Euston Road (Camden)

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Brass instrument maker Gustave Auguste Besson was born in Paris in 1820. At the age of eighteen he produced a revolutionary design of cornet which surpassed all contemporary models. He formed the Besson Company in 1837 and his products quickly gained a great reputation throughout Europe.

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In 1857, he moved to London where he built a large factory at no. 158 Euston Road. Following Besson’s death in 1874, the company changed its name, becoming Fontaine-Besson in 1880 in France, and Besson in England. At the end of the nineteenth century (1894), the Besson factory of London employed 131 workers, producing some hundred brass instruments a week. In 1968, the group Boosey & Hawkes acquired the Besson London brand. As a consequence, Besson cornets, horns, trombones, tubas and other instruments are still made today. The Boosey family was of Franco-Flemish origin. The company traces its roots back to John Boosey, a bookseller in London in the 1760s and 1770s. His son Thomas continued the business at no. 4 Old Bond Street.

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Gresham Street

 

001Merchant banker Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Schröder [known as: Baron John Henry Schröder] was born on 13 February 1825 in Hamburg into a prominent dynasty of bankers and merchants. His father was one of the foremost merchants of his generation in Hamburg. During the Napoleonic wars he lived in London, where he built up a mercantile business with his brother. In 1818 he established his own merchant banking firm, J. Henry Schroder & Co (now at no. 31 Gresham Street).

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John Henry Schröder joined his father’s London firm in 1841, aged sixteen, learning the business under the supervision of a resident partner. The London partnership was restructured in 1849, the new resident partners being John Henry and Alexander Schlüsser. The latter was a specialist in trade with Russia. Much of the firm’s business was conducted in Hamburg and other commercial centres with John Henry’s brothers and cousins, who formed an extensive network of family firms. Schröder married Alexander’s niece Dorothea Eveline Schlüsser. They took up residence in fashionable Bayswater.

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On Alexander Schlüsser’s retirement in 1871, Henry Tiarks, the son of a pastor to London’s Anglo-German community who had worked at the firm as a clerk since 1847, was made a partner. The 1870s and 1880s were John Henry’s heyday as a businessman. He was a director and later chairman of the North British and Marine Insurance Company; in 1888 he became a director of the West India Dock Company, and two years later a member of Lloyd’s of London.

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In 1895, being childless, he brought in his nephew Bruno Schröder from Hamburg to represent the family in the partnership. The latter soon assumed control of the firm’s affairs. John Henry spent the remainder of his time looking after his extensive collection of objets d’art and the cultivation of orchids. Throughout his life, Schröder was a generous benefactor to German institutions and charities. From the outset he was treasurer of the German Hospital, Hackney, and in 1862 he became a trustee of the Hamburg Lutheran Church, London’s oldest German institution. He died in April 1910. He was one of only thirty persons to leave a fortune in excess of £2 million in the years between 1895 and 1914.

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Big Hitting, Hard Drinking Dutch Sam : Petticoat Lane (Whitechapel)

 

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The London Jewish community of the mid-eighteenth century was expanding rapidly, mainly through immigration. These immigrants fell into two broad categories: Ashkenazim, who had arrived from Eastern and Central European countries, and Sephardim, largely of Iberian descent. The Ashkenazim were poorer and tended to integrate less well. They accounted for most of the Jewish pedlars and small-dealers.

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The Sephardim, by contrast, were wealthier and tended to be laxer about religious observance. As merchants and financiers they fought to have restrictions lifted on international trade. British law at the time dictated that foreign-born persons applying for naturalization had to receive the Sacrament at Anglican Holy Communion. Jewish immigrants could be exempted from this requirement, but were granted ‘endenization’ which carried fewer rights than full citizenship (such as the right to own land or trade with the colonies).

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In 1753 Henry Pelham’s Whig government proposed a bill allowing Jews who had been resident in Britain for three years might be naturalized without taking the Sacrament. The Jewish Naturalization Act (or ‘Jew Bill’) passed through both Houses of Parliament, but created press-inflamed agitation amongst the public. Tory papers denounced the Act as an attack upon Christianity. As it happened, 1754 would be an election year. Beginning in May 1753, the opposition sponsored articles in the London Evening Post attacking the Jew Bill. Much of the opposition was cynical politicking, but it revealed deep-rooted social anxieties too. The London Evening Post was particularly aggressive in building up a picture of Jews as cruel and sinister ‘monsters’.

