Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

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Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Philharmonic Hall Liverpool.jpg
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Location Hope Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, England
Coordinates Coordinates: 53°24′04″N 2°58′12″W / 53.4012°N 2.9701°W / 53.4012; -2.9701
OS grid reference SJ 356 898
Built 1939
Built for Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society
Architect Herbert J. Rowse
Architectural style(s) Streamline Moderne
Listed Building – Grade II*
Designated 19 March 1981
Reference No. 1279652
Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool is located in Merseyside
Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
Location in Merseyside

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall is a concert hall in Hope Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, England. It is the home of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society and is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.[1] It is not the original concert hall on the present site; its predecessor was destroyed by fire in 1933 and the present hall was opened in 1939.

Original hall[edit]

The Liverpool Philharmonic Society was founded in 1840 but initially did not have a permanent concert hall.[2] In 1844 the Liverpool architect John Cunningham was appointed to prepare plans for a hall. The initial requirement was for a "concert room" holding an audience of 1,500 which would cost at least £4,000 (£340 thousand as of 2014).[3] Later that year the requirement was increased to a "new concert hall" to accommodate an audience of 2,100 and an orchestra of 250, plus "refreshment and retiring rooms". Subscribers were invited to both buy shares and to purchase seats along the sides of the hall.[4] The foundation stone was laid in 1846 and plans were made for Mendelssohn to write a cantata to be played in his presence at the opening of the hall. Mendelssohn did not live long enough to write the work.[5]

The first hall, 1849
Interior of the first hall, 1849

The hall cost £30,000 (£2.63 million as of 2014)[3] and was opened on 27 August 1849.[6] The Times correspondent reported that it was "one of the finest and best adapted to music that I ever entered".[7] The correspondent described the interior:

The orchestra, on each side of which is a canopied box for the use of the committee or the directors of the concert, is at the east end of the hall, recessed under an arch, filled to the extremities by the instrumental and choral phalanx of executants, disposed semicircularly, with numberless bronze music-stands, each surmounted by a lyre. It has a most imposing appearance. A large organ, of simple but classic design, backs the orchestra. The length of the body of the hall, without the orchestra, is about 104 feet; with the orchestra, about 150 feet. The breadth cannot fall short of 100 feet. The form of the room is oblong. The boxes, 65 in number, are disposed on each side of the hall, under the galleries, which in their turn are surmounted by the brilliant line of gas-burners .... The entire body of the hall is divided into comfortable stalls which leave plenty of room to sit at ease, and have all the accommodation of arm chairs. Three doors for ingress and egress are disposed at each side of the hall, and there are divided by windows, fitted with perforated zinc for the purpose of ventilation. Two immense eliptic arches on each side of the hall, spanning nearly the entire length of the body, inclose the boxes and galleries, and give them the appearance of being recessed. The galleries are sustained by gilded pillars, which front the boxes, with scroll ornaments for capitals. At the west end of the building, opposite the orchestra, there are two galleries, one above the other. The roof is covered, and the covers are of stucco, perforated; the centre is flat, but elaborately ornamented and relieved. The boxes are very elegantly fitted … The hall is lighted in day-time by four large windows, two on either side.[8]

A new organ was installed in the hall in 1930 at a cost of £2,000 (£110 thousand as of 2014).[3] The concert hall continued to be the home of the society until a fire broke out during the evening of 5 July 1933. The hall was damaged beyond repair.[9] It was insured and the insurers paid £84,000 (£5.05 million as of 2014)[3] for the hall itself, £9,503 (£570 thousand as of 2014)[3] for other assets, and £6,000 (£360 thousand as of 2014)[3] for the loss of two years' rental.[10]

Present hall[edit]

History[edit]

The building of a new hall was delayed by the demands of Liverpool City Corporation, which announced that it would not support the building of a venue suitable only as a concert hall. The corporation demanded an auditorium equally suited to cinema and theatre use. Controversy ensued with vocal opposition to the corporation's stance led by the doyen of British conductors, Sir Henry Wood. A compromise was reached and work began in June 1937.[11]

