Sahnow Will

Will Sahnow


Born in 1898, Will Sahnow’s first love was the orchestra, his instruments the cello and the French horn. His first musical position was as an amateur conductor of an Orchestra in North London, organised by the London Co-operative Society. He took a great interest in the brass band movement, and later entered the field of choral music, singing and conducting in the Co-operative choral movement.  


An early member of the Communist Party, Sahnow was appointed the full-time General Secretary of the Workers' Music Association in 1939. This move aided the transformation of the Association from “a struggling group of enthusiasts into a continuously functioning centre of activity”.


During the Second World War, Sahnow organised the Topic Record Club, which produced and despatched a record to each of its 900-odd members every month. He carried out the organisation of the recordings and the labour of dispatching the records with the regular help of one part time assistant only. In addition, he had to cope with the extensive publication of music, including the large sales of Soviet songs, and of books such as lain Lang's `Background of the Blues’.

Sahnow’s principal activity in the post-war years was the preparation for and organisation of the WMA’s annual Summer School, held from 1949. But the popularity of Topic Records hit a high point during the early 1950s and in September 1956 a full-time organiser, Bill Leader, was appointed.
Sahnow was a translator and composer of songs, an arranger of brass band pieces and a producer of beautifully written stencils of choral music.

He died in his sleep during the night of Tuesday 15th January 1957, at the age of only 59 years.


Source: A.B. in World News 2nd February 1957


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