Classical Music And Credit Unions

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Classical Music And Credit Unions

On August 22nd, 1994, President Clinton signed an official proclamation that declared September “Classical Music Month,” to celebrate the dynamic tunes that got music to where it is today. Since September is also the birth month of U.S. credit union pioneers Edward Filene and Louise Herring, we thought it’d be fun to look at the history of credit unions and classical music tangentially, with the foremost composers of the time providing the soundtrack.

The Medieval Period

For classical music, this period occurred from around 500-1400. It was in its most primitive stages, and derived strictly from the church.

From 1849-1899, credit unions were in equally primitive stages, as Friedrich Raiffeisen had just established his first cooperative credit lending society to help poor farmers in rural Germany. He went on to develop several cooperative bank systems that functioned on similar principles as modern credit unions today.

Defining song: La Messe de Nostre Dame by Guillaume de Machaut  is the perfect piece to define both time periods. Though it signifies humble beginnings, the religious fervency and introduction of polyphony underscore the noble aspirations and innovative ideas that define credit unions today.


The Renaissance Period

Though the Renaissance is often considered the height of art and philosophy, the same can’t be said for credit unions or classical music. However, this period was no doubt a time of expansion and transformation for both.

The Renaissance Period occurred from 1400-1600. Around 1400, the invention of the printing press ushered in new styles of music, as it could now be printed. The philosophical movement away from the church and technological advances to instruments allowed for more experimentation.

The credit union Renaissance Period lasted from 1900-1933. In 1900, Alphonse Desjardins brought the idea of a cooperative financial system to Canada, where he founded the first North American credit union. Less than a decade later, the revolutionary Edward Filene and banking commissioner Pierre Jay began organizing public hearings on creating credit union legislation in the US. By 1909, the first American credit union was founded in New Hampshire by Alphonse Desjardins. The three of them worked together to pass The Massachusetts Credit Union Act of 1909.

Defining Song: Claudio Monteverdi’s magnificent Magnificat is an example of his revolutionary composition, combining the now-traditional church polyphony with the new basso continuo technique that would define the Baroque period. Just as it laid the foundation for the next musical development, The Massachusetts Credit Union Act laid the groundwork for the national legislation that was soon to come.

The Baroque Period

The Baroque Period was the beginning of what we recognize as classical music today, and a time of vast national expansion for credit unions.

The Baroque Period lasted from 1600-1750 in classical music. Starting roughly around 1600, compositions became ornate, and brought about the invention of common classical styles like the concerto and the sonata. This period covers the reign of classical kings like Bach and Vivaldi.

Credit unions entered their Baroque phase in 1934 and exited in 1969. Thanks to the work of Edward Filene and other visionaries, credit unions were also reaching commonality. In 1934, FDR signed the Federal Credit Union Act, which authorized all federally chartered CUs, thus beginning national regulation of credit unions.

Defining Song: Music became more ornate in the Baroque Period, as did the national system of credit unions and credit union legislation. Though the former was intended for nobility and the latter for egalitarian purposes, the GOAT composer Bach’s grandiose Brandenburg Concertos capture the excitement of both times.

The Romantic Period

The Romantic Period (1820-1910) spawned great experimentation, as emotion and melody were the driving force behind the music. Previously intended for the nobility, the Romantic era was the beginning of vast musical interest among the middle class. Different instruments took leading roles, and orchestra sizes nearly tripled. Towards the end of the era there was a rise in nationalism in music, with composers echoing the traditions of their homelands. Ironically, the end of this period (1910) was just about the beginning of credit unions in the US.

For credit unions, the Romantic period is today, or 2000-Present. Experimentation and growth is abound, with credit union membership passed the 100 million mark in 2014, and many CUs on the forefront of financial technology. Just as nationalism grew in music, being part of a credit union today is a mark of pride. At The Pod Advertising, we’re equally proud to work with these noble and historied institutions.

Defining Song: Credit unions today are incredibly diverse, and it wouldn’t be fair to define them all with one tune. Romantic giants like Chopin, Brahms, and Wagner are going to get the short stick on this one. Instead, we’ll go with American modernist composer John Cage’s 4’33”, because we live in a world where every credit union brand gets to define itself.