Halle, Sir Charles

1819-1895

Was born at Hagen in Westphalia, though the greater part of his life was spent in England. Not very strong in infancy, he was carefully guarded by his mother and early influenced by her toward music, she being talented as a singer and pianist. He understood much of the value of notes at three and at five played in public a simple piece written by his father. His progress was so rapid that, at seven, his father received many offers to tour him. He learned to play the flute, violin and the littleused tympani. In subscription concerts, being either at the piano or in the orchestra, he became familiar with a number of classical and sacred works, and so became a thorough musician. He also made much progress on the organ. Composing each year a little piece for his father's birthday, these grew in importance to a concert overture. In 1834, at the age of fifteen, he went to Darmstadt to study with Rinck and Gottfried Weber. He went to Paris in 1836, and spent much of his time with Chopin, Liszt, Thalberg, Berlioz and Cherubini. In 1843 he played at a concert given by Sivori in Hanover Square Rooms, London, but he returned to Paris, and in 1846 began a series of concerts with Alard and Franchomme, at that time the greatest violinist and cellist of France. Here he accidentally met Habeneck and was invited to play Beethoven's E flat Concerto at one of the concerts ot the Conservatory, thereby gaining his " artistic baptism of Paris." When Queen Victoria visited Louis Philippe at the Chateau d'Eu, the court invited Halle to play. In 1848 Halle sought a quieter sphere in London, shortly afterwards making his headquarters at Manchester. From 1850 he conducted the Gentlemen's concerts there, founded the St. Cecilia Society, and from 1857 onward gave regular concerts with the Manchester Orchestra. In London he was best known as a pianist, appearing at Convent Garden, at the Musical Union, and, in 1852, at the Philharmonic. He had been giving piano recitals at his own home and in 1861 these became public, being given at St. James' Hall. These introduced the literature of the piano in a thoroughly systematic way and gave a feast of the works of great piano composers. He occasionally brought the Manchester Orchestra to London, especially to perform important works of Berlioz; but these series of concerts from 1889 to 1891 were so poorly supported that he was obliged to give them up. In 1888 Queen Victoria knighted him, and in the same year he married his second wife, Mme. Norman Neruda, the eminent violinist. Together they visited Australia in 1890-1891, and in 1895 they went to South Africa. The coldness displayed by Halle, when performing in public disappeared in private, and it was then that he showed himself so completely in sympathy with the composer. He ranks high as a conductor and has had a great influence upon musical education, having compiled a Piano School and Musical Library. His death occurred at his home in Greenheys Lane, Manchester, in 1895.