2013 marks the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Musicians’ Union.
To celebrate this milestone in history, the Musicians’ Union has dug deep into the archives to reveal a fascinating past, uncovering some notable successes throughout the decades.
In April 1893, a young clarinettist, Joe Williams, sent an anonymous letter to his fellow musicians in Manchester inviting them to a meeting to discuss forming a union to, ‘Protect us from amateurs, protect us from unscrupulous employers and protect us from ourselves.’
The small gathering that took place as a result of Joe’s letter was the seed of what was to grow into the Amalgamated Musicians’ Union (later to become simply the Musicians’ Union).
Within six months the AMU had 1,000 members with branches in Liverpool, Newcastle, Dundee and Glasgow and it was not long before the Amalgamated Musicians’ Union was taking on employers and demanding an improved standard of employment for its members.
The challenges that have faced musicians since Joe Williams’ inaugural meeting in Manchester have been many. The arrival of ‘talkies’ at the turn of the century, two World Wars, the gramophone player, apartheid, developing technology and online piracy, have all threatened the livelihoods of musicians. Through every twist and turn, the Musicians’ Union has stood strong, fighting the fight for those who make a living from music.
Even Joe Williams might have been amazed by the long-term resilience of the Musicians’ Union that now boasts over 30,000 members. The Union has faced many challenges over the last 120 years and emerged in 2013 stronger than ever.
For more information, please contact:
Steve Rose at EMMS Publicity
0207 607 5765