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Albion Street Music Hall

The growing public demand for concerts eventually resulted in the opening, in January 1794, of the much larger Music Hall in Albion Street (capacity 850). At last, Leeds had a hall ideal for the performances of oratorios of Handel and (later) Felix Mendelssohn and others.

Oratorio is good for the health
The popularity of oratorio owed much to the beneficial influence it was perceived to have on the sick, particularly after the opening of the first Leeds Infirmary in 1771. Many performances were subsequently staged in the Music Hall as fundraisers for the Infirmary and its Victorian Gothic successor, which opened in Great George Street in 1864.

Renowned artists
Concerts were managed by the Leeds Choral and Recreation Societies and supported by subscription. The Music Hall attracted such renowned artistes as Henry Vieuxtemps, the French violinist; English soprano Adelaide Kemble; the Austrian pianist Sigismond Thalberg and the Italian virtuoso violinist and composer, Niccolo Paganini.

Programmes in a lighter vein
Programmes were frequently in a lighter vein and included operatic arias, piano solos, patriotic songs and popular ballads of the day, with such titles as 'Terence’s Farewell to Kathleen', 'England – Europe's Glory' and 'I'm a Merry Laughing Girl!'. An 1856 programme bill announced '…the sisters Sophie and Annie will give their celebrated mimic and musical entertainment entitled, 'Sketches from Nature’.

Madame Catalina and the best chorus singers
Madame Angelica Catalina, the first London Susanna in 'Le Nozze di Figaro' appeared in a concert of 'Messiah' excerpts and was the soloist in 'Rule Brittania' and 'God Save the King' on 7th January 1824. The programme announced that 'the best chorus singers are engaged and the orchestra will be full and complete in every department'.

Yorkshires's star soprano
Yorkshire’s very own star soprano, Brighouse-born Susannah Sunderland, notched up a number of operatic and oratorio appearances at the Music Hall in Haydn's 'The Creation', Handel's 'Judas Maccabeus', 'Acis and Galatea', selections from Mendelssohn's, 'Walpurgis Night' and his unfinished opera, 'Loreley' which received its first Leeds performance in 1854. Dr. William Spark conducted these and many other orchestral and choral 'People's concerts' at the Music Hall during the 1850s.

A Grand Concert
A 'Grand Concert' on 11th January 1855 included Haydn's oratorio 'The Seasons' and the overture and finale from Beethoven's opera 'Fidelio'.

Mendelssohn's unfinished oratorio 'Christus' received its first Leeds performance in 1857 given by a band and chorus of 120 performers selected from the West Riding Orchestral Union and Leeds Madrigal Society. The soloists were Mrs. Sunderland, Mr. Suchet and Mr. Weiss.

The German soprano Hermine Rudersdorff appeared with full band and chorus conducted by Dr. Spark in excerpts from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', arias by Verdi and Meterbeer and 'May Day', a new cantata by George Macfarren.
Click images to enlarge
Second Subscription Concert, 1807
Second Subscription Concert, 1807
Musical Union Concert, 1852
Musical Union Concert, 1852
Programme, 1852
Programme, 1852
Orchestra, 1852
Orchestra, 1852
Paganini at Leeds Music Hall, 1832
Paganini at Leeds Music Hall, 1832




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