I have added this chapter to those in my original book in order to provide a broad survey of music and class in London that makes use of a variety of sources not hitherto cited, and reaps the benefit of work published by scholars in the past ten years. While making this survey, I will be rehearsing some of the arguments found earlier in the book, and the reader will be directed to appropriate page extents in square brackets when such is the case.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, features of musical life associated with a capitalist economy and the consolidation of power of a wealthy industrial bourgeoisie became firmly established. Prominent among such features were the commercialization and professionalization of music, new markets for cultural goods, the bourgeoisie's struggle for cultural domination and a growing rift between art and entertainment.

William 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. Richard Leppert relates the 'implicit social antagonism in the ideological foundation of much nineteenth-century aesthetics' to the increased dependence of artists on the cultural market created by capitalism.3 Leonard Meyer has commented, 'even as they scorned and mocked the middle class, the artists of the nineteenth century created for it.'4 Composers were beginning to depend for their livelihood on the wealthy 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 well as performing and composing. Chopin drew the major part of his income from giving piano lessons, not piano recitals. Also, some musicians played low-status music because they could not find employment playing high-status music. Publishers sponsored in areas of their commercial interest: Novello supported oratorio concerts; Boosey ran ballad concerts; Chappell was involved in the founding of St James's Hall and promoted [207/208] the firm's music at the Monday and Saturday 'Pops'. New halls were also opened by piano firms: New York's most famous piano maker Steinway (founded 1853) opened a hall in 1878 (capacity 400) adjoining their London branch.

In tandem with the growth 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 song described as a 'favourite air' suggested one widely liked; the words 'sung with tumultuous applause by' indicated a song adopted by a star singer whose choice had been endorsed by an admiring audience; the boast '20,000 copies sold' implied that there could be no better recommendation than that so many people had bought the song. The last type of claim became the key marker of the popular song. Indeed, when the popular charts began in the twentieth century, they were sales charts (first for sheet music, then for records); a popular song was by definition a big seller. A related development was the reluctance to accept as a folksong 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.5 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.6 [See pp. 176—77.] The concept of a national music brought with it the notion that one had to belong to a nation to understand its music: for example, Wagner began to wonder if the French could really appreciate Beethoven, even though, as Henry Raynor comments, he himself wrote uncomprehendingly of Haydn's symphonies.7

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.8 The enforcement of copyright protection on the reproduction and performance of music was an enormous stimulus to the music market, affecting writers, performers and publishers. In Britain, the Copyright Act of 1842 allowed the author to sell copyright and performing right together or separately. Popular performers could now become very wealthy and those who offered a 'rags to riches' story were 'a formidable instrument of social order, of hope and submission simultaneously'.9 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. Richard Middleton comments that Marie Lloyd's appeal and relationship with her 'gallery boys' was 'built on an acceptance of secure class definitions and an awareness of common life styles'.10 In the final stages of professionalization in the music hall, however, the takeovers and the formation of chains of halls worked to remove the last vestiges of the community-based aspects of music hall and replace it with a national model. All the same, as long as the audience participated in the refrain of a song, professionalization was not total. It should not be thought, by the way, that music hall alone had a star system: there were also glamorous female stars of operetta, such as Emily Soldene, and visiting stars from abroad, like Hortense Schneider.

Ticket prices were used to produce a class hierarchy of concerts. Pricing policy [208/209] ensured a socially-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 (Raynor 102). The New Philharmonic Society, founded 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.12 [See p. 121.] Cheap concerts were plentiful in the 1850s. The Saturday Concerts begun by August Manns in the Crystal Palace in 1855 necessitated popular programming and a small admission charge in order to fill the enormous hall. When the large St James's Hall opened in 1858, programmes of accessible music were put together to attract audiences and, as at Manns' concerts, programme notes were used to build appreciation of classical music. The Saturday 'Pops' at St James's Hall tended to contain short instrumental items interspersed with songs performed by celebrated singers.

