A brass band exists to make music, and in most cases the end results of the hours of band rehearsal and personal practice are the concerts performed for the many audiences that bands enjoy – from the park bandstands, to formal hall concerts, from weddings to grand civic ceremonies and much more.
The flexibility of the brass band, its instrumentation, range of repertoire and “all-weather” capability made it a popular choice for musical entertainment in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Only with the advent of radio, television and cheap recordings did the demand for live concerts diminish somewhat.
Contests between brass bands started in 1845 and have remained a popular method of improving the standard of musicianship of the brass band movement overall. Much has been made over the years about the relative merits of one band over another on the contest platform, and much has been written about the same in the banding press and adjudicators’ comments.
Much of the information about what bands played where is now lost, but details do still exist in contemporary newpaper reports, old concert programmes and contest reviews.
The Historical Events page in the IBEW gives details of a growing number of contests and concerts from contemporary accounts. It provides a fascinating insight into those early brass bands, their music and their rivalries on the contest stage.