Where are all the workers’ choirs?

As with communist tea-rooms, beer-halls and restaurants, what happened to all the workers’ choirs?

The workers’ choral societies of Germany recently celebrated a kind of jubilee: the number of worker-singers reached 100,000, with a total membership of 165,000 in these societies. The number of women workers in them is 11,000.

The beginnings of the workers’ choral societies date back to the 1860s. A choral section was founded in the Leipzig Artisans’ Educational Society, and one of its members was August Bebel.

Ferdinand Lassalle attached great importance to the organising of workers’ choirs. At his insistence, members of the General Association of German Workers founded, at Frankfurt am Main in 1863, a workers’ society called the Choral Union. This Union held its meetings in the dark and smoky back room of a Frankfurt tavern. The room was lit with tallow candles.

But no amount of police harassment can prevent the singing of the hearty proletarian song about mankind’s coming emancipation from wage-slavery in all the great cities of the world, in all the factory neighbourhoods, and more and more frequently in the huts of village labourers.

Lenin, Collected Works, volume 36, pp. 225-6

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