Brass bands are tosh!


Active Member
this article was recently shown to me by a friend of the band. i wont type the entire article out because its 5 pages long, but i just want to share a couple of interesting points that made me laugh:

"Although born of the working class, the music [brass band music] united all and sundry. It did not please some, however, and angry letters appeared in newspapers. The following was typical:

Dear Sir,
As a Minister by the Grace of God, i raise my voice against the flagrant evil of the brass bands which are ruthlessly ignoring, scorning and trampling underfoot the Fourth Commandment. Their Sunday playing encourages immorality.

there was also another one:

Sir Henry Wood and Sir Frederick Bridge of the Incorporated Society of Musicians were dedicated converts to this new music [brass band music]. The young Thomas Beecham was too, until the discovery that brass bands were a threat to orchestras led him to declare "Brass bands are tosh; don't listen to 'em!"

*both pieces taken from an article written by Alf Hailstone for the magazine "This England"


Active Member
the article was written in 1992. i dont know when the letter and stuff was written though. its not recent, i know that much. as far as i can tell its talking about the mid to late 19th century and brass banding, which would explain the big christian opposition.


i agree with the sunday playing- or at least having to get up early for to play-it aint right!!


i have both my band's practices on a sunday and my bands are so different im knackered by 6pm!!!


Staff member
When The Salvation Army started, working largely with the "unchurched", many of whom were not exactly welcomed by the more respectable classes, many church people were against the movement, and some unusual alliances were forged between the "pillars of society" and the ruffians who would try to disrupt any meetings that took place.

In fact, the origin of SA banding comes from finding ways to counter such opposition and, reading some of the early accounts, it is clear that the band acted as much as bodyguards, as was the case when Charles Fry and his three sons took their instruments with them for the first time in Salisbury in 1878.

William Booth (the Founder of The Salvation Army) had doubts himself but, ever the pragmatist, soon saw that the bands could be effective both in supporting the singing and also in creating a point of interest in their own right. Nevertheless, there would still be those who were unhappy with the Army's methods and it was a long time before it became fully accepted in church circles. (I believe it was either St Pauls or Westminster Abbey that refused to alow an SA gathering for fear of damage being caused by their hobnail boots!)

The question of "observing the Sabbath" is a complicated one, and forms the basis of the opposition mentioned above. For a long time in the Army people would not use public transport on a Sunday - William Booth himself used to walk miles to and fro his speaking engagements - and I've just been reading, in the history of te Melbourne Staff Band, that when some of the bandsman arrived on bicycles at the corps they were visitting to lead Sunday worship, half the congregation boycotted the meeting in protest!

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