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 drawing-room 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' (Leppert 155). Pianos 'for the million' were being advertised at 10 guineas in 1884,15 and hire purchase was introduced in London and New York to help people buy pianos. The piano's value as part of interior design was not missed: its helpfulness in creating 'a delightful tea corner' in a room is decribed in the Musical Times in 1893 (Scholes 1: 305). Along with the influx of pianos into working-class homes in the late nineteenth century came the six-penny lesson. (For various advertisements for pianos in the 1880s and 1890s, see Scholes, 2: 726-27.)

Another feature of the commercialization of music, its commodification, was most evident in the sheet music trade. 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, Hopwood and Crew, and Charles Sheard (the Musical Bouquet series). [See pp. 123-24.] The halfpenny broadside ballad (usually 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 Sons at Seven Dials.18 When his sister took over after his death in 1841, she advertised that 'upwards of 4,000 different sorts of ballads are continually on sale with 40 new penny song books'.19 A broadside ballad relied not on sheet music but on common knowledge [209/210] of a tune {it was indicated only by name). By 1880 music-hall songs had supplanted broadsides as the popular music of the working class.20

The status of popular music changed with the development of the music market. There were two stages: when commercialization was in its early stages, the popular was vulgar only if it was deemed to be pandering to low taste; but, as the music industry grew, the greater the success music achieved in the market place, the more it was likely to be perceived as low. Then, all music written for sale came to be regarded as inferior. However, anything not seen to originate as 'music for sale' would not be considered low, whatever sales figures it attained. Thus, the vocal score of Messiah, the song-sheet of 'The British Grenadiers', and the collection Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861) all sold in huge numbers but were popular without being condemned as low.

By the second half of the century, a distinction had arisen between 'art music' and 'popular music', even if not expressed exactly in those terms. This 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. Culture can be used as a marker of superiority, a taste for the 'refined' over the 'vulgar', which is why Bourdieu remarks that 'art and cultural consumption are predisposed, consciously and deliberately or not, to fulfil a social function of legitimating social differences'.21 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 things, a means of displaying status.22

In the familiar 'three zones of taste' model (highbrow, middlebrow and lowbrow), middlebrow taste is perhaps the most despised category, since it appeals to neither elitism nor proletarianism, and often means the taste for the 'easy' or 'simplified' version of a 'high' genre —the preference for the drawing-room ballad over the Lied, or for operetta rather than opera. It is summed up in the overarching yet still diminutive categories of'light music', or Trivialmusik, or what contemporary record stores call 'easy listening'. The terms 'highbrow', first used in the 1880s, and 'lowbrow', which emerged in the 1900s, relate to the pseudo-science of phrenology: the high brow was interpreted as a sign of intelligence, especially since it was a feature of the 'civilized' European races.23 Bourdieu relates the idea of 'pure taste' to a disgust for the facile: "the whole language of aesthetics is contained in a fundamental refusal of the facile' (486). He ascribes an 'aesthetic disposition' —'a generalized capacity to neutralize ordinary urgencies and to bracket off practical ends' —to certain class fractions only, arguing that it 'can only be constituted within an experience of the world freed from urgency and through the practice of activities which are an end in themselves, such as scholastic exercises or the contemplation of works of art' (54).

Carl Dahlhaus has argued that nineteenth-century popular music (that of the dance halls, promenade concerts, salons and varietes) is lowbrow, and better described as 'trivial music': 'Eighteenth-century divertimentos were also designed to entertain, but no one would wish to place them alongside a nineteenth-century Viennese coffeehouse pièce'26 He seeks to make a qualitative distinction between eighteenth- and nineteenth-century musical entertainment, but finds the cause of [210/211] this decline in quality in what he regards as a betrayal of eighteenth-century philanthropy by nineteenth-century capitalists: the fault for the trivialization of those earlier 'philanthropic tendencies' lies with industrialization and the 'compulsion to mass-produce and distribute commodities' (314). For Dahlhaus, unsurprisingly, the issue boils down to that far from innocent notion, taste: in a nutshell, 'Triviality offends against taste' (317). He suggests that 'trivial' music is like a fashionable commodity which, as soon as it ages, is recognized as trivial and is rejected; yet, the longevity of some nineteenth-century popular songs, for example, 'Home, Sweet Home!' of 1823, goes unexplained.

