Gentle Readers, Nicola Hyman, one of the authors of The Pump Room Orchestra, Three Centuries of Music and Social History, a book that she co-wrote with her musician husband, Robert, sent me this information about music in the Pump Room. The book is available at Hobnob Press in the UK.
The Pump Room Orchestra is believed to be the first resident band in the country to play in an assembly room in the early 1700s. The book chronicles the three hundred year old history of this Band, from its inception to today. Beau Nash founded the Band and, during his sojourn, his supremacy over its management was unequalled. However, over the decades municipal philistinism, wars, economic slumps and the appeal of (usually Italian), virtuosi in Bath threatened its almost unbroken continuity. Handel visited Bath in 1749 and collaborated with Thomas Chilcot whose support of the Pump Room Band leader, during one of its most intense conflicts, is explored in the book. Thomas Linley and William Herschel both played in the Band in the 1760s. Haydn enthused over the progress of the new Grand Pump Room built in 1795 where the present Trio play. The glamorous backdrop of eighteenth century Bath was underpinned by a climate of fierce rivalry and partisan affiliations among many musicians, many who struggled to survive.
Several fine German musicians were directors or members of the Pump Room Orchestra during the nineteenth century, including up to the Great War, the great grandfather of Bristol based composer Richard Barnard. Bath was now a more sober city, its appeal as a resort diminishing and the Corporation’s control of the Pump Room Orchestra a constant challenge. During bleak pre Great War years, Holst conducted the Orchestra for the first performance of his Somerset Rhapsody.
During the Spa hey day of the 1920s ‘cellist Gilhermina Suggia, contralto Edna Thornton , violinist Daniel Melsa, Arthur Rubenstein and Solomon are just a few of the well known guest soloists who played with the Orchestra. Sir Thomas Beecham conducted the Orchestra several times during this period. Elgar was another guest conductor. As Spa Director, John Hatton’s progressive style of marketing revived Bath as a tourist attraction. A thriving Pump Room Orchestra reflected the unique collaboration Hatton had with Jan Hurst, the Orchestra’s director.
In the late 1930s the Orchestra was directed by the distinguished Maurice Miles and concerts were regularly aired on the BBC. His predecessor, the brilliant and popular ‘showman’ Edward Dunn, had emigrated to South Africa. Dunn’s role as Durban’s Director of Music led him after the War to build up an International Arts League of Youth Festivals across South Africa. While, after the Second World War, the direction of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra were among Maurice Miles’s later roles.
However, it is the forgotten army of predominantly rank and file players in the Orchestra which is a central theme in the book. Many of these players were given solo roles and played in chamber ensembles in the Pump Room. Our research has divulged fascinating cameos, many tragic but many invested with astonishing devotion to music in the Pump Room and to Bath. One example was Lawrence Lackland who switched, at Lionel Tertis’ suggestion, to viola, and whose father was a violinist in St Helens under Thomas Beecham’s early orchestra.
A piano trio was the phoenix from the ashes of the Second World War, an unbroken legacy to this day. Now two violinists share the role dividing the 363 days of music in the Pump Room between them. All four members of the Trio are experienced, conservatoire trained musicians (RCM, RAM, RNCM, the Juilliard School).
People from all over Britain and the world come to the Pump Room. For many the visit is a regular pilgrimage, whether they be tourists or academics; their awe of the building enhanced by the music. Many writers, researchers and musicians have shared their expertise and knowledge in the development of this book. It is a departure from the many histories of Bath which are usually focussed on its architecture and archaeology. As such it covers unchartered territory – the people who played in the Pump Room. Trevor Fawcett, the eminent social historian and 18th century expert on Bath, has kindly helped with editing and other suggestions. The book will be marketed in Bath and other Spa towns in Britain as well as other independent book shops in this country and overseas. The publisher John Chandler (see http://www.hobnobpress.co.uk) will oversee distribution and contributes to on-line sales sites, such as Amazon. The book is eagerly awaited by the many contributors, either as a relative of an Orchestra member, regular visitor to the Pump Room, research contributor or musician.
© Nicola and Robert Hyman
To order The Pump Room Orchestra, Bath: Three Centuries of Music and Social History
US customers can order the book at Amazon.com at this link.
Please find attached the website http://www.hobnobpress.co.uk for an order form for those readers who would like to purchase The Pump Room Orchestra, Bath: Three Centuries of Music and Social History. Robert Hyman, (who studied at the Juilliard School, New York) is a violinist in the Pump Room Trio in Bath. Together he and his wife Nicola have researched and written this history. The book has a Foreward by Tom Conti. Colour plates include a photo ‘Leaving the Pump Room’ of ladies dressed in costume for the annual Jane Austen Festival. Two chapters in the book explore music in the Pump Room when Austen first visited Bath. They are ‘When Jane Austen Came to Bath’ and ‘After Rauzzini’. There is also a chapter called Screen and Stage which chronicles movies filmed in and around the Pump Room; actors who visit or have visited the Pump Room, some because they are performing at the Theatre Royal in Bath, and also TV productions of Jane Austen’s novels, where many of the scenes were filmed in the Pump Room. UK customers can order the book directly from the publisher.
November 2011, 214 pages + 8 pages of colour, £14.95. ISBN 978-0-946418-74-9.