Wednesday 20 November 2013

Dame Myra Hess Day

Dame Myra Hess at the National Gallery
This Friday, besides being St. Cecilia's Day and the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Britten's birth, is also Dame Myra Hess Day at the National Gallery. The day celebrates the achievement of the pianist Dame Myra Hess in putting on a series of concerts at the National Gallery every day of the week throughout the Second World War. The first concert took place 10 October 1939, a piano recital from Myra Hess "in case the whole thing is a flop". On Friday, there is the chance to hear Piers Lane recreating the recital, there is a talk on music during the Second World War and and evening concert from the Endellion String Quartet.

Lane's lunchtime recital is a substantial programme of music by Bach, Scarlatti, Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin. In the afternoon there is a free talk from Patrick Bade based on his book 'Music Wars 1937-1945'. In the evening the Endellion String Quartet is joined by David Adams for performances of Mozart's String Quintet in C minor and Beethoven's String Quintet in C Op.29.

Queue outside the National Gallery for one of Myra Hess's concerts.
The concerts stopped at the end of the war, as far as the trustees were concerned the huge queue of people was a nuisance and the chairs needed cluttered the galleries and prevented people from seeing the art. Also, they felt that the people who came, came for the music rather than the pictures. Further information on Myra Hess's concerts at the National Gallery from the gallery's website.

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