Sheffield Concerts Collection

Ref: PE 20

Title: Sheffield Concerts Collection

A collection of programmes, souvenirs, etc. for concerts held mostly in Sheffield between 1896 and 1984

Dates: 1896-1984
Level: Fonds
Extent: 1 box
Name of creator: Unknown

Administrative / biographical history:

The collection came to the Library from an unknown source, but it may have been put together by Arthur S. Burrows, conductor and chorus master, as it contains two letters written to him and many of the programmes include his name. The collection consists of programmes, prospectuses, fliers and other material relating to the Sheffield Musical Festival, the Sheffield Musical Union, the Sheffield Philharmonic Society and Concerts, the Victoria Hall Choral Society and City of Sheffield Music in the Parks, as well as items relating to other musical events in Sheffield and elsewhere.

Musical Festivals were held in Sheffield in the early 19th century, but they had lapsed until 1895 when some members of the St. Cecilia Musical Society called a meeting to discuss the possibility of reviving them. The first took place on October 10th 1895, as a single performance of Mendelssohn´s "Elijah", conducted by Dr. Henry Coward. Its success led to a second Festival in 1896, and the establishment of a triennial Musical Festival in Sheffield.

The Sheffield Musical Union chorus was set up in 1876 by Dr. Coward, and was particularly noted for its triumphant performance of Elgar´s "Dream of Gerontius" and Beethoven´s Ninth Symphony at the Queen´s Hall in London on April 9th 1904. Press reports suggested that "No choir that we know of can compete with the Sheffield singers in mastery over every effect that the most exacting critic could … expect from a choir". In 1908, the chorus took part in a tour of Canada and the United States, followed in 1911 by an even more ambitious six-month world tour, covering 34,000 miles and giving 134 concerts in Canada, The United States, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania and South Africa. Dr. Coward remained its conductor for 57 years, retiring in 1933.

The Sheffield Philharmonic Society was formed in 1935 to put on an annual series of concerts in the new Sheffield City Hall, many given by the Hallé Orchestra. The Sheffield Amateur Musical Society, established in 1864, was adopted as the resident chorus, and renamed itself the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus. In 1937, this merged with the Sheffield Musical Union to form a large choir of almost 400 members. After World War II, John Barbirolli became conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, and instigated a revival in its fortunes. The SPO was closely associated with both the conductor and the orchestra, and took part in concerts both in Sheffield and around the country to great acclaim.

(Notes compiled from the web page of the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus and from Souvenir of the Sheffield Musical Festivals of 1896, 1899, 1902… (Sheffield: Pawson & Brailsford, 1902), Professor Johann Kruse´s Second Musical Festival: April 1904 (Sheffield: Sheffield Musical Union, 1904) and The first ten years: being an account of the activities of the Sheffield Philharmonic Society since the date of its formation, 2nd August 1935 (Sheffield: the Society, 1945)

  • Related collections: Shera Manuscripts
  • Source: : Unknown. Accruals donated by Mrs. M.B. Richardson and Mr. Michael Smith (relating to his ancestor, Joseph Platts) in 2007, and by Dr. Sally Lane-Morgan in 2015 (collected by her mother, Jean Palmer, and uncle, Geoff Palmer), and by Alan and Hazel Cope in 2017.
  • System of arrangement: By category, and chronologically
  • Subjects: Music - Sheffield
  • Names: Sheffield Musical Festival; Sheffield Musical Union; Sheffield Philharmonic Society; Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus; Burrows, Arthur S.
  • Conditions of access: Available to all researchers, by appointment
  • Restrictions: None
  • Copyright: By document
  • Finding aids: Listed