Filson Young

Filson Young: The first media man (1876-1938), by Silvester Mazzarella

Table of contents

4. Earning a Living

As with many young people interested in literature and the other arts, Tom and Filson began in the early 1890s to have a go themselves. Tom immersed himself in Omar Khayyam and Meredith, and surreptitiously wrote flowery love poems on the headed paper of the Lancashire Patent Belting and Hose Company. For Filson, music came first. He had piano lessons from his mother from the age of four, and eventually came to play the organ in his father’s church.

I was both fortunate and unfortunate in the early stages. Fortunate in that my mother, who had the true musical sense and talent, was there to encourage and help; fortunate also that my earliest musical associations were the psalmody of the Church and the measured music of four-part vocal harmony. I was unfortunate in the sense that this kind of influence went too far, that music was too early and too much associated for me with religion, and that for a long time religious forms such as hymns, anthems and oratorios were almost the only kind of music with which I was familiar, with the exception of drawing-room songs and the feeble and badly executed kind of parlour music that was in vogue in my childhood. (40)

‘Are you musical?’ Mr A asks Miss B.

‘I’m afraid I don’t know one note from another, but my sister Miss C is musical.’ Mr A thereupon passes over to Miss C:

‘I hear you’re very musical.’

‘Oh yes, I adore it.’

‘And you play the piano.’

‘Well, a little.’

‘Do play us something.’

‘Oh! I couldn’t, really.’

‘But do play something.’

‘I’m so out of practice.’

‘Never mind, play anything.’

‘Oh! I didn’t know there was going to be music.’

‘Have you brought your music with you?’

‘Yes. It’s in the hall, I think.’

Whereupon after much fuss and feigned reluctance on the part of Miss C the music is

brought, the plants and photograph frames pushed a little way back on the piano, and the

sacrifice prepared.

‘I’m afraid the piano’s rather out of tune,’ says Mr A.

‘Oh, it doesn’t matter,’ says Miss C.

Indeed it does not. Miss C sits down and coldly and wickedly perpetrates what is a very monstrous affront not only to the ears but to the intelligence of every normal person present. No one enjoys it except Miss C and her mother who is totally without musical instinct and who fatuously regards this feat of her offspring as a species of public triumph. No one else really likes it. Many of the people present are people of genuine common sense and sound understanding but a kind of charm hangs over them, the charm of the so-called Musical Evening. They are there to play or sing, or to be played at or sung at. It is considered polite to ask people to do this even if they are incapable of it and, astounding fact,  to press those who do so who show an inkling of shame or reluctance. Meanwhile Miss B sits apart in her corner genuinely disenjoying herself and under the impression that it is because she is not musical. She is in fact the only musical person in the room and has a sensitive ear which is daily tortured by what she is taught to regard as music. ‘What a pity you are not musical,’ says Mr A, ‘but then of course you paint’ – which indeed the poor girl does, very badly, having an exquisite ear for sound and no sense of colour at all. But her mother had made up her mind, before she was married, that her eldest daughter should paint and her youngest play the piano – hence the evening party. (41)

In due course Filson was taken to his first Hallé Concert, but later felt he had come to good orchestral music too late to counteract the cramping effect of the keyboard on his musical imagination. According to Filson, Sir Charles Hallé’s orchestra was at this time the only first-rate full permanent orchestra in England; certainly by the 1890s it had toured all the major northern towns and was known as far afield as Edinburgh and London. It derived its main financial support from the Manchester German-Jewish community, a large and wealthy group of businessmen and their families who led their own social, intellectual and musical life and mixed little with their fellow townspeople.

Another important musical influence on Filson was Dr Kendrick Pyne, organist of Manchester Cathedral, who gave regular recitals on the Town Hall organ.(42) When he was about sixteen Filson managed to get himself introduced to Pyne one afternoon in the organ loft at the cathedral. This meeting was the beginning of a long friendship and he began to divide his time between the chartered accountant’s office and the cathedral organ loft.

It was a strange part of one’s life that was lived in the cathedral at Manchester. The whole external life of the town, with its busy commerce, its harsh materialism, its darkness and smoke and unloveliness of atmosphere, passed us by as though we were in a dream; we had nothing to do with it; it did not touch us. Twice a day the cathedral bell would ring out through the clash of tramcars and roar of muddy streets, and summon the handful whose business it was to carry on in its daily services the routine of centuries. The boys would come from the cathedral school, the choirmen, the clergy, and the strange little assortment that formed the congregation would gather together and pursue the solemn old ritual in the gorgeous choir of oak and stone. Up in the organ loft on the rood screen would be two or three pupils, of whom I in my time was almost always one; and we would either sit and listen to our master or ourselves take part in the playing of the service.(43)

Nor was this all. He bought large quantities of top quality German 28-stave music paper:

With a sublime faith in my own powers, which I do not regard as pathetic, but rather as a happiness to remember, I ordered enough of this paper to suffice for the whole score of a three-act grand opera, which I had begun to compose, and of which some fifty pages of the first act in full score do exist to this day. …

My body conveyed itself to the office every day, but my mind, which thirsted for the springs of Helicon, refused to follow to the bloomless meadows of accountancy. Within my desk, concealed under a sheet of blotting paper, which should have contained nothing more romantic than the trust accounts of one Miss Elsie Mayall, there was hidden a sheet or two of the Breitkopf & Härtel score paper, and in the hours when I should have diligently been copying accounts, I was making adventurous voyages on a whole sea of sound. Nor was I content with such fugitive industry. With that sublime devotion to a great and unattainable end, which is one of the best gifts of the inspiration of art, I would rise early in the morning, and by lamplight, in the drear winter time, wrapped in a rug in my bedroom, with a dressing-table for desk and a very small oil-stove as an island of warmth in the icy darkness, my hands aching with the cold contact of the paper, I used to toil at my opera, and come to such momentous decisions as the employment of a separate choir of Greek sailors, accompanied by a small additional orchestra of eight horns, at the bottom of an Ægean cliff.(44)

About this time, aged 17 or 18, he first heard and saw Wagner’s DieMeistersinger in a Carl Rosa production at the Theatre Royal, Manchester.