Popular forms with a working-class base are more likely to offer participation (for example, the music-hall song's chorus); higher forms are more likely to be objects of aesthetic contemplation. The greater the stress on the aesthetic object, such as the priority of form over function, the more likely it is to cause confusion or attract ridicule. In Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore (1887), we are told the villagers are odd because they go around singing in four-part harmony.

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.29 The writer mentions an old friend, much addicted to quartet playing, who 'would as soon have thought of sawing his beloved "Strad" up for firewood as of admitting his wife into the music-room during the celebration of the mysteries'.30 The writer does, however, beg 'young ladies' to educate the ears of their fathers and brothers by playing a little bit of Beethoven or Haydn occasionally. This was a time when critical admiration began to grow for music that was 'challenging', 'difficult', 'individual', or 'pushing the boundaries'. High-status music began to distance itself from entertainment; in Bruckner and late Wagner it became akin to religious experience.

Simultaneously, composers found 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'.31 Another review, in The World remarked: 'It was hoped that he would soar with Mendelssohn, whereas he is, it seems, content to sink with offenbach.'32 These were criticisms Sullivan was to encounter often. According to Jacobs's Arthur Sullivan, the general view of the press after the first night of HMS Pinafore (1878) was that it was undistinguished, disappointing and feeble, despite its success with the audience (119).

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 there was a 'better class of music' and another kind (soon to be seen as degenerate) that appealed to 'the masses' (some of whom were soon to be seen as degenerate, too). 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.

The ideal for social reformers was a single, shared culture, bringing together [211/212] different classes and ethnic groups; but the reality was that the economics of cultural provision in the second half of the century 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 wealthy their "ancient concerts" — the costermongers what they term their sing-song.'34 Cultural value fluctuates with the social status of the consumer, and the power of that consumer to define legitimate taste. The respect shown for legitimate culture varies according to a range of factors besides what Bourdieu calls an individual's 'cultural capital', the cultural competence acquired by 'early, imperceptible learning, performed within the family' (66) and extended by schooling. Such factors, he explains, include age, social mobility and aspirations, and place of residence. 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. Perhaps this is why inversion is common in popular form: for example, lust not love, crudity not politeness, degradation not sublimity, materiality not spirituality. However, 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 Bunthorne 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. And how does the 'highly-spiced' Bunthorne explain the avid interest in the 'mildness' of his rival? In one significant word, 'insipidity' — it is a lapse of taste. A little later, he even uses the language of the market, claiming that, since Grosvenor's arrival, 'insipidity has been at a premium'.

Aristocratic taste in the eighteenth century was for ceremony and formality; the bourgeoisie reacted against that by prizing individual character and feelings.38 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.'39 Music was preferred that did not rely on previous informed knowledge, and was valued as 'natural'. The dislike for rules and conventions linked to a new trust in the spontaneous verdict of the people is found in Die Meisterswger von Nurnberg (1867) when Hans Sachs claims that if a musician follows nature's path, it will be obvious to those who 'know nothing of the tablature'.40 The subject of love was favoured because it cut across class. As Sir Joseph Porter remarks in HMS 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'.41

New markets developed for cultural goods, but certain classes and class fractions [212/213] could only acquire them if that market was socially suitable. A member of the landed gentry, for example, might balk at attending a concert in a middle-class drawing room. A member of the 'respectable' middle class may have wished to hear George Leyboume, but may have only felt able to attend his performance if he 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.

Raymond Williams commended music hall for presenting areas of experience that other genres neglected or despised.42 The popular style of music developed its own novel musical features. Hubert Parry cites as a conspicuous feature of 'second-rate music', providing examples from 'low-class tunes' (note how these two descriptions are conflated), 'an insistence on the independence of the "leading note" from the note to which it has been supposed to lead'.43 The tendency for the leading note to fall on to the sixth degree of the scale is part of that note's having attained a new importance. As early as the 'Blue Danube' (1867) it is being added to the tonic chord without resolution as a melody note. An example from Gilbert and Sullivan is Ko-Ko's Taken from the County Jail' in Act 1 of The Mikado (1885).