Herbert J. Rowse was commissioned to design a new hall on the site of the previous hall. Rowse's design was in Streamline Moderne style.[12] It incorporated an organ built by the Liverpool firm of Rushworth and Dreaper with a console which can be lowered from the stage.[13] The hall was officially opened on 19 June 1939, and inaugurated the next day with a concert conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.[14] The Manchester Guardian commented, "The magnificent compliment Liverpool has paid to the cause of music in England almost takes one's breath away ... a hall of great size, noble proportions, and up-to-date appointments ... ready to take its place among the most eminent homes of musical culture in this or any other country".[15] The final cost of the hall was a little over £120,000 (£6.3 million as of 2014)[3] and the architect was paid £6,869 (£360 thousand as of 2014).[3][16] An extension was added to the rear of the hall which was completed in 1992, designed by Brock Carmichael Associates.[17] A major refurbishment of the hall was carried out in 1995 at a cost of £10.3 million.[18] This included the complete replacement of the fibrous plaster interior with concrete, carried out again by Brock Carmichael, working with the acoustic consultant firm Lawrence Kirkegaard Associates.[17] Local violinist, John Frederick Clarke who was part of the famed RMS Titanic orchestra alongside the other band members who died during the ships 1912 sinking are all commemorated on a memorial plaque within Philharmonic Hall.[19]

Architecture[edit]

The hall is built with fawn-coloured facing bricks, and is mainly in three storeys. It has a symmetrical frontage with a canopied entrance flanked by semicircular stair turrets. Above the entrance are seven windows that are separated by piers surmounted by carved abstract motifs. Outside the hall and separated from it are two piers for the display of posters.[1] The architectural historians Pollard and Pevsner and the author of the description in the National Heritage List for England agree that the design of the hall was influenced by the Dutch architect W. M. Dudok.[1][17]

The windows above the canopy contain glass etched by Hector Whistler. Inside the entrance to the hall is a copper memorial to the musicians of the Titanic by J. A. Hodel, and on the landings are gilded reliefs of Apollo by Edmund C. Thompson.[17] The interior of the auditorium is "sensuously curved".[17] On the walls on each side are incised female figures in art deco style that represent "musical moods", also by Thompson. On the back wall above the platform is a kinetic structure, called Adagio, designed by Marianne Forrest in 1995.[17]

The hall contains an organ built by Rushworth and Dreaper, with a console on a lifting platform that can be played on the stage or from the area below the stage, and a Walturdaw rising cinema screen.[20]

Current use[edit]

The hall stages about 250 events each year, over 60 of which are concerts of classical music. The other shows include music of all genres, comedians, and films shown on the Walturdaw screen.[21] Tours of the hall are arranged,[22] and the hall can he hired for corporate or private events, including weddings.[23]

See also[edit]

Architecture of Liverpool

References[edit]

Citations

  1. ^ a b c English Heritage, "Philharmonic Hall (including detached poster piers to south west and north west), Liverpool (1279652)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 11 September 2013 
  2. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, pp. 21–23
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2013), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  4. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, p. 25
  5. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, pp. 26–28
  6. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, p. 29
  7. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, p. 30
  8. ^ "The Liverpool Musical Meeting", The Times, 29 August 1849, p. 5
  9. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, pp. 101–102
  10. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, p. 104
  11. ^ Peter 2007, pp. 77–78
  12. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, p. 109
  13. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, pp. 110–112
  14. ^ "Music at Liverpool", The Times, 20 June 1930, p. 12
  15. ^ "Tonight's orchestral test of the hall's acoustics", The Manchester Guardian, 20 June 1939, p. 12
  16. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, p. 110
  17. ^ a b c d e f Pollard & Pevsner 2006, pp. 371–372
  18. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, p. 187
  19. ^ Titanic connections with Liverpool, Encyclopedia Titanica, retrieved 9 May 2011 
  20. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, pp. 111–113
  21. ^ Henley & McKernan 2009, p. 200
  22. ^ The Phil Experience, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society, retrieved 10 December 2009 
  23. ^ Venue Hire, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society, retrieved 10 December 2009 

Sources

  • Henley, Darren; McKernan, Vincent (2009), The Original Liverpool Sound: The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, ISBN 978-1-84631-224-3 
  • Peter, Bruce (2007), Form Follows Fun: Modernism and Modernity in British Pleasure Architecture, London: Routledge, ISBN 0415428181 
  • Pollard, Richard; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2006), Lancashire: Liverpool and the South-West, The Buildings of England, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-10910-5 

External links[edit]