Albert Lancaster “Bert” Lloyd was born 29th February1908 in Wandsworth, South London, His father held numerous jobs trawlerman, docker, draper’s, poultry farmer before serving in World War One, when he was severely wounded in the War. He worked for a time as an Automobile Association patrolman. Lloyd recalled that on a visit to Sussex when he was a child of five hearing Folk music. He remembered his parents singing “gypsies songs” around the house. Unfortunately by the age of fifteen his mother had died of tuberculosis and his father an semi-invalid ex solider was to unwell care for him.
He became heavily involved in Centre 42 named after resolution 42 moved by the Association of Cinematograph, Television and Allied Technicians (ACTT) and seconded by the National Union of
Mineworkers on cultural activists passed at the 1960 TUC Congress
Congress recognises the importance of the arts in the life of the community, especially now when many unions are securing a shorter working week and greater leisure time for their members. It notes that the trade union movement has participated to only a small extent in the direct promotion and encouragement of plays, films, music, literature and other forms of expression, including those of value to its beliefs and principles. Congress considers that much more could be done..
In 1971 Lloyd help produced a six episodes of a television documentary with Barry Gavin a television producer
Alan Dudley Bush was born in Dulwich on 22 December 1900. As a student at the Royal Academy of Music from 1918 to 1922 he won several prizes both as pianist and composer, after which he continued his studies as a composer with John Ireland and as a pianist with Benno Moiseivitch, Mabel Lander and Artur Schnabel in Berlin.
He later returned to the Academy as a professor of composition, where he taught several generations of British composers as professor of composition at the Royal Academy from 1925-78
Another close mentor, from around 1915, was Rutland Boughton (see separate entry), a famous composer. In 1924, Bush joined the Independent Labour Party and a year later he became actively involved in the London Labour Choral Union, which Boughton had founded. In 1929, Bush entered Berlin University to study Philosophy and Musicology but his work towards a degree was cut short by the depression and the threatening rise of Hitler fascism. He returned to London in 1931 and within two or three years was profoundly committed to Marxism, joining the Communist Party in 1935.
In 1936 he helped found the Workers Music Association, of which he was chair from the beginning until he became President in 1941 continuing in this role until his death in 1995. He was also WMA Director of Studies at each successive WEA Annual Summer School until 1975.
Alan Bush had early success as a professional composer with his String Quartet, op. 4, which was given a Carnegie award in 1925. Bush is credited with over a hundred works of composition, including his best known work, Dialectic (1929), op. 15, for string quartet, which followed his debut piece, Relinquishment (1928). This helped establish his reputation abroad when it was performed at the Prague International Society for Contemporary Music Festival in 1935. He also founded the London String Orchestra in 1938 and continued to be associated with it up to 1952.
Much of his pre-war music was written the most advanced of European idioms of the time. Later, he developed the idea of a `national' style that was simpler, intending to make the music more accessible to a wider audience.
The Workers' Music Association acted as an organisational body for events, and as a publisher of working-class songs (both historical songs and newer songs written by contemporary composers). In 1934 Bush wrote the music for a theatrical pageant The Pageant of Labour at Crystal Palace. For 1938, a much bigger series of events was planned which included a production of Handel's Belshazzar, a large pageant at Wembley Stadium, and a Festival of Music for the People staged at the Albert Hall.
For the event at Wembley Stadium Bush wrote his Pageant of Co-operation to a scenario by Montagu Slater and Andre van Gyseghem (Bush, together with Slater, Gyseghem and Randall Swingler - see separate entry) were prime movers in mounting these mass pageants). The work was performed on 2 July 1938 by members of the London/South Suburban/Watford Co-operative Societies with the speaking parts and ensemble directed by Bush.
His Truth on the March (1940) reflected the historical moment but, in the early stages of the second world war, he was banned - amongst others - from performing for the BBC for signing up to the Peoples Convention, although this was later lifted. Later, Bush was in the army, for the RA Medical Corps, from 1941-5.
He produced four symphonies, one of which was inspired by the 1930s economic crisis and another by the Lascaux cave paintings. In the immediate post-war period, he produced The Winter Journey and Lidice (1947), which brought the story of how the Nazis had liquidated the very existence of a Czech village which had been the centre of resistance that was now in the process of reversal by the post-war socialist state there.
His operas all have themes of social significance and the words of six of seven operatic works were written by his wife, Nancy Bush (see separate entry). In 1947 the collaboration in the field of full-length opera between Nancy and Alan began with Wat Tyler, a dramatic story of the Peasant Rising of 1381. Our Song, to a text by Nancy, was commissioned for the opening of the Nottingham Co-operative Arts Centre and was first performed by the Workers' Music Association Singers, conducted by the composer in 1948.
In 1949 the newly-formed Arts Council announced that it would commission a number of full-length operas in connection with the Festival of Britain. Composers were to compete under pseudonyms. At the time of the announcement it was carefully stated that no production could be guaranteed. Four works were commissioned under the scheme and one of these was Alan and Nancy Bush's Wat Tyler. In the event, none was performed in Britain at the time of the Festival.