Early in his career Henry Fielding had created The Grub Street Opera (1731). The ballad-opera failed, but one song survived and was integrated in Don Quixote in England (1734). Its title was ‘The Roast Beef of Old England’. Thanks to the intervention of singer-composer Richard Leveridge who added a few new stanzas and gave the song a catchier tune, it gained the status of a national anthem.

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In 1748, William Hogarth painted The Gate of Calais, better known as The Roast Beef of Old England. He established in visual form the stereotype of poverty-stricken French citizens that was used time and again by satirists after him. His picture shows a huge rib of red-blooded beef being delivered to Madam Grandsire’s English hotel in Calais. Surrounding the porter are a trio of poor fishwives, a pair of miserable soldiers, a salivating friar, a couple of emaciated cooks, and a pauper in the tattered uniform of the failed Jacobite rebellion. All are in contrast to the anticipated plenty represented by the hunk of English meat central to the scene.

The symbolism is plain: native means wholesome, foreign indicates weakness and effeminacy. Loathing of foreigners was multi-adaptable: what applied to one, applies to another. In the mind of the British public the Jew was a foreigner. The Evening Post’s adaptation of ‘The Roast Beef’ simply swaps hatred of the French for that of Jews (28 July 1753; first verse):

When mighty Roast Pork was the Englishman’s Food,
It ennobl’d our Veins and enriched our Blood,
And a Jew’s Dish of Foreskins was not understood,
Sing Oh! the Roast Pork of Old England,
Oh! the Old English Roast Pork.

The ‘pamphlet war’ was an ugly one. In broadsides and ballads Jews were accused of ritual murder, of planning to turn St Paul’s Cathedral into a synagogue, of wanting to force British males to be circumcised. Antisemitism had returned with a vengeance. The gloves were off. The outburst of hatred postponed any further attempt to modify the legal status of Jews within society. In the clamour of anti-Jewish propaganda the dictionary of medieval slurs was reopened and, more worrying, elements of modern ‘racial’ stereotyping were introduced. It undermined any tendency towards religious tolerance for generations to come. The rhetoric of the row suggested that Jewishness and Englishness were incompatible. Integration was impossible. Five months after its introduction, the government withdrew the Act.

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During the later decades of the eighteenth century the East End of London began to be occupied by poorer classes of Jews from Central and Eastern Europe, their numbers overrunning those of long-established immigrants in the area which caused strains of overcrowding. In this tense atmosphere, Samuel Elias – better known as Dutch Sam – was born on 4 April 1775 in Petticoat Lane, Whitechapel. In this tough area, boxing was a narrative of the immigrant poor. For young Jewish boys fighting helped to confirm a sense of identity and ethnicity. The ring was a place to knock out stereotypes, a punching stage of liberation. Sam learned to box at former heavyweight champion Daniel Mendoza’s academy.

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Known as Mendoza the Jew, this bare-knuckle-fighter of Paradise Row, Bethnal Green, had captivated Regency London with his skills and set an example for Jewish kids to follow. Sam’s first recorded boxing match took place in 1801. He became the sensation of the pugilist circuit. The young lightweight faced opponents who were taller and heavier than he, but his blending of power and guile proved lethal. On 7 August 1894 he faced Caleb Baldwin, the ‘Pride of Westminster’. Sam ‘invented’ the uppercut and humiliated his celebrated opponent in the only defeat of his career. It cemented Dutch Sam’s reputation as the biggest hitter in the game, earning him the nickname of the ‘Man with the Iron Hand’. The ‘Terrible Jew’ (another nickname) was unbeatable. He succeeded Mendoza as the sporting hero of the London Jewish community.

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His training regime was unusual. Sam could not go through his exhausting physical routines without an ample supply of gin. In one of his fights (April 1805) he was, according to reports, ‘positively inebriated’ when entering the ring, but in spite of that he professionally trounced his opponent. Considering the ‘rules’ of the game at the time that was quite a remarkable feat. Until Queensberry, there were no written regulations, no weight divisions, no round limits, no rest periods, and no referees. A boxer was declared the winner when his opponent was physically no longer able to continue. A single bout went a long way. Dutch Sam fought Tom Belcher, the brother of former heavyweight champion Jem Belger, on three occasions. The first fight, held in 1806, ended in a 57th round knockout win for Sam. The second match, which took place the following year, ended in a draw; the third was a 36th round stoppage win for Sam. Such was his standing that Daniel Mendoza agreed to act as second in his corner for all three bouts. After defeating Ben Medley in 1810 in round 49, Dutch Sam retired undefeated in over a hundred contests.

