The Distin legacy : the rise of the brass band in 19th-century Britain

Farr, RK 2021, The Distin legacy : the rise of the brass band in 19th-century Britain , PhD on publication thesis, University of Salford.

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Throughout the nineteenth century the brass band movement emerged as part of the larger processes of social, cultural and political change, and the rapid progress of industrialization. The growth of the movement was determined, most significantly, by the introduction of valved instruments, the rise of mass production and new markets, the gradual increase in leisure time, and improved social conditions. This portfolio examines the influence of the Distin Family brass ensemble on the developing brass band movement in Britain during that time. The hypothesis that frames this portfolio is that the Distins invented the brass band. The argument presented is that what distinguished the Distins in this historical context was their capacity to recognise opportunities, both artistic and commercial, and through their entrepreneurship to play the leading role in the establishment of the brass band movement in its modern form. Against the claim by Algernon S. Rose in Talks with Bandsmen (originally published by Broadwood & Sons in 1895 and reprinted by Tony Bingham, London) that “Adolphe Sax was the inventor of the brass band”, the evidence presented in this portfolio shows that the Distin contribution was ultimately the more significant. While each separate strand of the Distins’ entrepreneurial activity (performance practice, repertory, contests, publishing, and musical instrument manufacturing) and their seminal influence on early brass band development is examined, it is the combination of these strands which is used to make the case that without the Distins, the brass band as a medium would not have become established. As well as drawing critically on previous research - e.g., Scott (1970), Taylor (1979), Herbert (1991), Myers (1991), Jones (1995), Newsome (1998), Russell (1997) and Mitroulia (2011), the portfolio interprets the significance of the Distins in the light of new empirical and archival research. New material has been discovered which challenges conventional views of the evolution of brass bands. Particularly relevant in showing the importance of the Distins are the newspaper and magazine reports documenting an estimated 10,000 performances during their concert tours around the world. It was partly due to their fame as performers that the Distins were able to wield such influence, as a result of which, thousands of brass bands sprang up throughout Britain in the nineteenth century. While the importance of the Distins to the beginnings and subsequent development of the brass band is shown primarily with analysis of their performances, perhaps the bigger contributing factor was the Distin Instrument Manufacturing Company where their capacity for genuine innovation, and business acumen and entrepreneurship may be seen. Included in this portfolio are early brass band scores with direct connections to the Distins. These have been rediscovered and reconstructed into scholarly performing editions. Besides providing a valuable insight into an important historical resource, they underpin the importance of the Distins in the creation of the brass band as a medium.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD on publication)
Contributors: Dewhurst, R (Supervisor) and Hart, AM (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Depositing User: RK Farr
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2022 09:47
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2022 02:30

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