British composer and suffragette Ethel Smyth


This video from Britain says about itself:

March of the Women by Ethel Mary Smyth -100 years ago TODAY! March 23, 2011

23 March 2011

Dame Ethel Mary Smyth was an English composer and leader of the women’s suffrage movement.

The March of the Women was written in 1911 and premiered by a chorus of Suffragettes at a fundraising rally at the Albert Hall in London on March 23, 1911, almost one hundred years ago to this day. The tune became the battle cry of the suffrage movement.

The most famous, though least public performance occurred in Holloway prison in London in 1912: over 100 suffragists, including Mrs. Pankhurst and Ethel Smyth, who had smashed windows of suffrage opponents’ homes in well-coordinated simultaneous incidents all over London, were arrested, tried, and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment.

One day, her conductor friend, Sir Thomas Beecham visited Smyth in the prison only to see the prisoners taking their outdoor exercise marching and singing, “The March of the Women.” Ethel Smyth could be seen at a window overlooking the prison yard conducting them vigorously waving her toothbrush.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

I[nternational] W[omen’s] D[ay]: Not just unseen in our political history but unheard too

Sunday 8th March 2015

Peter Frost remembers one of Britain’s greatest composers who, after nearly a century of being ignored by history, is beginning to get the recognition she deserves

This year Dame Ethel Smyth finally became Radio 3’s Composer of the Week in the run-up to the celebration of International Women’s Day. The recognition has been a long time coming.

But that is only to be expected if, like Smyth, you don’t just write six fine operas and an array of chamber, orchestral and vocal works but also upset the Establishment by throwing stones through the window of the colonial secretary.

It didn’t stop with breaking windows. She also stormed 10 Downing Street itself to hammer out the her Suffragette anthem the March of Women on prime minister Herbert Asquith’s piano while the Cabinet was still in session.

These militant activities saw her, with 200 sister Suffragettes sentenced to two months in Holloway Prison. Sir Thomas Beecham went to visit her in jail and afterwards told this story.

“I arrived in the main courtyard of the prison to find the noble company of martyrs marching round it and singing lustily their war-chant while the composer, beaming approbation from an overlooking upper window, beat time in almost Bacchic frenzy with a toothbrush.”

Smyth led a fascinating and unconventional life. She overcame opposition from her army father in order to enrol at the Leipzig Conservatorium in 1877 where she won respect from Johannes Brahms, Clara Schumann, Edvard Grieg and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

Tchaikovsky, rather sexist and patronising, said of her: “Miss Smyth is one of the few women composers whom one can seriously consider to be achieving something valuable in the field of musical creation.”

Back in England in the late 1880s, her music attracted much attention from influential figures including Thomas Beecham, Adrian Boult, Henry Wood and George Bernard Shaw praising her work.

Smyth became a leading and militant Suffragette in the early 1910s. She met, and became enchanted by, Emmeline Pankhurst, and they eventually became lovers.

Openly bisexual, usually dressed in men’s tweeds and deerstalker cap, Smyth flaunted convention by having affairs, not just with Pankhurst but with Virginia Woolf, her married opera librettist Henry B Brewster and a number of other notable men and women of the time.

She shared a Surrey cottage with three famous sisters Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Agnes Garrett.

She still remains the only female composer to have had an opera performed at the New York Met.

Her most famous opera, The Wreckers, has been compared with Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes but it is rarely performed. The last recording was made over 20 years ago.

Smyth wrote some of her best music for the Votes for Women cause. Her March of the Women came to be adopted as the Suffragette anthem. It still has the power to inspire today.

Later in life increasing deafness curtailed her composing and she turned to writing a series of revealing autobiographies.

In 1939, when war had shut down BBC music and concerts, Smyth was still showing her political sympathies.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph she suggested that a programme of free concerts broadcast from provinces “would lift up the hearts of many … and ease the situation of a class of unemployed the thought of whom gives one perpetual heartache.”

In 1937 she gave an interview to the BBC describing her Suffragette stone-throwing. You can still hear it online.

