Fiddle and Fight
International Publishers, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 182 pages
Here is the story centered on Russell Brodine's life in music, from high school in Seattle, to studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, through many years in the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
While he fiddled at his double bass, he joined with the other musicians to fight for better pay and working conditions, for equality for women and for inclusion of musicians of color in the symphonic ranks.
When he was hired in the symphony orchestra, pay was less than $2,000 a year. They needed to fight!
"Working for improved conditions and pay is working for better music. The quality of musical performance cannot be separated from union activity to insure a stable orchestra. Bass players are often activists for collective betterment of the orchestra. We are not frustrated soloists and sometimes refer to ourselves as gang players. This makes for cooperation and a recognition that the welfare of one depends on the welfare of all."
Fiddle and Fight includes surviving the Depression, shipyard work during World War II, other music jobs, family life and a remarkable living alliance with an African-American couple, Walter and Essie Johnson. It is a story of principled struggle against oppression and racism, well-seasoned with warmth and humor.