[Activist Folksong Prehistory; Seeger Family] WORKERS MUSIC LEAGUE/COMPOSERS' COLLECTIVE OF NEW YORK
New York: Workers Music League, 1934
First Edition. 7 x 10 1/4 inches (18 x 26 cm). Offset printed. pp. [1-3], 4-31, . 14 songs. Fragile: chips missing/covers separated (tiny rubber stamps/pencil at top). First and last two leaves loose, otherwise intact.
The first of two songbooks published by the Workers Music League (the US section of the International Music Bureau) and assembled by the Composers’ Collective, a group that formed to write music for the working classes. Members of the collective included Charles Seeger (father of Pete, his song here appears under the pseudonym “Carl Sands”), Lan Adomian, Norman Cazden, Robert Gross, Herbert Howe, Alex North, Earl Robinson, Leon Charles, Jacob Schaefer, Elie Siegmeister and H.L. Clarke. Aaron Copland writing in the NEW MASSES called this “the first adequate collection of revolutionary songs for American workers.” Copland continues: “Every participant in revolutionary history knows from his own experience that a good mass song is a powerful weapon in the class struggle...No other form of collective art activity exerts so far-reaching and all-pervading an influence.” Copland actually contributed a song to the second volume of the SONGBOOK. H.L. Clarke, in his article in Grove Music on the “Composers’ Collective” suggests that the WORKERS SONGBOOK provided an example for Alan Lomax, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and other pioneers of the activist folksong movement.