Miss Maria Kiladi

Supervised by

  • Erik Levi First/primary/lead supervisor


Research interests

My thesis examines the London Labour Choral Union, a music organisation founded in 1924 by the London Labour Party and its leader, Herbert Morrison, along with the socialist composer, Rutland Boughton. Originally conceived as an umbrella organisation to bring together all the socialist choirs that were active in London, the Union soon became the most significant cultural activity of the Party. However, after Alan Bush took over as a conductor in 1929 following Boughton’s resignation, two main points become evident: An international outlook, with the Union participating in international socialist music organisations, such as the Internationale der Arbeitersänger (IDAS), and a strong gravitation towards Communism.

The main focus of the thesis is how this trajectory from socialism to Communism was achieved, what were the contributing factors, and to what extent the original socialist element of the Union was sacrificed in this ‘hard march to the Left’. Research questions also include the extent to which this was done voluntary or was imposed by the leadership (and Bush in particular). The political background and debates of the 1920s and 1930s are closely examined, to demonstrate how these affected directly the Union’s membership, repertoire, and the activities in which it participated. Material examined included sources from the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Strasbourg, along with the MI5 (Secret Services) files which provide an additional interesting angle in what the establishment thought about the Union and its Communist affiliations towards the late-1930s.

My research interests include the extensive area of music and politics, specifically music and socialism/communism. I am particularly interested in the way political parties use music as a propaganda medium to promote their ideas; how political doctrines are manifested in repertoires and musical activities organised by parties, and the state’s reaction towards these attitudes. My focus is not so much on individuals, but on organisations and their interaction with their members and the state.


Other work

As part of my PhD, I have attended the RHUL inSTIL programme (Higher Education Academy) and have gained experience in teaching in Higher Education, providing tutorials to first year Undergraduates at the Music Department for two terms.

Largely thanks to my work at Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers' Archive (as part of a project funded by the Centre for Performance History, Royal College of Music) and at UCL Library Services and Special Collections, I have developed an interest in the area of Digital Humanities. I am currently studying on an MA course at UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities, which will enable me to bring together my academic experience from the PhD and the work experience as a Library Assistant at UCL. 

Educational background

I have a piano diploma from the Hellenic Conservatoire (Athens, Greece) along with diplomas in Harmony, Counterpoint and Fugue. As a pianist, I have worked extensively in ensembles (mainly piano duets and trios) and in accompanying singers.

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