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Queen's Hall v Alexandra Palace


Colin Richell
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After some years I decided to listen again to the CD entitled "BACH THE ART OF MARCEL DUPRE, which I used to sell at the Ally pally organ concerts (I still have plenty of copies left) and perhaps I am biased but I found the Queen's Hall organ very dull with poor acoustics. in the venue.

I was listening to the CD in my car so I could not look on the label to see when the QH recordings had finished, but it was so obvious what a fine organ Ally Pally owned, when you heard it again with such wonderful acoustics much of which were lost with the rebuild of the Great Hall and it was tragic to think that this instrument was allowed to remain silent for so many years.

Does anyone hold the same views about the Queen's Hall and did anyone visit the Hall before Mr Hitler destroyed it ?

Which Company built the QH organ ?

Colin Richell.

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After some years I decided to listen again to the CD entitled "BACH THE ART OF MARCEL DUPRE, which I used to sell at the Ally pally organ concerts (I still have plenty of copies left) and perhaps I am biased but I found the Queen's Hall organ very dull with poor acoustics. in the venue.

I was listening to the CD in my car so I could not look on the label to see when the QH recordings had finished, but it was so obvious what a fine organ Ally Pally owned, when you heard it again with such wonderful acoustics much of which were lost with the rebuild of the Great Hall and it was tragic to think that this instrument was allowed to remain silent for so many years.

Does anyone hold the same views about the Queen's Hall and did anyone visit the Hall before Mr Hitler destroyed it ?

Which Company built the QH organ ?

Colin Richell.

QH organ built by Hill in 1893 (last one supervised by Thomas Hill) & rebuilt HN&B 1923

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After some years I decided to listen again to the CD entitled "BACH THE ART OF MARCEL DUPRE, which I used to sell at the Ally pally organ concerts (I still have plenty of copies left) and perhaps I am biased but I found the Queen's Hall organ very dull with poor acoustics. in the venue.

I was listening to the CD in my car so I could not look on the label to see when the QH recordings had finished, but it was so obvious what a fine organ Ally Pally owned, when you heard it again with such wonderful acoustics much of which were lost with the rebuild of the Great Hall and it was tragic to think that this instrument was allowed to remain silent for so many years.

Does anyone hold the same views about the Queen's Hall and did anyone visit the Hall before Mr Hitler destroyed it ?

Which Company built the QH organ ?

Colin Richell.

 

==================

 

 

Slightly off at a tangent, I can tell you something interesting about the Queen's Hall organ, because the death of an organist almost occured there.

 

The late Ena Baga (well known as a theatre organist/silent film accompanist), had just left the building after playing the organ when the bomb fell, destroying the hall and the organ.

 

Unfortunately no longer with us to verify the story, I seem to recall Ena saying that the bomb actually hit the console.

 

MM

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Slightly off at a tangent, I can tell you something interesting about the Queen's Hall organ, because the death of an organist almost occured there.

 

The late Ena Baga (well known as a theatre organist/silent film accompanist), had just left the building after playing the organ when the bomb fell, destroying the hall and the organ.

 

Unfortunately no longer with us to verify the story, I seem to recall Ena saying that the bomb actually hit the console.

 

MM

(Continuing the tangent) There's a story of a then famous bassonist, possibly its dedicatee Edwin James, playing the Elgar Romance in the Queens Hall during the Blitz. After the piece had started the sirens rang out and the hall was evacuated but the bassoonist continued until the end.

 

Also I was told that some orchestral musicians had left their instruments in the hall overnight when it was bombed and some of the valuable old string instruments were found, unglued from the heat, floating amid the water from the firefighters' hoses, and repaired. Maybe some of these stories need to be tagged apocryphal.

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(Continuing the tangent) There's a story of a then famous bassonist, possibly its dedicatee Edwin James, playing the Elgar Romance in the Queens Hall during the Blitz. After the piece had started the sirens rang out and the hall was evacuated but the bassoonist continued until the end.

 

Also I was told that some orchestral musicians had left their instruments in the hall overnight when it was bombed and some of the valuable old string instruments were found, unglued from the heat, floating amid the water from the firefighters' hoses, and repaired. Maybe some of these stories need to be tagged apocryphal.

 

=======================

 

I can only relate what Ena told me, but unfortunately, she's no longer with us to verify it or otherwise. She seemed fairly serious about it at the time.