The importance of the sixth degree of the scale to the popular style also makes itself felt in the fondness for dominant ninths, since this is the harmony that results when it is added to the dominant seventh (the 'Blue Danube' again furnishes an example). The leading-note that falls in a sub-dominant context (the wienerische Note) also appears in Sullivan's music. See the example below from Trial by Jury (1875).

It was not long before the seventh degree of the scale began to bid for independence, too. Peter Van der Merwe states that from about mid-century composers [213/214] 'became aware that there were certain features that stamped popular music, and either cultivated these if they were writing for the general public, or avoided them if they were writing for the elect' (242). It could be argued that this is a highbrow-lowbrow distinction that does not necessarily map directly onto a 'general public versus the elect' distinction: some members of the social elect, as well as some members of the general public, enjoyed Gilbert and Sullivan, whereas some members of the musical elect did not. Nevertheless, it offers, as Van der Merwe suggests, an explanation for the difference between waltzes by Strauss II and Brahms.

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 latter busiest in summer when the aristocracy were not in town). [See pp. 41-42 and p. 184.] These concerts typically mixed popular and classical items. There was usually a large space in front of the orchestra for standing still or walking around, and drinks could be purchased during the performance. The upper middle class went only to the most prestigious of promenade concerts, such as those involving Louis Jullien.

Songs for the drawing-room market could be heard at assembly rooms, church 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. This was evident, as I commented in my Introduction, in the production, promotion, and marketing of the sheet music to these songs and the pianos to accompany them. Charles Hamm suggests the influence of Henry Russell on American popular music was considerable. Having left England for a North American tour, Russell, one of the first of many celebrated Jewish popular songwriters, was enjoying much success with his ballad entertainments in New York in 1836. It was due not just to the style of his songs, Hamm maintains, 'but his philosophy of what a popular song could and should be. His songs and his delivery of them were intended to be appealing to persons of varying and even non-existent musical backgrounds.'45 George Pope Morris, editor of the New York Mirror, wrote the words for 'Woodman, Spare That Tree' (1837), Russell's first hit. [See pp. 39-40 and p. 109.] The drawing room thrived on such material, but was more selective when it came to opera. The previous year The World of Fashion complained of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots, 'in the drawing room it is dull and profitless'.46 It was another matter with English operas: some of them seem designed as 'song-plugging' events for the drawing-room market aided by elaborate costumes and theatrical plots.

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 are frequently indebted to Offenbach, as, for example, when a chorus affirms the words of a soloist to humorous effect. Compare the Pirate King's song from The Pirates of Penzance (1879). with the echoing refrain given below from Madame Favart, a tremendous success at the Strand that year:47 [214/215]

For I am a Pirate King! 'My first, he was a rustic lad,
And it is, it is a glorious thing I lov'd him all the spring:
To be a Pirate King! (I am an artless thing)
For I am a Pirate King! [Chorus:] 'She is an artless thing'.
[Chorus:] You are! Hurrah for the Pirate King!

Again in The Pirates, the noisy arrival of a chorus who are meant to be creeping on stage is indebted to Les Brigands (1869). Perhaps a bigger influence, however, where plot and characters were concerned, was extravaganza and burlesque: Pooh-Bah, for example, clearly owes something to the 'Great-Grand-Lord-Everything' of Planche's Sleeping Beauty (1840). Musically, Sullivan was adept at deploying a range of national styles, including that of English folksong (for example, 'I Have a Song To Sing, 0!' in The Yeomen of the Guard, 1888). Typical of operetta is the use of musical irony, which often works as an appropriation of a style: for example, the satirical text of 'When Britain Really Ruled the Waves' (from Iolanthe, 1882) is strengthened by Sullivan's use of a style associated with anthems and patriotic music. Alternatively, a style may be chosen that contradicts or mocks the text, in which case the music becomes the vehicle for satire: for example, Major-General Stanley's egotistical boasting in The Pirates ('I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General') is deflated by being conveyed through a comic patter-song idiom.

