Etude No.8 Philip Glass
Home to Classic FM's Orchestra in North-West England - the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic - Liverpool Philharmonic Hall has its own fascinating history as well as plans for the future.
Commissioned in 1844, the original Philharmonic Hall was designed to seat an audience of 2,100 and an orchestra of 250. The foundation stone was laid in 1846 and construction began the following year. Felix Mendelssohn was invited to compose a cantata for the hall's opening but he died before he could finish the job.
The original Philharmonic Hall formally opened on 27 August 1849 with a concert performed by an orchestra of 96 and a choir of more than 200. The hall was not full for the first performance. This was attributed to two factors: the high cost of tickets, and a fear that the building, without central supporting pillars, was unsafe.
The original hall cost £30,000 - that's £2.63 million in today's money. After opening night, a correspondent for The Times reported that it was 'one of the finest and best adapted to music that I ever entered'.
On 5 July 1933, smoke was seen pouring from the roof of the Philharmonic Hall. Firemen battled valiantly, but the combination of fierce heat, rapidly advancing flames and thick smoke was too much for them. The organ - which had been installed three years earlier at a cost of £2,000 - and many of the orchestra’s instruments were completely destroyed.
Local architect Herbert J. Rowse was commissioned to design a new hall on the site of the previous one. His Art Deco design incorporated an organ built by the Liverpool firm of Rushworth and Dreaper with a console which can be lowered from the stage. The final cost of the hall was some £120,000 - £6.3 million in today's money.
The new hall was officially opened on 19 June 1939, and inaugurated the next day with a concert conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham. The Guardian newspaper wrote, 'The magnificent compliment Liverpool has paid to the cause of music in England almost takes one's breath away ... a hall of great size, noble proportions, and up-to-date appointments ... ready to take its place among the most eminent homes of musical culture in this or any other country.'
A major new refurbishment project is about to begin to take the Philharmonic Hall into the future. A campaign has been launched to raise the final £1m towards the £12m that will dramatically transform Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and create the foundations on which the future of music in Liverpool will be built.
As part of the major refurbishment, a new intimate performance space is being built where the world's best new music and new artists will be showcased. This artist's impression shows a proposed Sugnall Street entrance to the new performance space.
The refurbishment when complete promises a difference from the moment visitors step inside the building. It will be completely renewed, much lighter and more inviting.
The refurbishment of Philharmonic Hall includes significant improvements to front of house areas and facilities for all visitors and participants including the foyer, box office, bars and catering, toilets and lift access to all levels of the building.