 

MM`

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=======================

 

I can only relate what Ena told me, but unfortunately, she's no longer with us to verify it or otherwise. She seemed fairly serious about it at the time.

 

MM`

 

 

====================

 

I'm just beginning to doubt myself. I wonder if it wasn't St George's Hall, which became the Haymarket Theatre?

 

That was certainly destroyed by an air-raid in 1941, and definitely contained an organ.

 

Interestingly, one of the acts to appear there regularly, went by the name of Mr & Mrs German Reeds!!! :lol:

 

MM

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=======================

 

I can only relate what Ena told me, but unfortunately, she's no longer with us to verify it or otherwise. She seemed fairly serious about it at the time.

 

MM`

I'm sorry, MM, I didn't want to cast any doubt on your story!

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I'm just beginning to doubt myself. I wonder if it wasn't St George's Hall, which became the Haymarket Theatre?

 

That was certainly destroyed by an air-raid in 1941, and definitely contained an organ.

 

Interestingly, one of the acts to appear there regularly, went by the name of Mr & Mrs German Reeds!!! :lol:

 

MM

 

 

It was indeed St. George's Hall, which had previously been the Maskelyne and Devant theatre (dedicated to the owners' illusionist shows) but had been taken over by the BBC as a light entertainment studio. The auditorium adjoined that of the Queen's Hall.

 

In 1936 a four manual twenty-three unit Compton theatre organ was installed there as the first BBC Theatre Organ, making broadcasts easier when the vast majority were live and couldn't quite so easily take place in the afternoon or evening without disrupting cinema programmes if done on location. Reginald Foort FRCO was the first staff BBC theatre organist, followed in 1938 by Roderick Hallowell (Sandy) MacPherson.

 

In 1940 the BBC Variety Department was evacutaed to Bristol, and later to Llandudno, but Sandy was initially transferred to the BBC's wartime control centre at Wood Norton near Evesham. Here an early Hammond organ was installed with an echo chamber, and it was extensively broadcast by Sandy and Fredric Curzon among others during the early part of the war. Guest organists were still appearing at the Compton, and Ena Baga was scheduled to broadcast on it the morning following the air raid. She had been rehearsing in the hall in the evening, and - when the sirens went off - made her way to the air raid shelter in the basement of Broadcasting House where she remained all night during one of the worst raids.

 

During the raid St. George's Hall received a direct from a huge oil bomb. The only parts of the organ supposedly recogniseable in the wreckage were the tubular chrome frame of the bench and the iron frame of the Marshall & Rose grand piano playable from the console.

 

The supreme irony was that Ena Baga's signature tune was the Jerome Kern melody "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"..... :D

 

S

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It was indeed St. George's Hall, which had previously been the Maskelyne and Devant theatre (dedicated to the owners' illusionist shows) but had been taken over by the BBC as a light entertainment studio. The auditorium adjoined that of the Queen's Hall.

 

In 1936 a four manual twenty-three unit Compton theatre organ was installed there as the first BBC Theatre Organ, making broadcasts easier when the vast majority were live and couldn't quite so easily take place in the afternoon or evening without disrupting cinema programmes if done on location. Reginald Foort FRCO was the first staff BBC theatre organist, followed in 1938 by Roderick Hallowell (Sandy) MacPherson.

 

In 1940 the BBC Variety Department was evacutaed to Bristol, and later to Llandudno, but Sandy was initially transferred to the BBC's wartime control centre at Wood Norton near Evesham. Here an early Hammond organ was installed with an echo chamber, and it was extensively broadcast by Sandy and Fredric Curzon among others during the early part of the war. Guest organists were still appearing at the Compton, and Ena Baga was scheduled to broadcast on it the morning following the air raid. She had been rehearsing in the hall in the evening, and - when the sirens went off - made her way to the air raid shelter in the basement of Broadcasting House where she remained all night during one of the worst raids.

 

During the raid St. George's Hall received a direct from a huge oil bomb. The only parts of the organ supposedly recogniseable in the wreckage were the tubular chrome frame of the bench and the iron frame of the Marshall & Rose grand piano playable from the console.

 

The supreme irony was that Ena Baga's signature tune was the Jerome Kern melody "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"..... :)

 

S

 

====================

 

 

Thank you for the correct information Stephen, which, (if I had cared to root among my shelves), I would doubtless have discovered contained in my copy of Ena's fascinating, (signed) biography written by the late Tony Moss.

 

It serves me right for being sloppy and idle!

 

MM

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