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HomeSearchGetRecordLiverpool Grand Musical Festival (1823-36)

Collection Description

Collection Title
Liverpool Grand Musical Festival (1823-36)
Unique Identifier
Case 61.g.12
A largely complete collection of prospectuses, programmes and wordbooks for performances given as part of the Liverpool Grand Musical Festival in 1823, 1827, 1830, 1833 and 1836, with MS notes by Sir George Smart, held as five bound volumes (one per season).

Each festival consisted of an opening sermon (with George Smart, organ) and three morning performance of sacred music. Two Grand Miscellaneous Concerts were also given, on the evenings of day one and three. Of the morning performances, one was always of Handel, The Messiah whilst the others were three-act Grand Selections, often containing one or more acts from a Handel or Haydn oratorio. The evening performances were in two acts and were primarily vocal, with orchestral overtures/symphonies at the start of each act and occasional solo instrumental (concerto/concertante) works. From 1827 onwards, the Festival began and ended with a ball.

In 1823, the evening performances were held at The Music Hall. Thereafter they took place at the Amphitheatre in Charlotte Street (described as 'new' in 1827). The sermon and morning performances took place at a different church venue each season (see below).

Programmes for all seasons include annotations in Smart's hand. These provide information on the following areas: timings (length of the complete performance and of individual sections/pieces); alterations to the printed programme (particularly those resulting from the actions of the performers); encores performed; the accompaniment to the vocal pieces (keyboard or orchestral); rehearsal provision; the source of performing parts; the practical arrangements pertaining to the performance (including staging); and the actions and reactions of the audience (including some comments on their behaviour).

All prospectuses (available for the seasons 1827, 1830, 1833) and programmes provided detailed information regarding both the instrumental and vocal soloists and the orchestral ensembles, led by Messrs F. Cramer, Mori and Loder and conducted by Sir George Smart. The Prospectuses also provided information regarding the Stewards for each Festival.

Volume 1: 30 September-3 October 1823
St. Paul's Church (sermon) and St Peter's Church (morning performances). This volume begins with a handwritten list detailing the number of tickets distributed for each concert.

Volume 2: 2-5 October 1827
St Michael's Church (sermon) and St Peter's Church (morning performances).
This volume includes a small amount of correspondence (printed announcements and handwritten letters) regarding the arrangements for the Festival. There is also a booklet containing the rules and regulations of the Liverpool Festival Choral Society (est. June 1828).

Volume 3: 5-8 October 1830
St. Peter's Church (sermon) and St. Luke's Church (morning performances). The volume includes a small number of printed announcements regarding the arrangements for the Festival.

Volume 4: 1-4 October 1833
St Peter's Church (sermon) and St. Luke's Church (morning performances). This volume concludes with an advertisement and programme for a farewell concert given by Monsieur De Beriot and Madame Malibran, at the Amphitheatre in Charlotte Street on Monday 7 October 1833. This was a two-part miscellaneous concert in which Mr C. Wilkinson presided at the piano and Signor Donzelli also performed.

Volume 5: 4-7 October 1836
St. Luke's Church (sermon) and St. Peter's Church (morning concerts). This volume begins with an extract from the Morning Chronicle of 11 August 1836, entitled 'The Musical Festivals'. This praises the efforts of Sir George Smart in the running of various festivals and makes particular reference to the performance of Mendelssohn, St Paul in Liverpool. This performance, the first in England, took place on 7 October 1836. The volume concludes with some brief (handwritten) correspondence regarding Smart's enrolment as a member of the Liverpool Choral Society.
Date range of collection
1823 - 1836
Accumulation Dates
Suggested Audience
Not Specific

Location Details

British Library
The British Library St Pancras ,96 Euston Road London NW1 2DB
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+44 (0)870 444
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Collection Owner(s)
Collection Creator(s)
Collection Collector(s)
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Associated Collection(s)
Cardif University (Prifysgol Caerdydd)Royal College of Music LondonMuseums, Libraries and Archives Council