In 1999 Glasgow was designated ‘European City of Architecture’. 1999 was also a notable year in connection with two internationally-renowned creative artists: the 150th anniversary of the death of the Polish composer and pianist, Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), and the 250th anniversary of the birth of the German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832).
Exceptionally significant for Glasgow was that on 27th September 1849, shortly before his death, Chopin gave a recital at the Merchants Hall in Hutcheson Street.
Music-Makers highlighted these important cultural links with two series of concerts at the Hutchesons’ Hall, which stands in Ingram Street, facing Hutcheson Street. A distinctive feature of Glasgow’s architectural heritage, the building was completed in 1805 to a design by David Hamilton, the ‘founding father of Glasgow architecture’.
The Hall is also one of the most elegant buildings in the city centre and its richly ornamented interior provided an appropriate ambience for these concerts.
The first series celebrated the music of Chopin. Between January and June, Gusztáv Fenyő gave seven recitals in which he performed the entire solo piano works of Chopin. These recitals, together with a comprehensive programme book, offered music-lovers a deeper appreciation of this unique composer’s creative output.
One of Scotland’s leading pianists, Gusztáv Fenyő received high acclaim for his cycles of Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas which he performed in 1990 in Glasgow, during the city’s reign as European City of Culture, and Edinburgh.
For the second series, in November, Music-Makers collaborated with the Goethe-Institut for a pair of song recitals marking the anniversary of Germany’s greatest poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The concerts featured both singers and reciters.
The Goethe-Institut generously provided their Steinway grand piano for both series.
Hutchesons’ Hall originally served as a hospice for elderly men and an orphanage for boys. Thanks to generous endowments from George and Thomas Hutcheson, the first Hutchesons’ Hospital was erected at the Trongate in 1660. Following its demolition in 1795, the patrons purchased the present site on Ingram Street. In 1802 they commissioned the young Scottish architect, David Hamilton, to design a new hospital building.A major reconstruction in 1876 by John Baird heightened the Hall to its present proportions and provided an impressive staircase.
The National Trust for Scotland acquired the premises in 1982 and, in 1987, completely restored the Grand Hall where the recitals took place. The Hall was also regularly used by the University of Strathclyde for its lunchtime concert series.
The building suffered water damage in 2008 and was subsequently sold. After major refurbishment, which has preserved the building’s grandeur and lavish interiors, the building re-opened in 2014 as a restaurant.
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