From the Library… Queen’s Hall and the Sounds of London

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Wednesday, 6 February, 2008

The jazz bands and celebrations of Carnival fade away down the street – we can still hear them from time to time in the distance, along with the sound of the fairground organs playing old, familiar tunes – and in and around the Queen’s Hall in London, life returns to normal.

As we stand before this impressive building in the heart of London’s West End we hear the sounds of the city around us: organ grinders, the songs of street sellers, popular melodies echoing through the doors of the Music Hall down the road; and many, many voices. Inside, there is music too: this fine Hall was the home of Mr Henry Wood’s Promenade Concerts from 1893 until it was destroyed in the Blitz in 1941. We can hear the strains of a Strauss waltz, perhaps, or an overture by Sir Edward Sullivan from the famous light operas he has written with Mr Gilbert.

And also, we hear a different kind of music: what has come to be called “Light Music”, written by quintessential English composers of the first half of the 20th Century – names like Eric Coates and Robert Farnon. Here in Langham Place, the Hall resounds with the strains of the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra and Sydney Torch. Just down the street from here a great new enterprise is being built: one which will take Mr Marconi’s wireless invention and uses it to broadcast music and voices around the country, and around the world, educating, entertaining and informing under the watchful eyes of its first Director General, Sir John Reith. And indeed, the BBC will use compositions like these as theme tunes for drama series and other programmes that will become required listening every evening in homes across Britain.

From the Library is produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with the Caledon Library in Second Life; the rest of the week’s programmes feature music from the library of Elrik Merlin.

For more information on the Caledon Library, current exhibits and the work of Second Life reference libraries in general, please visit the Caledon Library Web site, or one of their locations in-world. Listen to the program now at http://music.radioriel.org, or simply visit any Caledon Library branch in-world and press Play on your embedded music player.

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