Sam was admired for his skill and agility. Between 1812 and 1828 Pierce Egan published his Boxiana; or, Sketches of Modern Pugilism with illustrations by George and Robert Cruikshank (the book went through several editions in five expensive volumes). The author charted the ‘Sweet Science of Bruising’, the progress of bare-knuckle boxing from its emergence in the early eighteenth century to its decline in the 1830s (and he also included an anthology of pugilistic verse). His verdict on Dutch Sam was full of praise: ‘Terrific is the only word that adequately describes his manner of fighting’. In 1814, Sam made the fatal error of a comeback. Not for money or pride, but because of a drunken dispute with William Nosworthy, a young baker from Devonshire who had recently beaten a Jewish boxer.

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His anti-Semitic remarks upset the Dutchman who challenged him to a fight. Against medical advice he once again entered the ring. Although Sam had remained in training, his gin habit had deteriorated. A shell of his former self, he was knocked out by his opponent in the 15th round. After a life of fighting and boozing, he threw in the towel on 3 July 1816 and was buried in Whitechapel. His son, known as Young Dutch Sam, also became a professional fighter. Arthur Conan Doyle (who showed a keen interest in boxing and wrestling) included Sam as a character in his 1896 boxing novel Rodney Stone. The Iron Fist had made a mark, bruising his way out of a life of misery and discrimination towards levels of recognition that young London refugees could aspire to. East London’s uncompromising environment produced more champion fighters than any other part of Britain – most of them were of Jewish immigrant descent.

Flag Frenzy (Fifth Avenue, New York)~

On the early battlefield flags served the purpose of identification. They gave the protection to those fighting within a single unit and enhanced their chance of survival. During the Crusades a variety of regimental flags were carried by a multi-national company of knights and soldiers as identification signs for individual groupings. Alfred Altdorfer’s _Alexanderschlacht_ (1529) provides a splendid image of the tactical use of military banners. In battle, the fall of one’s flag meant surrender, defeat, death. Enemy flags were coveted as booties as their symbolic value allowed for hype and bragging. Since early armies were made up mainly of mercenaries, the flag was of no particular emotional significance to the individual fighter. The flag’s function was predominantly utilitarian. The complex process of communication in shipping channels gradually gave rise to a standardized language of flag signals to promote safe navigation.

All this changed on the eve of Romanticism. The transformation was hurried along by the mechanization of (uniformed) warfare in which the flag as rallying point was no longer needed. Having lost its strategic purpose, the flag acquired wider allegorical significance. In 1830 Eugène Delacroix painted his political masterpiece La Liberté guidant le peuple. It is considered the ultimate image of the French Revolution without portraying the events of 1789 itself. Instead the artist commemorated the July Revolution which toppled Charles X. The painting presents a woman personifying the Goddess of Liberty who leads her followers forward over a barricade of dead bodies, holding the tricolore in one hand (now the national flag), and a bayonetted musket in the other. Liberty, also known as Marianne, is a symbol of France and the French Revolution. Another minute flag can be seen in the distance flying from the towers of the Notre Dame. The painting is the iconic image of both the ecstasy and sacrifice that revolution represents. The flag embodies the ideals of liberty and equality.

With the stoking of patriotic passion emerged the desire to display the flag as a symbol of civilian passion and emotion. Little more than piece of fabric (the introduction of silk allowed for the popularization of flags), colours and image of the national flag were nurtured as expressing the (racial) identity, ideas, and feelings of the society it represents. Most European countries adopted their national flag in the course of the nineteenth century (Netherlands in 1813, Greece 1822, Switzerland 1889). The frenzy for the flag is a relatively recent phenomenon. Artistic representation ran more or less parallel to political developments. In 1867 Claude Monet painted Jardin à Sainte-Adresse (a seaside resort near Le Havre). It was his first masterpiece. A holiday scene of family members painted in ‘plein air’, the painting was exhibited at the fourth Impressionist exhibition of 1879. From an elevated viewpoint Monet painted the terrace, sea, and sky as three distinct bands, vertically organized by two fluttering flags in the breeze. The image celebrates leisure and relaxation. The technical challenge Monet had to overcome was to suggest atmospheric conditions on canvas. He succeeded in making wind visible. Having raised the weather flag, he initiated his generation’s passion for pennant-painting. The emotive commemoration, , added a new aspect to the flutter of flags. Having been declared a national holiday by the French government, the festivities marked the restoration of national pride after the humiliation of the Franco-Prussian War and the schismatic events of the Commune. France gathered around the tricolore. The flag represented unity and patriotism. French flag-waving inspired an American visitor.

