This article seeks to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between modernism and left-wing politics in 1930s Britain. Accounts of Britten in this decade have associated both his eclectic interest in modernism and his left-wing political leanings with his individuality and otherness in a conservative decade. The 1930s music of Alan Bush (1900–95) has instead been discussed in terms of a conflict between his modernist-influenced serious music and his political commitments, a process that culminated in his open renunciation of his earlier ‘formalism’ in response to Zhdanov’s 1948 dictates. Using a variety of contemporary journalistic sources and unpublished letters and writings, broader understandings of the connections between modernism, politics, and Bush’s aesthetic theories are explored. Drawing on case studies of Bush’s workers’ music and his Concert Piece for Cello and Piano (1936), I argue that Bush sought a connection between modernism and left-wing politics that questioned the desirability of individual expression.


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pp. 432-452
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