Discussion Group: Alan Bush, the Soviet Union and Music in Britain in the 1936

Readings may be downloaded from the TORCH website, but everyone is welcome to attend whether they have had time to read the materials or not.

Our discussion group this term focuses on Soviet influences on music in Britain in the 1930s, focusing particularly on composer and communist Alan Bush (1900-1995) and his work with choirs and working-class organisations. We examine two documents from 1936: firstly, a review of a concert performance of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District which took place on 18 March 1936 at the Queen’s Hall, London; secondly, an unpublished article by Alan Bush outlining his aesthetics and practice of workers’ music. We will discuss the extent to which British artists were properly aware of fast-moving developments in the Soviet Union, and how Soviet influences shaped performance practice as much – if not more – than composition.