Over the course of his creative life, Boston-born Frederick Childe Hassam (he would later drop his first name) produced over 3,000 paintings, watercolours, and lithographs. Having begun his career as a draftsman for wood engraver George Johnson, he established his first studio in 1882. Working mainly in his preferred medium was watercolour, he depicted scenes on misty days or at dark nights and concentrated on movement (pedestrians, carriages, etc.). Hampered by la lack of formal training, Hassam undertook a study trip to Europe during the summer of 1883. He travelled extensively in order to take note of the Old Masters, creating many sketches and watercolours on the way. In 1885, back in Boston, he created _Columbus Avenue: Rainy Day_. The image of a buzzing city in damp weather conditions indicated Hassam’s ambition to introduce urban themes in the Impressionist manner to an American audience. He returned to Paris and settled near Place Pigalle. One of his Parisian streetscapes was exhibited at the Salon of 1887. Two years later Hassam moved into a studio apartment at New York’s Fifth Avenue and established the reputation of being ‘America’s Monet’. He was instrumental in promulgating Impressionism to collectors and dealers.

Between 1916 and 1919 flags flew from almost every pole in Paris, London, and New York. Hassam composed a set of about thirty paintings showing images of a flag-decorated Fifth Avenue. The first in the series of Stars & Stripes paintings had been inspired by a so-called ‘Preparedness Parade’. War in Europe sparked an American debate on involvement. Theodore Roosevelt advocated expanding the military in anticipation of the spreading conflict, but President Woodrow Wilson preferred a position of armed neutrality. Parades for and against engagement were held around the nation. Hassam supported the idea of intervention. Being an avid Francophile and passionately anti-German, his flag paintings were both deeply patriotic and aimed at encouraging the Allied war effort.

In the years leading up to the First World War flags and banners had become the symbols of an intensely felt nationalism. Flag desecration was its inevitable correlative. In 1914 futurist artists began a hate campaign against the Austro-Hungarian Empire which controlled a number of former Italian territories. In September, Umberto Boccioni, seated in the balcony of the Teatro dal Verme in Milan, tore up an Austrian flag and threw it into the audience, while Marinetti waved an Italian flag (although there are contradictory reports on the incident). The outbreak of war further encouraged flag worship. Patriotism became idolatry. In 1915 [Giacomo Balla]() painted _Bandiere all’altare della patria_ (Flags at the altar of the motherland). Flags symbolized various extreme political cults. Music and banners emerged as powerful tools in the nazification process. Consecration fanfares and flag songs were composed in honour of the Führer and performed during tightly organized rallies. Anthem of the Nazi Party was the Horst-Wessel-Lied, also known as ‘Die Fahne hoch’ (Flags on high – from its opening line). Flags achieved the status of a graven image. The Blutfahne was originally the banner of the fifth Sturmabteilung (Stormtroopers). After the crushing of the Munich Putsch in November 1923, it was soaked in blood. Restored upon Hitler’s release from prison in 1925, the blood flag was idolized asd a ‘sacred’ Nazi relic.

Erich Fromm, born in Frankfurt am Main into a Jewish family, moved to Geneva after the Nazi takeover and from there, in 1934, to Columbia University in New York. He had observed the mass psychology of flag-waving from nearby. In _The Sane Society (1955) he insisted that nationalism is ‘our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity’ – patriotism is its cult. Just as love for one individual which excludes the passion for others is not love, love for one’s country which is not part of one’s attachment to humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship. Waving the banner of nationalism is politically and morally pervert. It causes xenophobia, emboldens bigotry, undermines democracy, and creates demagogues. Nationalism limits the individual as being the sharer of a distinct group based on such indicators as language, religion, or ethnicity. It builds – either for real or in a metaphorical sense – a protective wall around its members to keep out ‘others’, because newcomers threaten their way of life, take their jobs, rob their properties, rape their daughters, or block their GP appointments. The other in our midst means bother, a person not to be embraced but to be treated as suspect. The foreigner is a threat – he is to be registered, controlled, marked, and made visible. His status has to be settled.

