The Recital in England

Sir William Sterndale Bennett's 'Classical Chamber Concerts', 1843-1856

A central purpose of the series of Classical Chamber Concerts, organized by William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875) between 1842 and 1856, was to disseminate and in some cases re-introduce works by J. S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn, and also Jan Ladislav Dussek, Weber and Spohr. Although Bennett himself was the central performer throughout the series he engaged and collaborated with a wide range of players and singers, ranging from the internationally prominent Vieuxtemps, Joachim and Piatti, including figures of central British eminence (such as contralto Charlotte Dolby and violinist Henry Gamble Blagrove) to freelance musicians who, although highly active at that time, have now all but disappeared into the realm of obscurity. Although the presence of these other performers might appear to distance the Classical Chamber Concerts from the solo recital as pioneered by Franz Liszt, Bennett's selection of repertory, coupled with his collaborative approach, anticipates those performances by Charles Halle and Arabella Goddard that in the 1850s and 60s were advertised as 'recitals'. The development of the recital in England and beyond, moreover, contributed to and was mobilized by the progressive canonization of the Classical-era (and earlier) repertory of solo and chamber music. Starting from the collection of programmes preserved in the Sterndale Bennett archives, supplemented by those reproduced in contemporary journals, this article considers the significance of Bennett's series for the emergence of the recital in Britain. Bennett's choices of repertory are then contextualized within his wider activities as a musical educator and composer--including the public lecturing he undertook in later years.

Journal Ad Parnassum
Year 2015
Volume 13
Pages np

Stewart-MacDonald, R. H. (2015) The Recital in England: Sir William Sterndale Bennett's 'Classical Chamber Concerts', 1843-1856. In: Ad Parnassum: A Journal of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Instrumental Music, Vol. 13, pp. np. Available at


View it in the Music Periodicals Database


Drag and drop files here

or click to select them
Uploaded just now