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Saturday Night is Orchestral Night

One thing has not changed: Saturday night is still orchestral night in Leeds, a century after Dr Fricker's trail blazing concerts began the tradition.

Ernest Bradbury, chief music critic of the Yorkshire Post from 1948-1984, explained this tradition in an article in the Yorkshire Post on 21st March 1973. 'Orchestral music on Saturdays was begun in Leeds in the autumn of 1903 and Saturday has been orchestral night ever since, though passing through many changes and vicissitudes.

I have often been asked by my colleagues on other newspapers how it is that Leeds has its main orchestral fare on Saturday night (Manchester for instance goes mainly for Thursdays as does Birmingham: in Liverpool it is Tuesday). The answer is I think to be found in this particular tradition. For those first concerts known as the Municipal Concerts and initiated by Herbert Fricker, then City Organist, were given by some 50 professional musicians later increased to 60. Fricker doubtless found Saturday afternoon the best time for meeting together for rehearsal.

It has been said that the Education Committee was interested in the scheme, but the fact seems to be that Fricker received no direct subsidy from public money and received no fee as a conductor other than his stipend as Town Hall organist. But he did give his organ recitals on Saturday nights so that when he inserted an orchestral programme instead, there was no additional expense for the hall lighting, heating and so on. Only a small charge was made for admission; yet this almost sufficed to maintain the concerts for several years'.
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Saturday concert in the evening again after the war
Saturday concert in the evening again after the war
Concert programme, 1974
Concert programme, 1974

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© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003