The Cosmopolitan Mind : Palace of Westminster (Westminster)

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The Renaissance held music in high regard. It played a prominent part in religious, court and civic life. The interchange of ideas in Europe through ever closer economic and political contact brought about the creation of new musical genres, the development of instruments, and the advancement of specialist printing. By about 1500, Franco-Flemish composers dominated the domain. Most prestigious among them was Josquin des Prez who, like fellow artists at the time, travelled widely. The intensity of international encounters led to stylistic developments that have been qualified as truly European. By the beginning of the sixteenth century Antwerp had developed into an international hub of musical activity. The important initiatives were undertaken by the church. Antwerp Cathedral employed twelve choristers who lived in a private house where they received instruction from a singing master. At the beginning of the century this office was held by Jacob Obrecht, famous for his polyphonic compositions. His prolific output consists of some twenty-six masses, thirty-two motets, and thirty secular pieces, not all texted. Antwerp also employed a company of fiddlers for both secular and ecclesiastical performances. Musicians from all over Europe chose Antwerp as their home, amongst them a number of English composers.

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Peter Philips had moved to the Continent as a refugee. He was one of many Catholic musicians who left England for Flanders. A prolific composer of sacred choral music, he was made organist to the Chapel of Archduke Albrecht in Antwerp. In 1593, he travelled from the Southern Netherlands to Amsterdam to ‘see and heare an excellent man of his faculties’. The man he referred to was Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, a composer and organist known as the ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam’. The latter had converted to Calvinism in 1578, but remained sympathetic to his old faith. Another refugee in Flanders was Hereford-born John Bull. Appointed chief musician to Prince Henry in 1611, he furtively disappeared to Flanders after the death of his patron in November 1612. Bull later explained his flight because of the accusation of Catholic sympathies made against him. He moved to Brussels where he was employed as one of the organists in the Chapel of Archduke Albrecht VII, sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands. From September 1615, he held the post of organist of Antwerp Cathedral. In December 1617 he acted as city organist at ‘s Hertogenbosch. Bull’s reputation rests mainly on his keyboard music. The composition of God Save the Queen has been attributed to him.

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Antwerp was renowned for its printing. Originally, all music was notated by hand. Manuscripts were costly and owned exclusively by religious orders, courts, or wealthy households. That all changed in 1501 when Venetian printer Ottaviano Petrucci published Harmonice musices odhecation, the first significant anthology of (100) polyphonic secular songs. The availability of notation in print boosted the development of instrumental music for both soloists and ensembles, and engendered the creation of new genres. In Flanders, Tielman Susato was the first printer to gain esteem for producing music books. Nothing is known about the date or place of his birth – he may have been Dutch or German. Details about his activities begin in 1529 when he was working as a calligrapher for Antwerp Cathedral. He also played the trumpet and was listed as a ‘town player’ in the city. In 1541, he created the first music printing company in the Low Countries which he combined with selling musical instruments from his home. During a prolific publishing career he was responsible for twenty-five books of chansons, three books of masses, and nineteen books of motets. The indefatigable Christopher Plantin was also active in printing music and produced some of the finest choir-books of his day. From the 1570s onwards, the Bellerus and Phalesius families were leading printing houses within the domain. The whole contemporary repertoire was made available by Antwerp presses: vernacular song books and psalms as well as polyphonic secular and religious music. Composers from all over Europe had their work printed in this, the most musical of all cities at the time.

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Flourishing musical life in Antwerp and Brussels did not go unnoticed at the Palace of Westminster. Henry VIII himself had received a thorough musical education and was a dedicated patron of the arts. He was accomplished at the lute, organ, and virginals and, apparently, sang as well. Henry recruited the best musicians to join his court. A number of Flemish musicians figured amongst the many Europeans that were attracted to take part in music making in and around London. Dyricke Gérarde [Derrick Gerarde] arrived in England in 1544. Little is known of his life, but almost his entire musical output is contained in manuscript at the British Library. These manuscripts constitute one of the largest collections of polyphony by a single composer to have survived from the Elizabethan era. His achievement however was overshadowed by the reputation of a Flemish composer who had arrived in in the capital some two decades previously.

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Lutenist Philip van Wilder was first recorded as a resident in London in 1522. By 1529 he was a member of the Privy Chamber, the select group of musicians who played to the king in private. During the second quarter of the sixteenth century Van Wilder oversaw secular music-making at the court, a position that brought him close to Henry VIII. He taught playing the lute to Princess (later Queen) Mary and subsequently to Prince Edward (later Edward VI). At the time of Henry VIII’s death in 1547 Van Wilder was Keeper of the Instruments and effectively head of the instrumental musical establishment at Westminster, a post later known as Master of the King’s Music. The upkeep of the Royal instruments at Westminster was a heavy duty. The scope of that task becomes clear from the inventory of Henry’s possessions at his death, listing thirteen organs, nineteen other keyboard instruments (virginals and clavichords), and several hundred smaller wind and string instruments including viols, lutes, and recorders.

