[Editor: This untitled article, about exclusionary trade union practices regarding musicians, was published in the general news section of The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 4 April 1912.]
[Probably Professor Marshall Hall was right]
Probably Professor Marshall Hall was right when in his direct fashion he declared that the unionists trouble in the musical world is not musical at all but political, and is part of the Labour movement. Political music is a new and very ominous development. It is
“The little rift within the lute
Which by and by will make the music mute,
And every widening slowly silence all.”
Dickens once described the relief he felt when re resigned his position as Parliamentary reporter in the House of Commons, “and transcribed the music of the “Parliamentary bagpipes no more.” But that particular oratorical drone is not the class of political music which Professor Marshall Hall deprecates. It is the kind of music which a man must play only when he is licensed thereto by a Trades-hall union.
A man may govern all the ventages of his instrument most aptly, and discourse most excellent music; yet he will produce only discord if he wear not the union badge. It cannot be true that music hath charms to soothe the savage breast when it so inflames the unionist.
Much has been said about the victimisation of the unionists, but in this case it is the coercion or victimisation of non-unionists which is openly attempted.
The officers of the Musicians’ Industrial Union (for industrial it must be, or it could not be registered under the Arbitration Act), becoming aware that some of its members who are employed in picture theatres also played with the Marshall Hall Orchestra, where musical ability is the sole avenue to employment, demanded of the picture show managers that their permits to play with the orchestra should be withdrawn. In explanation of his compliance one of the managers wrote in the following painfully humble strain:—
“I have been forced to withdraw the permit I gave to the members of my orchestra to play at your forthcoming concert. I much regret this, but I could not risk the trouble with the union which would occur if they played without the permission of that union.”
Here is the union boycott exercised in all its stringency. So far as the Trades-hall can enforce its decrees no man may earn his living as a musician unless he first joins the union.
It is satisfactory to find that the conductor and the committee of the orchestra have made up their minds to resist this attempted tyranny, and to continue to employ players whether they be unionists or not. If the question were tested in the High Court it would probably be found that it is a breach of the Constitution to class musicians as “industrials.” It certainly is an anomaly that the Trades-hall should be allowed to extend its belligerent influence into the domain of art; and the result will surely be that it will injure those whom it seeks to benefit by its despotic methods.
The Marshall Hall Orchestra has done much to improve the status of musicians, and it has supplied them with an additional means of increasing their all too slender incomes. But music which is to the few a necessity is to the majority a luxury, and one which the public will forego if an attempt be made to use it as a political weapon under the influence of the Trades-hall. Surely in the enjoyment of this art all classes should be able to meet on common ground, and forget their political strife, as completely as they set aside all religious differences.
It is only because of the complete tolerance of one side of politics that the other side ventures to display its bitter intolerance. The unionists are, as Professor Marshall Hall pointed out, only a fraction of the community, and they cannot be permitted to impose their bitter and selfish decrees on the people as a whole. If the unionists attempt to translate freedom for themselves into a license to cruelly oppose others, they will soon be taught that they are making a serious mistake.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 4 April 1912, p. 6, columns 2-3
hath = (archaic) has
House of Commons = (in the context of the UK) the lower house of the parliament of the United Kingdom
ventage = a small hole, opening, or vent; a hole in a musical wind instrument (e.g. bassoon, flute, oboe, recorder), which may be covered by a finger, thumb, or key so as to produce a note or sound (also known as a finger hole, finger-hole, fingerhole, fingering hole, or tone hole)
See: 1) “Tone hole”, Wikipedia
2) “How the oboe is made: The sound is adjusted based on the shape of the tone hole?”, Yamaha