Trevor Herbert gave a paper on ‘The military and provincial music in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries’ at the RMA and Leeds University Centre for English Music Study Day ‘Amateur Music-Making in the British Provinces’ at University of Leeds, School of Music, on 18 June.
Abstract: By the 1780s the law required the establishment of militia units in every British county; larger counties had more than one. Almost all units had bands of music drawn from existing local amateur musicians and sources of new ‘ab initio’ musicians. Bands of music were also sponsored in each county regiment of the regular army, but unlike militia units these spent a large part of their time on detachment in the Empire. The bands in both types of unit played ceremonial music, but the greatest part of their repertoire was made up of an eclectic collection of works aimed at entertaining officers, their guests and the public at large. There is good evidence to conclude that the military, in one guise or another, created the largest expansion in provincial instrumental music-making and (through the regular army) the largest ever expansion of the UK music profession.
A number of questions arise from these developments and they will be addressed in this paper by reference to primary source materials:
Why were musicians seen as important components of provincial military units?
How were they recruited and trained?
What repertoire did they perform and who were the arbiters of taste?
What was the relationship between these groups and various sectors of the public?
How did these developments impact on provincial amateur music?