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Van Wilder continued to enjoy Royal favour during the reign of Edward VI. He was granted a coat of arms and crest and, in 1551, authorized to recruit boy singers for the Chapel Royal from anywhere in England. Three years after his death in February 1554 an anonymous tribute was paid to the musician and printed by Richard Tottel in his collection of Songes and Sonettes (1557), commonly known as ‘Tottel’s Miscellany’, containing the following line:

Laye downe your lutes and let your gitterns rest.
Phillips is dead whose like you can not finde,
Of musicke much exceeding all the rest.

In an age of wandering artists and scholars, the Renaissance was an internationalist movement united by a common (Latin) language. Its civic life teaches our age the salutary lesson that a nationalist message is one of disengagement. The appeal to nativist emotions conceals the yearning for a flawless world that never was or will be. The cultural strength of a country manifests itself in participation – that is, in the openness of borders, the assimilation of non-native concepts, and the embracing of external influences. It takes a cosmopolitan mind to be a patriot.

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The Artist as Wallflower (Piccadilly, Westminster)

Usually, the phrase ‘migrants and their families’ is a code for ‘male migrants and their wives and children’. The near-invisibility of women as migrants and their presumed passivity in the migration process in historical reports on the subject, does not reflect reality. For many women relocation meant deliverance from assumed traditional roles and behaviours – as is reflected in the notable careers of two immigrant artists.

Angelica Kauffmanwas born on 30 October 1741 in Chur, capital of the Swiss canton of Graubünden. In 1742 the family moved to Lombardy and ten years later to Como. The young girl showed talent for both art and music, but pursued a career in painting. Whilst in Rome, she became acquainted with German antiquarian Johann Joachim Winckelmann, whose portrait she painted. She also befriended British neo-classical painters Gavin Hamilton and Nathaniel Dance. These contacts inspired her to concentrate on classical and mythological subjects. Since her work proved popular with grand tourists, she readily accepted Lady Wentworth’s invitation to continue her career in England. She arrived in London in June 1766. Within a week she visited Joshua Reynolds in his studio, and her pictures were soon in demand. After lodging in Suffolk Street, Charing Cross, Kauffman occupied a fashionable house in Golden Square, Westminster. In 1767, she suffered a disastrous relationship with bigamist Count Frederick de Horn, who claimed to be a Swedish nobleman. She married him in secret. He signed a separation agreement (February 1768), after being exposed as a fraud and forced to leave the country. She stayed single until July 1781 when, after receiving news of De Horn’s death, she married Venetian painter Antonio Pietro Zucchi, who also resided in London. The couple settled in Rome where her studio became a popular stop for visitors on the grand tour.

Mary Moser was born on 27 October 1744, the daughter of George Michael Moser who had moved from Schaffhausen to London in 1726 where he worked for a cabinet-maker in Soho. During the 1740s he established himself as the finest gold chaser of his generation and a prominent member of the capital’s artistic community. He died in January 1783. At his burial at St Paul’s, Covent Garden, Joshua Reynolds was chief mourner. In his obituary he paid tribute to Moser as the ‘Father of the present race of Artists’, because of his individual skills and inspirational teaching at London academies. Mary had trained with her father and gained the patronage of Queen Charlotte for her flower paintings in oil and watercolour. Her most elaborate work was executed between 1792 and 1795 at Frogmore House, Windsor, where she ornamented rooms with flowers painted directly on the walls as well as large inset canvases that invoked the impression of cascading garlands.

On 28 November 1768 George Michael Moser, together with Francis Cotes, Benjamin West, and William Chambers, petitioned the king to patronise a Royal Academy. Subsequently, the Royal Academy of Arts was founded through a personal act of George III on 10 December 1768 with the aim of establishing a system of professional training and to arrange regular exhibitions of contemporary works of art. The immigrant contribution to the creation of the Royal Academy was considerable. Founding members included Jeremiah Meyer, Francesco Bartolozzi, Giovanni Battista Cipriani, Augostino Carlini, Francesco Zucarelli, and Dominic Serres. Art in the capital was a truly European affair. Moser was elected Keeper of the Academy. Initially located in cramped quarters in Pall Mall, the institution was given temporary accommodation in Old Somerset House in 1771. It moved to Burlington House in 1868, where it remains.