Re-name Selma Edmund Pettus bridge, petition


This video from the USA says about itself:

Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama (March 7, 1965).

From change.org, about Alabama in the USA:

Petitioning U.S National Park Services and 2 others

Remove Selma’s KKK Memorialization: Rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Fifty years ago, the Voting Rights Movement marched through Selma and over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The marches across the bridge led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and today the bridge is a symbol of nonviolent victory for change!

Unfortunately, the bridge is STILL named after a man who served as Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan, was a Confederate General, and was later elected as a United States Senator.

The bridge was the site of “Bloody Sunday”. On March 7, 1965, hundreds of nonviolent protesters attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery for their right to vote. But as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met by Alabama state troopers and deputized civilians who were armed with billy clubs, tear gas, and cattle prods and attacked the marchers and drove them back to Brown Chapel Church.

How could a landmark that holds so much significance for the civil rights movement be named after a man who not only supported slavery, but held one of the highest positions within the Ku Klux Klan?

It’s time for the state of Alabama, the city of Selma, and the National Park Service to remove a KKK leader’s name from the historic bridge.

Selma and the Voting Rights Movement altered the course of history forever, and Selma has done too much for this country to remain unchanged. Selma is currently 80% African American, with a black mayor and majority African American local city officials. The name Edmund Pettus is far from what the city of Selma should honor. Let’s change the image of the bridge from hatred and rename it to memorialize hope and progress.

Please sign our petition calling on Selma and Alabama leaders and the National Park Service to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Graphic novel on history of protests in English-speaking countries


This music video from the USA says about itself:

Public Enemy – Fight The Power (Full 7 Min. Version)

From 1990 Album: “Fear Of A Black Planet“. Song first appeared on the 1989 Soundtrack: “Do The Right Thing”.

By Michal Boncza in Britain:

Framed for posterity

Tuesday 3rd March 2015

Fight The Power, a history of popular struggle globally, makes highly effective use of the graphic novel format, says MICHAL BONCZA

Fight The Power: A Visual History of Protest Among English-speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson, Benjamin Dickson, Hunt Emerson, John Spelling and Adam Pasion (New Internationalist, £9.99)

“FIRST they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you and then you win,” Mahatma Gandhi once remarked about political struggle.

His words come to mind when reading this inspiring book in the graphic novel format, particularly in a period when there’s a dearth of epoch-defining popular struggles in the Anglo-Saxon world. It’s a salutary reminder of what has been achieved so far but which is often and unwisely taken for granted.

Gandhi’s words about the protracted and open-ended nature of struggle are borne out in all the histories recorded here.

As early as 1776 the founding fathers of the US bestowed on its citizenry the largely nominal right to dissent. But it was exercised to spectacular political effect by Rosa Parks in 1955, when she stood up to bus segregation, kick-starting the historic civil rights protests.

In New Lanark in 1817, the socialist Robert Owen propagated a day divided into three eight-hour periods of work, recreation and rest — it would, however, take well over a century for this goal to be achieved.

Other histories include the Peterloo massacre, rebellions in Ireland, the Suffragette movement, the trial of Nelson Mandela and the 1990 poll tax riots.

The concise graphic novel narrative makes each story easy to grasp and as such the book is an ideal teaching aid for the history curriculum in schools or further education colleges.

Graphic novels resemble film shorts where frame management and composition is as important, if not more so, than the words in speech bubbles.

It is the harmonious balance of the two that impacts and Hunt Emerson is in a class of his own in his work on the Luddites, the Swing Riots and Fragging, the practice of enlisted men shooting superior officers which was so prevalent during the Vietnam war.

His attention to detail within the rigorous demands of the larger tableaux, the organisation of movement and a mesmerising ability to render emotions both individual and collective, along with the textures and vigour of line, are outstanding.

In The Battle of Toledo and The Trial of Nelson Mandela, John Spelling’s sparser composition records the action news-camera style, with sudden changes of angles, unexpected “freeze” frames and long-shots that are real page-turners. The sketchbook drawing style aptly mimics the dynamism of those pivotal events.

They’re typical of the stimulating work throughout the book, which is well worth snapping up.