The evolution of the brass band and its repertoire in Northern England
The initial English amateur wind bands were reed bands which developed from the numerous military and militia bands prevalent during the beginning of the nineteenth century. These early amateur bands grew in numbers as the Industrial Revolution gave a new life to thousands of people in the northern counties. By the middle of the third decade., the bands began to convert to all brass instrumentation and by mid-century the brass band was common to all of the north of England and began to spread to the midlands and further south. The first Belle Vue Contest was held in 1853, and from that date, contesting has remained an important facet of the brass band movement. In the beginning, amateur band music consisted of popular and patriotic songs. From the very popular contests, operatic selections for brass band developed which remained into the twentieth century. These operatic arrangements with their dramatic programme and soloist-accompaniment design suited the brass band. By the end of the century, brass bands were an important entertainment, if not cultural media for the working class bandsmen and their peer audiences In the twentieth century the role of the bands reverted from one of entertainment for listenerso to its original role of providing an activity for the participants. One result of this reversion has been the composition of original works for brass banaby recognized English composers. The brass band in the span of one hundred and fifty years has become well established as an English tradition and heritage.