Wat Tyler did, however, achieve great success in Germany: it received two studio broadcasts from Berlin in 1952 and these led to a stage production in Leipzig during the 1953-4 season. This first run comprised 14 performances and the opera was revived again in the following season. In addition Bush received three further operatic commissions from German theatres. Other well-known operas of Bush are the Sugar Reapers, Men of Blackmoor, Joe Hill, the Man Who Never Died and Guyana Johnny; whilst Voices of the Prophets was more of a choral piece (1953). Africa is My Name also appeared in the 1950s.
Whilst always well thought of in Eastern Europe, under socialist governments, his ability as a composer was never given much scope for performance. A series of BBC programmes in the 1980s at last gave Bush the recognition he deserved as a British composer of distinction. Reflecting this, perhaps, Bush produced his last major composition, Six Short Piano Pieces (1983). Alan Bush died in 1995.
By Graham Stevenson
During the night of Tuesday, 15 January 1957, Will Sahnow, General Secretary of the Workers' Music Association, died in his sleep. This untimely event (he was only 59) has bereft the cultural movement of the British working-class of a musician' of great versatility, supremely well fitted for the post he occupied since 1939, when his appointment as a paid official transformed the Association from a struggling group of enthusiasts into a continuously functioning centre of activity, from which any working class organisation could obtain advice or practical help in any musical field.
Will's first love was the orchestra, his instruments the 'cello: and french horn His first musical position was as an amateur conductor of an Orchestra in North London, organised by the London Co-operative Society. He took from the first a great interest in the brass band movement, and later entered the field of choral music, singing and conducting in the Co-operative choral movement.
His appointment as General Secretary of the Workers' Music Association came at the beginning of its first period of expansion. For several war years he organised the Topic Record Club, which produced and despatched a record to eac|h of its 900-odd members every month; he carried out the organisation of the recordings and the labour of dispatching the records with the regular help of one part time assistant only. In addition he had to cope with the extensive publication of music, including the large sales of Soviet songs, and of books such as lain Lang's
Background of the Blues.
Since the war the activity nearest to Will's heart has been the annual Summer School, of which last year's was the eighth. The production of Topic Record was resumed several years ago, and only last September reached a point when full-time organiser. Bill Leader, could be appointed.
In the midst of all this Will found time to compose songs, to make arrangements for brass band, and to cut man beautifully written stencils of choral music.
For many years he found in the theory and practice of the Communist Party that guide to action which can alone transform life in Britain into a society in which musical art will become the possession of the whole people and a worthy expression of their advance in peace and happiness
World News 2 February 1957
Randall Swingler (May 28, 1909 – 1967) was an English poet, who wrote extensively in the 1930s and joined the Communist Party in 1934.
He came from a well-to-do family near Nottingham and was educated at Winchester College, and New College, Oxford. He was an accomplished flautist, and later was much involved in musical collaboration, as a librettist.
He established Fore Publications (1938); the magazines Left Review (to 1938), Arena, Seven and Our Time. Swingler also published the Key Books series, and the Key Poets series. He was one of the organisers of the covert Writer's Group of the late 1930s, attempting to co-ordinate a 'literary policy' of the Left. He was involved also in work for the Unity Theatre.
He served with the British Army in Italy in World War II, joining as a private soldier, and being awarded the Military Medal. After the war he experienced hard times. Randall Swingler left the Party in 1956, was one of the founders of The New Reasoner and died on 19th June 1967.
Charles Ringrose (see separate entry) stated of Randall Swingler at the time of his death in June 1967 that:"For the very moving memorial work to those who fought in Spain, composed by Benjamin Britten in 1936, Randall contributed the text for the tenor solo and final chorale; he was associated with Alan Rawsthorne in two works the last "A Rose for Lidice" having been performed at Thaxted a few years ago, conducted by Imogen Holst.
His main work in the field, however, was done in co-operation with Alan Bush, starting with "Hunger Marchers" in the early 30s and culminating with the dream of Llewellyn up Griffith
His text for the last movement of Bush's Piano Concerto was unique as the first piece of writing in this genre, also it was Randall who was co-editor with Alan Bush of the Left Song Book published by the left Book Club in 1938".
Randall Swingler also wrote under the nom de plume of A L Carline and John Arkwright.
His publications include:
`Crucifixus (1932) - play
`Difficult Morning (1933) - poems
`The Left Song Book, (1938) - compiled with Alan Bush
`The Years of Anger - poems
`The God in the Cave (1950) - poems
See: Comrade Heart: A Life of Randall Swingler (2003) by Andy Croft; Selected Poems of Randall Swingler (2000) edited by Andy Croft;
Morning Star 26 June 1967-----------------------------------------------------------------
The Communist Party was involved in both English Folk revival's and key to this was the Eel's Foot Public House, Eastbridge, where A.L. "Bert" Lloyd Communist and Workers Music Association founder, recorded the now famous BBC Radio Folk session on 13th March 1939.