17 May 2018

The people’s music: From street ballads to music hall in 19th century Bristol

The nineteenth century was a period of significant change in the music of the people.

Most notable of those changes was the advent of music hall. Legislated into being so as to
separate drama and high society from the popular music of ‘the people’, it was a roaring
success across the country, followed somewhat reluctantly, by Bristol.

Here, the city hung on to its pubs and ‘convivials,’ and to its simplest form of the people’s music: street ballad singers.

Targeted by the city’s law-makers as beggars rather than entertainers, they and their songs were – mostly ineffectually – banned from the streets, but singers were occasionally gaoled for their efforts.

This talk will examine nineteenth century Bristol in terms of performers, venues and the music itself.

Speaker: Dr Nick Nourse, post-doctoral research associate at the University of Bristol

This is a UWE Regional History Centre talk.