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

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, or sim­ply vis­it any Cale­don Library branch in-world and press Play on your embed­ded music play­er.

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