Angelica Kauffman and Mary Moser were the only women mentioned among the thirty-six founding members of the Royal Academy. As females, however, they were prohibited from the proceedings of the Academy and excluded from committee meetings and dinners. In fact, their presence seemed to cause embarrassment to male members. Johan Joseph Zoffany was born on 13 March 1733 near Frankfurt am Main. After a successful career as court painter to the Elector of Trier, he decided to try his luck in London where he settled towards the end of 1760. Actor David Garrick commissioned him to paint informal scenes at his villa at Hampton where the actor had built a ‘Temple to Shakespeare’. At a stroke a new genre was created. Setting up a studio in Covent Garden, Zoffany painted a series of pictures which became known as ‘theatrical conversations’. Success earned him the patronage of George III and Queen Charlotte.

In 1762 Zoffany was nominated a member of the Academy by the king and painted the group portrait ‘The Academicians of the Royal Academy’ (exhibited in 1772). Fellows are gathered around a nude male model at a time when decency demanded that women were barred from such spectacles. In order to include Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffman, the painter added them not as participants to the scene, but – rather unflattering – as portraits (face only) hanging on the wall. A later painting by Henry Singleton, ‘The Royal Academicians in General Assembly’ (1795), shows the ladies alongside other academicians, but their bodies hidden behind the President’s chair with only their heads detectable. Emancipation among artists has seen strange turns and twists. For long, the art world was boys club. Women artists remained virtually invisible to the public eye, they were wallflowers at best. Mary Moser’s death in 1819 marked the start of an extensive stretch of time in which women were excluded from the Academy. It was not until 1936 that impressionist painter Laura Knight became the next woman to be elected a Royal Academician. This long interlude makes it all the more remarkable that these two women who shared an alien background (temporarily) broke the pattern of male exclusivity in British art societies. They demonstrated that migration unshackles mind and emotion. The need to adapt is a force of release from limiting traditions and attitudes.

Patriotism and Resentment : A Tale for our Time


The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is the oldest of the capital’s orchestras and the first British orchestra owned by its players. As a self-governing body, LSO gave its first concert on 9 June 1904, conducted by Hans Richter (the first principal conductor until 1911) at Queen’s Hall, Langham Place, Westminster. Since 1982, the orchestra has been permanently based in the Barbican Centre. Among conductors with whom it is most associated are, in its early days, Hans Richter, Edward Elgar, and Thomas Beecham. In more recent decades Pierre Monteux, André Previn, Claudio Abbado, Colin Davis and Valery Gergiev have been working with the orchestra. Simon Rattle will take up his position of musical director from September 2017. The creation of LSO was the result of a musical uprising in which immigrant musicians played a prominent part. 

At the turn of the twentieth century there were no permanent salaried orchestras in London. Musicians were contracted on an individual basis. Since there were competing demands for the services of performers and no binding contracts, a player was free to accept a better-paid engagement at any time. He (it was male dominated profession) would simply hire another player to deputise for him at the original concert. In September 1903, Robert Newman, the manager of the Queen’s Hall, and the conductor of his promenade concerts, Henry Wood, unilaterally decided to end this chaotic system. In response, approximately half of its players resigned from the Queen’s Hall Orchestra. Musicians were not highly paid, and removing the opportunity of more lucrative engagements was a financial blow to many of them. Some of the leading players decided to form their own orchestra. 


The principal movers of the initiative were horn players Adolf Borsdorf, Thomas Busby, and Henri van der Meerschen, and trumpeter John Solomon. As performers these men were highly regarded and referred to as ‘God’s Own Quartet’. Busby organised a meeting in which he set out the principles. A new ensemble named the London Symphony Orchestra was to be run on co-operative lines, something ‘akin to a Musical Republic’. Members would share in the orchestra’s profits at the end of each season. The proposal was approved unanimously. Newman held no grudge against the rebels, and made the Queen’s Hall available to them. He and Wood attended the LSO’s first 1904 concert which included the prelude to Die Meistersinger, music by Bach, Mozart, Liszt, Elgar, and finally Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. German music ruled the capital.


Henri Louis van der Meerschen was born in Brussels on 30 September 1866. He attended the Brussels Conservatoire studying under Louis-Henri Merck. There he earned the Premier Prix with distinction in 1885 after which he was invited by Bruges-born Eugène Goossens to become a member of the celebrated Carl Rosa Opera Company at Drury Lane. This company had been founded by Hamburg-born Karl Rose with the aim of producing operas in English. The British premier of Puccini’s La Bohème and Madame Butterfly were among his successes. He was also the outstanding performer of Wagner at the time, presenting The Flying Dutchman (1876), Rienzi (1879), Lohengrin (1880), and Tannhäuser (1882) to an English audience. Having joined Henry Wood’s Queen’s Hall Orchestra, Van der Meerschen was one of the four rebels who initiated the foundation of LSO. 


