulldog spirit' found in Mac-Dermott's 'War Song' of 1877 (when the Russo-Turkish war threatened British interests in the East). The chorus 'We don't want to fight, but by jingo if we do' coined a new word for aggressive nationalism. The editor of the Musical Times commented, 'it is surprising how diose people will shout for war who have no intention of fighting themselves'.52 It illustrates that the relationship of song to society is not one of direct reflection. Another, more striking, example is the morbid but popular minstrel song 'The Empty Cradle' (Harry Kennedy, 1880) which went quickly out of favour when infant mortality rose.53
London's socially-mixed music halls were in the centre, and the working-class halls in the suburbs. The halls were diligently policed, exemplifying Gramsci's contention that if hegemony fails coercion is ready to take its place.54 The music hall audience of whatever mix, however, defended its values and behaviour when the law was used in a repressive manner, turning up in large numbers at the halls, at law courts and licensing sessions, and writing letters and petitions (Kift 183). Censorship was a blunt weapon when deployed against some performers. There is no doubt, for example, that it was the way Marie Lloyd performed that had such an impact on her audience - the lack of corporeal discipline seen in the gestures, winks and knowing smiles that she used to lend suggestiveness to apparently 'innocent' music hall songs, like 'What's That For, Eli?' (Lytton/Le Brunn, 1892).
London's urban ballads were another repository of oppositional elements. 'The New Poor Law', a song about the workhouse that followed that law's passing in 1834 chooses, ironically, the tune of 'Home, Sweet, Home!'56 In another of these ballads, 'Married at Last' (1840), Queen Victoria is represented as having very 'un-Victorian' sexual interests (120-21). These urban ballads, however, were not for a community market; because of London's size and the desire to sell widely there was no personalizing of events as in, for example, the songs written by Tommy Armstrong for his Durham coal-mining community When Armstrong sang 'The Trimdon Grange Explosion' in the local Mechanics' Hall in 1882, he could refer to Mrs Burnett and her dead sons Joseph, George and James, as characters his listeners actually knew.58 The ballad presses survived longer than is commonly assumed; indeed, there were still four in operation in London in the 1870s, though the market was certainly declining by then." Urban ballads relied on existing well-known tunes: the striking women of 1888 from Bryant and May's match factory sang a parody of 'John Brown's Body' on their marches through the West End.60 The next year, during the London dock strike, Jim Connell wrote 'The Red Flag' (originally to the Scottish tune 'The White Cockade').
Arnold's polarization of culture and anarchy indicates the important role culture (that is, high culture) was thought to play as an instrument of social order in the nineteenth century. High culture demands discipline, while the low can provoke indiscipline and disorder. Where low entertainment is concerned, an audience may shout, stamp, applaud or hiss at will, but a strict reception code operates for high art: you do not talk; you do not turn up late; you do not hum along; you do not eat, etc.61 John Kassan, in a study of manners in nineteenth-century America, speaks of 'disciplined spectatorship' as the required code of behaviour following the decline of communal working-class pursuits62 Disciplined spectatorship was certainly not to be found, for instance, in London's 'Penny Gaffs', which were often shops turned into temporary theatres holding around 200 for singing and dancing. At one penny admission they were cheaper than the threepence needed for a gallery seat at the music hall. Mayhew describes with disgust the entertainment on offer and the behaviour of the audience in a gaff he visited.63However, though it proved difficult to impose social order in the gaffs, attempts were made to control the audience's behaviour in music halls.64 The net result of the campaigns of 'moral guardians' and of social theorists like Arnold was that it became received wisdom at the end of the nineteenth century for high-minded critics to relate rowdy behaviour to there being one kind of culture that was elevating and another, a culture of the masses, that was degrading.
Since this article is part of a special edition of this journal, I will add a few words in closing about the changing relationship of musicology to urban history. In the past two decades many musicologists, myself included, grew increasingly concerned by the neglect of the social significance of music: for example, the role of social factors in affecting our response to music, and of cultural context in determining the legitimacy of performance styles. Consequently, my writing is informed by arguments that musical practices, values and meanings relate to particular historical and political contexts. My efforts may be seen as a contribution to a new theoretical model for musicology that is ready to engage with, rather dian marginalize, questions of cultural space and place.
Last modified 28 February 2017