Nottingham, England: 1891-96.
Hardcover. Large folio. Measuring 20” x 23½”. Bound by C & J Abbott in green morocco over beveled boards, stamped in gold on both boards, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. An extraordinary album of color plates, each leaf custom designed to frame a concert program together with the Signatures and mounted albumen photographs of the leading musicians and singers, including the renowned violinists Joseph Joachim and Wilma Neruda, and pianist Charles Hallé, founder of the Hallé orchestra in 1857, Britain’s first fully professional symphony orchestra. Scattered small tears and some scuffing at the edges of the boards, the head of the spine back is bumped with some tearing, horizontal stain at the bottom of both boards, modest foxing at the blank guard sheets and some light soiling at the endpapers on a few of the plates at the front, overall near fine.
The album features numerous autographs and accompanying photographs of Joachim, Neruda, and Hallé, dating from their chamber music performances given at Nottingham, together with numerous other autographs and photographs of leading musicians and singers who were associated with Joachim and the Hallé orchestra, including the cellist Carl Fuchs, and violinist Willy Hess, a student of Joachim's and the concertmaster of the Hallé orchestra and later the Boston Symphony.
The album contains 25 mixed-media plates, including tinted and color lithography, hand-coloring and hand-painting; together with letterpress, color lithographic lettering, and hand painted calligraphic lettering. The plates are numbered 1-26, each one created for a specific chamber music concert performance, and for choral and operatic works, including Arthur Sullivan’s cantata *The Golden Legend*, that were performed from 1891-96. Plate number 24 was not completed (consisting of the autographs only), and four plates appear to lack one or two autographs (as indicated by small empty spaces in the design that were intended for an autograph).
The series of “Popular Classical Concerts” at Nottingham was established in 1891 by William Allen, owner of William Allen & Company: “Paper merchants, Pasteboard and Fancy Box manufacturers.” It appears likely that Allen was also the artist who designed the plates, as indicated by the monogram “WA.” The plates feature various bold floral designs that combine then popular Japanese themes with art nouveau moments.
A remarkable and strikingly original album, documenting the performances for a popular audience of classical music, including several contemporary works, by Europe’s leading musicians and composers.