The Hallé gave its first concert on 30 January 1858 under the baton of its founder Sir Charles Hallé.
Until his death in 1895, Sir Charles conducted almost every concert and performed as piano soloist at many. His sudden death shocked Manchester and the wider musical world, with his funeral procession bringing the city to a standstill. Three of his closest friends immediately set about securing the future of the Orchestra. The 1895-96 season had already been planned and so Henry Simon, Gustav Behrens and James Forsyth guaranteed it against loss. They renewed this commitment for a further three years whilst they set about forming and incorporating the Hallé Concerts Society. Under the guidance of such distinguished conductors as Hans Richter, Sir Hamilton Harty and Sir John Barbirolli the Orchestra continued to thrive and develop.
For the vast majority of its history, the Hallé’s home in Manchester was the Free Trade Hall. When war broke out in 1939 the building was requisitioned and, of course, bombed in the Manchester Blitz. During the war period the Hallé performed concert series in the Albert Hall and Kings Hall Belle Vue, as well in various other venues in and around Manchester including a variety of cinemas. The Free Trade Hall was rebuilt, opening with a triumphant season of concerts in 1951. The Hallé performed its last concert there on 30th June 1996 before moving into its magnificent new home just a few minutes’ walk away at The Bridgewater Hall.
Hallé Concerts Society
The Hallé Concerts Society was formally incorporated on 28 June 1899, although plans for its formation had been formed almost immediately after Sir Charles Halle died in 1895. A properly constituted body of guarantors was seen as the best way of securing the future of the Hallé Concerts and the Orchestra. Originally there were 50 members, including the then Lord Mayor, Alderman Gibson, the four local MPs, who included Prime Minister Balfour, three members of the Forsyth and Behrens families and Miss Gaskell, daughter of the author. The Society elected a Committee of Management, later the Executive Committee and eventually the Board. The first members were E J Broadfield, Chairman; Adolph Brodsky, Henry Simon, James Forsyth & Gustav Behrens. J Aikman Forsyth was the Hon. Secretary.
The Hallé archive consists of a number of distinct collections and is a wonderful resource for aspects of our musical history. The largest of these is the records of the Hallé Concerts Society, but there are also private collections including the Richter Archive, as well a complete collection of concert programmes for the Manchester series from 1858, a photographic and sound archive.