The key to Gilbert's humour was the serious treatment of the absurd, showing the influence of burlesque; his first stage success had, in fact, been with a burlesque of Roberto il diavolo. Burlesque in London occupied a middle ground between music hall and opera, including the music of both in its parodies. The Gaiety Theatre, built in the late 1860s, became the home of burlesque, and in the 1880s began to include much more original music. 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.48

Certain varieties of popular entertainment that developed in the nineteenth century eventually, if not immediately, won cross-class appeal. Blackface minstrelsy conquered the middle class with greater ease than the music hall. [See p. 87.] Charles Hamm remarks that the minstrel song 'emerged as the first distinctly American genre.'49 It began when New Yorker Thomas Rice copied a disabled African-American slave's 'Jim Crow' dance routine, and introduced it into his act at the Bowery Theatre, 12 November 1832.50 The first troupe, the Virginia Minstrels [see p. 82] called 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. P. 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.51 They had a broad appeal, however, and London had a blackface troupe, the Moore and Burgess Minstrels, in permanent residency at the smaller St James's Hall. The enormous cross-class popularity of the songs of Stephen Foster (1826—64) [see p. 86] meant that, from that time on, there existed a style that was recognizably American to British audiences. His first big success, 'Oh! Susanna' dates from 1848. 'Massa's in de Cold Ground' (1852) and 'My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night' [215/216] (1853) were both labelled 'plantation melodies', though the words of one are in 'minstrel dialect', while those of the other are not. Foster's talent was not restricted to minstrel songs, as 'Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair' (1854) confirms.

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.52 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 higher class status; suburban halls relied on patronage from the working class and lower middle class (for example, 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.53 Dave Russell has commented on the regular, though not entirely trustworthy, claims of middle-class attendance made by music-hall journals in the 1880s.54 In the 1890s, middle-class attitudes became more favourable to music hall, swayed by the 'new character of the entertainment' (86), in a word, the respectability striven for by managers (including their moves to encourage the attendance of married women).

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'. Lineage was to become the butt of satire: Pooh-Bah in The Mikado is incurably haughty because he can trace back his ancestory to a pre-Adamite atomic globule. Respectability allowed the bourgeoisie to take a moral stand against certain aspects of working-class behaviour, especially drink and immorality. [See p. 189.] Respectability is not enforced from on high, however; it operates as part of a consensus won by ideological persuasion. Even the eponymous character in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer (1877) is forced to yield to 'public opinion'.

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.56 Methodists, for example, had introduced congregational singing in the previous century [see p. 104], 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.57

The rational and the recreational were linked together in the sight-singing movement, even if the singing was not from conventional musical notation. Joseph Mainzer, John Hullah and, last on the scene, John Curwen each offered competing methods to the singing classes, the latter promoting the Tonic Sol-fa method devised by Sarah Glover, a teacher in Norwich. [See p. 195.] The 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, [216/217] especially of oratorios, the genre that dominated the choral scene. The lionized composer was Handel, and enormous triennial Handel Festivals, involving up to 2000 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 spares no time on the music hall. The working class was thought to need 'rational amusement' such as choirs.58 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.59 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 Haweis, 'say the moral effects of music are small or insignificant.'60 [See p. 190.] 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. Margaret and Despard, in Ruddigore, assure us that the dances they perform together are 'blameless'.

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.61 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 well as vocal, could be found even on the timetable at Mechanics' Institutes, especially after 1830.62

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.63 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 1s for the second day, attracted an audience of 29,000.64 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 [217/218] civil disturbance.65 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 responsive'.66 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.67 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 temperance groups in London and New York which promoted songs portraying the destructive effects of drunkenness on the home and family. [See p. 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', confessed that not only had she no experience of storms at sea, but 'had never even seen fishermen'.68 [See p. 191] Actual acquaintance with fishermen was undoubtedly unnecessary, since the subject position such ballads addressed was that of the middle class.

