THE NATIONAL GALLERY REMEMBERS MYRA HESS AND THE BLITZ
Dame Myra Hess was famous for initiating the renowned wartime concert series held in the National Gallery, London. The first was held on October 10th 1939. You may read about Myra on the National Gallery website.
For information and biography of Myra Hess:
In order to commemorate the first concert 78 years ago this Foundation gave a Bluthner pianoforte to the Gallery to promote a concert series. The Foundation felt that the first memorial concert should be performed by a prominent lady pianist and so Patrick Matthiesen invited the participation of the leading such pianist in the UK – Imogen Cooper who very graciously accepted. The concert programme containing works by Haydn and Beethoven will be performed at 1pm on Tuesday October 10th.
From the National Gallery flyer:
‘This concert is dedicated to Dame Myra Hess who, against insurmountable odds, arranged concerts in the National Gallery every day of the week throughout the Second World War.
The first concert took place at the National Gallery on 10 October 1939. Dame Myra Hess and her team had only a few weeks to make the arrangements and busied themselves booking performers, equipping the venue and organising publicity.
Director, Kenneth Clark, began by winning the blessing of the Gallery’s trustees for the project, he then turned his attention to convincing the Home Office and Ministry of Works to grant the concerts dispensation from the ban on public gatherings. ‘’The sooner we can start the better’’, he wrote, ‘’As this is the period when people are beginning to feel the want of nourishment for mind and spirit and it would be a great thing for the National Gallery to give a lead’’.
The concert of 20 February 1941 featured the singer Lisa Perli, Howard Ferguson, Sidney Griller and Colin Hampton from the Griller Quartet, and Ivor Newton.
Today’s concert programme celebrating Dame Myra Hess’s legacy is:
7 Bagatelles op 33 (20’) Beethoven
Sonata in C minor Hob. XVI/20. (22’) Haydn
Sonata in A flat major op 110 (20’) Beethoven’
Myra Hess organised over 1000 concerts which took place daily from October 1943 until the Spring of 1946, an incredible achievement.