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Around the Town Centre

Point H - Recital by Frederick Chopin

Walking Route Instructions : Look for the building on Hutcheson Street that faces down Garth Road.

Frédéric François Chopin (born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin; 1810 – 1849), the Polish composer and virtuoso pianist, played a concert in 1848 in the Merchants’ Hall – which is situated on the junction of Hutcheson Street and Garth Street.

Chopin played a concert in what was the Merchants Hall, 1848

The date was September 27, and anyone who was anybody was there. The cream of West of Scotland society and the aristocracy turned out for the occasion, including the Duchess of Argyll, countless countesses, lords, ladies, and baronesses. The occasion was extremely well-documented. Diarists, commentators, and all the papers were there. The Herald recorded the nineteenth-century equivalent of a city-centre traffic jam as the ”large concourse of carriages began to draw up in Hutcheson Street and the streets adjoining”. 

The organiser of the concert – John Muir Wood – was told that “so many private carriages had never been seen at any concert in the town”.


Part 1

Chopin: Andante,

Berceuse: Mazourkas

Guglielmi Romanza: “La Camelia” 

Barcaruola: “La notte – bella” Chopin Nocturnes et Impromptu 

Part 2

Chopin: Ballade et Nocturnes 

Niedermeyer: Mélodie et Romance: “Le Lac” – Meditation poetique de Lamartine 

Chopin: Valses, Prelude, Etude

I have copied below the review of the concert from the Glasgow Herald of 1848!

Standing on Hutcheson Street, you can imagine the carriages queuing up and the excitement of hearing the great pianist playing in Glasgow ! The Merchants Hall was built in 1843 on Hutcheson Street and the building can be seen on this Google Maps view: 1 Garth St – Google Maps

Read Review of Concert – Glasgow Herald Sept 29th 1848

On Wednesday, M Chopin, the great French pianist, gave a matinee musical in the Merchants’ Hall, under the patronage of the most distinguished ladies of the nobility and gentry of the West of Scotland. At half-past two PM when the concert was to commence, a large concourse of carriages began to draw up in Hutcheson Street and the streets adjoining. The audience, which was not large, was exceedingly distinguished.

Of M. Chopin’s performances, and of the style of his compositions, it is not easy to speak so as to be intelligible to unscientific musicians. His style is unique, and his compositions are very frequently unintelligible from the strange and novel harmonies he introduces. In the pieces he gave on Wednesday, we were particularly struck with the eccentric and original manner in which he chose to adorn the subject. He frequently took for a theme a few notes which were little else than the common notes of the scale. Those who were present at the entertainment would observe this in the Nocturnes et Bercruse (spelling is my fault there…) This simple theme ran through the whole piece, and he heaped on it the strangest series of harmonies, discords, and modulations that can well be imagined. Again, in another subject, one single note of the key was heard with its monotonous pulsations moving through just as peculiar a series of musical embellishments. One thing must have been apparent to every one of the audience, namely, the melancholy and plaintive sentiment which pervaded his music. Indeed, if we would chose to characterise his pieces in three words, we would call them novel, pathetic, and difficult to be understood. M. Chopin is evidently a man of weak constitution, and seems labouring under physical debility and ill health. Perhaps his constitutional delicacy may account for the fact that his musical compositions have all that melancholy sentiment which we have spoken of. We incline to the belief that this master’s compositions will always have a far greater charm when heard en famille, than in the concert-room; at the same time we know that they possess certain technical peculiarities, which must render them sealed treasures to by far the greatest number of amateur piano-forte performers.

Madame Adelasio, who sang three pleasing little vocal compositions – one by Niedermeyer and two by Gugliaimo- showed much vocal ability. But she evinced a certain lack of enthusiasm, with which we were not at all charmed. This was her first public appearance in Glasgow, probably, and we believe, she will gain in public (hard to read the next bit…) admiration the oftener she is heard???

Ref: Glasgow Herald (Page 2, bottom of Column 4)

Walking Route Instructions : Now walk down Garth Road to Glassford Street and our next stop, the Trades Hall is facing you.