In 1914 the LSO had just reached its tenth birthday. Financially sound and artistically refined, the orchestra was acknowledged to be among the finest in the world. The outbreak of war intervened. Conductors and musicians cancelled tours and performances because they were unable to travel; some members of the orchestra were enlisted. In spite of difficulties, LSO declared that it would continue playing concerts. By 1916 the situation became more problematical. Grave news from the front spread gloom and pessimism at home. The Zeppelin bombardment of London kept audiences indoors. At the start of the year conscription had been imposed. By July 1917 thirty-three members of the orchestra (about a third of its male membership) were sent to the trenches for active service. An increasing number of female players acted as their replacements. 


Traditionally, the LSO had strong German roots and preferences. In 1915 it had initiated a successful ‘Three Bs Festival’: Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. An attempt to repeat the treat in 1916 hit the brick wall of a hostile press and public opinion. In September 1916 the Pall Mall Gazette attacked the orchestra in a crusading series of articles for the overwhelming presence of German music in their repertoire. It argued that those in London ‘who have felt war in their skins are not to be drugged with sound, however sweet’. LSO was forced to present a more patriotic, if not jingoistic program of performances. 


Edward Elgar, who had been LSO’s principal conductor during 1911/2, was living in London at the outbreak of war. In 1914 he was asked to contribute to an anthology called King Albert’s Book to raise money for Belgian refugees affected by German occupation. Brussels-born playwright, poet and translator Émile Leon Cammaerts had moved to England in 1908. He translated works by John Ruskin into French and selected a number of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown detective stories in La clairvoyance du père Brown. In 1933 he was appointed Professor of Belgian Studies at the University of London. He married actress Helen Tita Braun (stage name: Tita Brand), a daughter of the Wagnerian diva Marie Brema (who was born Mary Agnes [Minnie] Fehrmann, the daughter of merchant from Bremen in Liverpool). Elgar set Cammaert’s poem ‘Après Anvers’ to an orchestral accompaniment. It was premiered under the name of Carillon by the LSO on 7 December 1914 at the Queen’s Hall. The composer himself conducted and Tita Brand recited the poem. It roused anti-German spirits at the time and was revived for the same reason during World War II with a new text by Laurence Binyon.


For resident German musicians in Britain the war years were a bitter and painful experience. Impresario Alfred Curtis was born Alfred Schulz-Curtius around 1853 in Germany. He settled in London in the early 1870s. He founded a music and artists’ management agency at no. 44 Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, in 1876. He was the first to bring Richard Wagner’s music to the London public. In 1882, he arranged the British staging of the Ring Cycle under the Hungarian conductor Anton Seidl. During decades of professional activity, Schulz-Curtius organised dozens of concerts in London’s venues and worked with many of Europe’s major conductors and performers. At the beginning of the First World War he was arrested and interned as an enemy alien, despite of having become a naturalised British subject in 1895, and changing his name by deed poll to Alfred Curtis in September 1914. He died in March 1918.


Adolf Borsdorf was one of the leading figures in the rebellion against Newman and Wood in 1903/4 and the subsequent foundation of the LSO. Born on 25 December 1854 in Dittmansdorf, Saxony, he studied French horn at the Dresden conservatory and played in a military band. In 1879 he moved to London where he stayed for the rest of his life. He was appointed Professor at the Royal College of Music, South Kensington, when it was founded in 1882. He was playing principal horn in the orchestra that Henry Wood conducted at the first Promenade Concert in the Queen’s Hall in 1895. He was also in the orchestra when Richard Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel was given its first English performance in 1896 with the composer conducting. Enjoying an international reputation, he used his influence to secure Hans Richter to conduct LSO’s first concert. 


The intensity of anti-German feeling during of the First World War would deeply hurt him. At the outbreak of hostilities, he had been living in London for more than thirty years and his wife was British. In spite of that, the members of the orchestra turned against him. They requested his removal from their ranks. By October 1915 he was told that he would not be allowed to play again until the end of the war. In November he felt forced to resign from an orchestra he himself had helped to create and to flourish. Borsdorf never performed professionally again. He died in April 1923. His vital contribution to London’s musical culture in general and to raising the standard of British horn playing in particular was only recognised in retrospect. The risk of whipped up patriotism is that it quickly runs sour. In becoming an expression of resentment rather than pride, the spirit of tolerance is sacrificed.