So, too, did the Savoy operas, which had their roots in the wholesome enter- tainments 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 list of 'society offenders' in The Mikado. The characters of that operetta are, of course, the English bourgeoisie in fancy dress. The Gondoliers (1889) satirizes egalitarianism, summed up in the lines: 'When every one is somebodee, Then no one's anybody.' [See p. 190.] The Gondoliers appeared at a time of anti-monarchist sentiment, and the growth of socialist and republican ideas, but Gilbert does not counter these ideas with a simple eulogy to Tory values. Monarchists are satirized quite as much as republicans, and it is significant that it is Luiz, the presumed nobody, who turns out to be somebody in the end. The issue of class distinction is especially to the fore, and the buying of titles is lampooned by the Duke of Plaza-Toro:

Small titles and orders
For Mayors and Recorders
I get — and they're highly delighted.

The satire aimed at the House of Lords in Iolanthe is more plentiful than that targeting the Commons (Private Willis's song); reform of the Upper House was a contemporary issue. Gilbert removed at rehearsal, however, a song about an unrecognized inventor who inherits a fortune, which contained the lines:

Then suddenly to all it seemed ridiculously clear
Such a universal genius ought of course to be a Peer!
And it's pleasant to reflect that his descendants by the score
In the stately House of Lords will legislate for ever more.

After the first night, attended by an audience 'most decidedly representative of all the best in art and society',69 a song was removed because a critic accused Gilbert of pathos that 'smacks of anger, a passion altogether out of place in a "fairy opera",' and of 'bitterly aggressive politics'.70 The song offended middle-class values [218/219] by telling of a wretched pickpocket and suggesting that anyone 'robbed of all chances' would be forced to steal. It asked rhetorically:

What is he but I
Robbed of all my chances -
Picking pockets by
Force of circumstances?

The subject position addressed in music-hall entertainment is that of the upper-working-class or lower-middle-class male. Peter Bailey has described the sensibilities of the music hall as 'more petty bourgeois than proletarian'.71 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. Leyboume, the most acclaimed of the swells, was given a contract in 1868, at the height of his success with the song 'Champagne Charlie' [performance by author], which made it a condition that he continued his swell persona both on and off stage.72 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 double-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 MacDermott'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. [See p. 172.] The editor of the Musical Times commented, 'it is surprising how those people will shout for war who have no intention of fighting themselves'.74 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.75

In London, the socially mixed music halls were in the centre (the West End halls often attracting a bohemian fraction of the upper class), 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.76 According to Kift, 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 (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, Eh?' (Lytton, Le Brunn, 1892). Earlier, Jenny Hill was known for her presentation of aggressive lower-class female characters, servants and shop girls, who refuse to 'mind their place'.78 [219/220]

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!'79 In another of these ballads, 'Married at Last' (1840), Queen Victoria is represented as having very 'un-Victorian' sexual interests.80 The London urban ballads, however, were not for a community market — there was no personalizing of events as in, for example, the songs written by Tommy Armstrong for his Durham coal-mining community. 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.81 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.82 The next year, during the London dock strike Jim Connell wrote 'The Red Flag' (to the tune of'The White Cockade'), and Harry Clifton's 'conservative anthem'83 'Work, Boys, Work' (which used the tune of Root's 'Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!') was parodied as 'Strike, Boys, Strike'. [See p. 186.]

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; and so on.84 John Kasson, 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 pursuits.85 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 two hundred for singing and dancing. At one penny admission they were cheaper than the threepence needed for a gallery seat at the music hall. The songs and entertainment were of a kind that today usually bears a euphemistic warning advising those who are 'easily offended' to stay away. Mayhew describes with disgust the entertainment on offer and the behaviour of the audience in a gaff he visited.86 However, as Bailey points out, though it proved difficult to impose social order in the gaffs, attempts were made to control the audience's behaviour in music halls. 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. [220/221]

Last modified 23 June 2012