Gramophone Concert in Manchester

Gramophone concert
       "Gramophone Concert" in Heaton Park September 1909 in Manchester.

The following is an extract from an article from 2005 written on the homepage of the BBC Manchester (you can read the full article here).

40,000 in Heaton Park

If you took your stereo down to Heaton Park, how many people would turn up to listen? Almost a century before the BBC Proms in The Park, a Manchester gramophone salesman drew a crowd of 40,000 - playing his record collection!

The tradition [the BBC Proms] was started early last century by William Grimshaw from Prestwich. Grimshaw originally sold bicycles from his shop on Bury New Rd but expanded his trade to include the new invention of the day – the gramophone.

In 1909, William Grimshaw listened to the great Italian tenor Enrico Caruso perform at the Free Trade Hall. He wanted to share this experience with the ordinary people of Manchester so, a few days later, he took his gramophone to Heaton Park and played recordings of Caruso to an assembled crowd of 40,000 people!

Local papers such as the Manchester Evening Chronicle and the Crumpsall Guardian reported that the trams from Manchester and Bury were unable to cope with the huge numbers of concert-goers.

An extract from the Sound Wave and Talking Machine Record, printed in December 1909 reports the occasion as follows:

Caruso Cartoon

“In the course of his tour of the provinces, Signor Caruso’s engagements took him to Manchester on September 13 and with his usual enterprise, Mr Grimshaw gave a Gramophone concert in Heaton Park on the following Sunday embracing all the items sung by Caruso… A vast crowd, estimated to number at least 40,000 assembled to hear the Gramophone.”

Caruso himself wrote to Mr Grimshaw expressing his thanks and appreciation of the way his voice had been reproduced. He even sent Grimshaw a signed cartoon of himself!

Photographs show crowds dressed formally in Edwardian suits and dresses, wearing caps and hats all listening attentively. Indeed, in the words of the Prestwich and Heaton Park Guardian…

“… they remained as if spellbound from the moment of arrival to the close of the programme, which, it is hardly necessary to say, was intensely enjoyed.”

Click above to listen to:
"Over There"
(Song in English - Cohan, George)
• Recorded 11-07-1918 •
More information here

Random Quote (view all here)

Henry Pleasants (renowned American music critic):

2 centuries ago, Tosi wrote; "Oh, how great a master is the heart! Confess it my beloved singers, and gratefully own that you would not have arrived at the highest rank if you had not been its scholars. Own that in a few lessons from it, you learned the most beautiful expressions. Own, that heart corrects the defects of nature, - softens a harsh voice, betters an indifferent one, and perfects a good one! When the heart sings you cannot dissemble. Nor has truth a greater power of persuading.."
With Caruso's voice, his heart was little burdened with correcting the defects of nature, softening harshness or bettering indifference. It could concentrate on the perfection of the good. Since his heart was big, and the voice nearly perfect to begin with, the lyrical communication was an unexampled combination of excitement and warmth'. The public was his partner in the fulfillment of a mission, and his role was to give the best, and all of the best that was in him...'