The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #48534   Message #2360784
Posted By: GeoffLawes
08-Jun-08 - 02:00 PM
Thread Name: ADD: Viva la Quinta Brigada (Christy Moore & not)
Subject: RE: ADD: Viva la Quinta Brigada (Christy Moore & not)
I have stumbled across the Blog of Malcolm Redfellow who expresses some curiosity about the involvement of Pete Seeger in the song but who ascribes the words of Quince Brigade to a Dutchman,Bart Van Der Schelling. I reproduce the interesting'new'information below.

"As far as Malcolm can determine, the song was wished on the folk-music scene by one Bart Van Der Schelling, a musician, activist and member of the Dutch segment of the International Brigade.

Time Magazine has this from 4th August 1941:

World War II has yet to produce a great song, but last week some of its saddest were heard in the U.S. The League of American Writers produced an album of records ($2.75) called Behind the Barbed Wire—six songs of the French, Spanish, Italian and German anti-Fascists who now rot in the French concentration camps of Gurs, Vernet d'Ariège, Argelès-sur-Mer.

The six songs were recorded in Manhattan by a Netherlands-born fighter in the Spanish Civil War, Bart van der Schelling. He wears his chin in a brace, is called "official singer" for the U.S. survivors of the International Brigades of the Loyalists. Singer van der Schelling is backed by an "Exiles Chorus" directed by Earl Robinson (Ballad for Americans). Some of the songs—the Spanish Joven Guardia, the Italian Guardia Rossa, the German Thaelmann-Bataillon, the French Au Devant de la Vie (music by Soviet Composer Dmitri Shostakovich)—were composed during the Spanish War. Most of them are in rough, plodding march time. The one which gives the album its name was composed by a German, Eberhard Schmitt, in the camp at Gurs. Its chorus, translated (not quite so lame in the original):
Behind the wire, our courage is unbroken;
We yield to no one! We're not broken reeds!
Jail or internment, we're masters of our lives,
Nothing counts with us but deeds!
For where Germany's and Austria's sons may be,
One goal they cling to: Liberty! . . .

Malcolm has never come across hair nor hide nor shellac of that 1941 recording, but we find Quinte Brigada [sic] is track 14 on "Fighting the Fascists, 1942-44", which is Disc 4 of Bear Family Records 10-CD compendium of Songs for Political Action. The credited musicians and singers are Pete Seeger, Tom Glazer, Baldwin Hawes and Bess Lomax.

It next turns up in The People's Songbook, originally published by Boni and Gaer in New York in 1948. And from there it became a:

Traditional Spanish Folksong from 'The People's Songbook', also known as 'Ah, Manuela!' it is possibly the war's signature song.

Thereafter, it turns up repeatedly in Pete Seeger's repertoire, notably in the Carnegie Hall Concert of June 8, 1963.

Though fond of the song, Malcolm has some doubts about the honesty of its parentage. It sure ain't "traditional", but van der Schelling or Seeger: does it really matter?


This full blog posting doesn't consider some of the possibilities discussed in this and other Mudcat threads such as the fifth/fifteenth Brigade confusion which I think address some of his doubts about the XV song. Does anyone have anything more to add about the Dutch writer (if he was the writer).