Please support Classical Kids today

For the next generation of classical music lovers
Donate

Please give some bucks for Bach

Support all your favorite composers, classic and contemporary
Donate

Support our mission of sharing classical music

Iconic performances, because of the music written for them
Donate

Please support our Bach bash

Support Pipedreams as we honor and carry on the legacy of Bach
Donate

Support premier symphony orchestras at home

Help us celebrate the works of composers, old and new, by donating today
Donate

Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Tuesday, February 25

Opening of Royal Albert Hall

Synopsis

In London on today’s date in 1871 an audience gathered in the newly-finished Royal Albert Hall to attend the first-ever concert to be performed there. This occurred a month BEFORE the official opening of this famous Victorian edifice as a special thank-you for the workers who constructed the building.

The orchestra that played that concert was famous in its day – though now totally forgotten. It was called The Wandering Minstrels and its players were all British aristocrats – Lords, Right Honourables, and senior military – who from 1861 to 1896 played exclusively for charity events. One strict rule of membership was that only AMATEUR musicians were allowed. If you earned even one penny as a professional, you were out.

That happened to one member, the composer Frederick Clay, who had to leave The Wandering Minstrels when music he wrote for the stage started to pull in a few pennies. Clay even collaborated with W.S. Gilbert, the famous librettist for Sir Arthur Sullivan, who himself occasionally performed as a guest with The Wandering Minstrels.

And yes, it’s likely that the Gilbert & Sullivan song “A Wandering Minstrel I” from “The Mikado” was an in-joke reference to the aristocratic orchestra, especially since Nanki-Poo, who sings it, was (after all) a nobleman in disguise.

Music Played in Today's Program

W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911) & Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) "A Wand'ring Minstrel I," fr "The Mikado" D'Oyly Carte Opera Company; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Royston Nash, cond. London/Decca 425190

Additional Information

{"airdates":[{"id":27807,"date":"2020-02-25","listen":"apm-audio:/composers_datebook/2020/02/25/datebook_20200225_128.mp3","updated_at":"2020-01-16T22:38:09.000Z","episode":{"id":9407,"synopsis":"Opening of Royal Albert Hall","additional":"","body":"In London on today’s date in 1871 an audience gathered in the newly-finished Royal Albert Hall to attend the first-ever concert to be performed there. This occurred a month BEFORE the official opening of this famous Victorian edifice as a special thank-you for the workers who constructed the building.\r\n\r\nThe orchestra that played that concert was famous in its day – though now totally forgotten. It was called The Wandering Minstrels and its players were all British aristocrats – Lords, Right Honourables, and senior military – who from 1861 to 1896 played exclusively for charity events. One strict rule of membership was that only AMATEUR musicians were allowed. If you earned even one penny as a professional, you were out.\r\n\r\nThat happened to one member, the composer Frederick Clay, who had to leave The Wandering Minstrels when music he wrote for the stage started to pull in a few pennies. Clay even collaborated with W.S. Gilbert, the famous librettist for Sir Arthur Sullivan, who himself occasionally performed as a guest with The Wandering Minstrels.\r\n\r\nAnd yes, it’s likely that the Gilbert \u0026 Sullivan song “A Wandering Minstrel I” from “The Mikado” was an in-joke reference to the aristocratic orchestra, especially since Nanki-Poo, who sings it, was (after all) a nobleman in disguise.\r\n","playdate":"1972-02-25","pieces":[{"composer":"W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911) \u0026 Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)","title":"\"A Wand'ring Minstrel I,\" fr \"The Mikado\"","performer":"D'Oyly Carte Opera Company; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Royston Nash, cond. ","catalog":"London/Decca 425190 "}],"links":[{"title":"On Gilbert and Sullivan","href":"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_and_Sullivan"}],"airdates":[{"id":27807,"date":"2020-02-25","listen":"apm-audio:/composers_datebook/2020/02/25/datebook_20200225_128.mp3"}]}}],"meta":{"start_date":"2020-02-25","end_date":"2020-02-25"}}

Before you go...

Each day, John gladly shares his passion for music with you. The knowledge that he offers, and the stories he shares through Composers Datebook is made possible with your support. Please, take 2 minutes and make a gift today for your 2 minutes of daily music knowledge.