Over the years, it would come to mean more to him than any other single musical work. Apart from this and the grand opera he was trying to write, he was at this time absorbed in the structure and fabric of Bach’s music.

I dabbled in orchestration and songs, but what I really delighted in was counterpoint; I thought in fugues, I used to wish that I had four voices instead of only one, so that as I walked along the road the themes that I sang and developed could be heard together instead of only imagined. It is heavy work singing an eight-part chorus all by oneself. (45)

After ‘many parental doubts and hesitations’ he was allowed to give up accountancy and apply to enter the newly opened Royal Manchester College of Music (now the Royal Northern College), where he was examined, not long before the conductor’s death, by the ‘kind and gracious old figure’ of Sir Charles Hallé, who gave him a little theme (G, A, D, E) on which to improvise and complimented him on his ‘simple performance’. He started as an organ student in 1895, thus becoming an official pupil of Kendrick Pyne, and a member of the group of music students equipped with miniature scores who regularly sat in on the Hallé Orchestra’s Thursday rehearsals:

… the orchestra being in those days largely German, conversation between conductor and players was as often as not in that language. For Manchester in those days was more like a continental city than anything in England. The life we students lived was entirely musical; of the cotton and Manchester trades and great shipping activities with east and west I knew nothing. We lived in a world of music, and I trotted about between the College and the Cathedral … drifting through the streets, whose commotion and business were so foreign to those whose heads were filled with music; running into debt at Forsyth’s shop for the scores with which to study the symphonies and concertos; living, in short, much more the life of a foreign Conservatorium than of an English commercial city.(46)

With Tom Young it was different. He may not have found patent belting and hosepipes inspiring, but his imagination was fired by the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894. It turned Manchester overnight into a major port, enabling large freighters to sail right into the centre of the city. Surprised that the Manchester Guardian did not cover the movements of these ships, Tom offered to do this for them on a daily basis.(47) Eventually he became Commercial Editor, quite an achievement in those days for a boy who left school at ?15 among a staff of Oxbridge graduates.

So Tom watched and wrote about ships while Filson studied and composed music. It was not long before some of this music was published, mainly organ pieces and songs. In 1896 he wrote two song cycles, one on four poems from R.L.Stevenson’s newly published Songs of Travel; this was never published, though some of the poems are known today in settings made a few years later by Filson’s older contemporary Ralph Vaughan Williams. The second cycle, Five Lyrics by George Meredith, would be published in 1901. In the year he wrote these songs he just failed

(‘proxime accessit’) to win a scholarship in composition to the Royal College of Music in London, where he would have been a contemporary of the future composers Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, John Ireland and Thomas Dunhill. Clearly, without the scholarship William Young could not afford to support his son in London, but in any case Filson, plagued by the characteristic restlessness that afflicted him throughout his life, found it difficult to stick to one thing for more than a short time.

In any case, formal music studies could be frustrating:

College of Music life, except for the always delightful and amusing organ classes of Pyne – with whom I studied there as well as at the Cathedral – meant to me chiefly the association with others working at the same art, and the gift of leidure to breathe and live my own inner life for a year or two that is so invaluable an experience on the threshold of life, and the memory of which is dearer to me than that of any university could be. The things taught such as harmony, counterpoint, pianoforte, composition, etc., were of little or no use to me. It is what one learns that matters, not what one is taught. A grim old pedant, Dr Henry Hiles by name (48), was the arch contrapuntist appointed to lead us in those bloomless meadows; his one idea was to divide us into classes who were “at” various stages. I remember, at a time when my sole interest was in composing elaborate fugues, being kept by Dr Hiles at four- and five-part harmony. I used to copy chorales of Bach into my manuscript book and hand them in as exercises; and when Dr Hiles scored with his blue pencil a more than usual number of mistakes, or what he called bad progressions, I would triumphantly divulge the august aurthorship of the said mistakes. But schoolmaster’s sarcasm was quite equal to that. “There are many things that Bach can do which you cannot; when you are Bach,’ etc., etc.(49)

Tom had his toe on the bottom rung of the Guardian ladder, but the nineteen-year-old Filson, still studying music and composing, now decided to write a book. He finished it and managed to get it published by a reputable publisher.(50) It was entitled A Psychic Vigil in Three Watches and its theme was the fashionable subject of spiritualism. The young author, wishing for

some reason to remain anonymous, had chosen as his pseudonym ‘X-Rays’, not only state-of-the-art (X-rays had only just been discovered by Röntgen) but was also no doubt intended to give an impression of clairvoyance. A Psychic Vigil takes the form of a Socratic dialogue between three young men called Tom, Dick and Harry on an island in what could very well be Strangford Lough. Tom, significantly, is the Socrates figure who instructs the other two; all his life Filson felt a debt to his brother for guidance when he was learning to write. Unsurprisingly,  A Psychic Vigil is not a good book, its wordy preaching apparently an unfortunate combination of reading Plato and Carlyle and listening to too many sermons in church. What is surprising is that anyone was willing to publish it. But it does give a glimpse of Filson’s thinking at twenty. Its theme is the intensely private and personal nature of the spirit. In his exaltation of the spirit and its supposed power to overthrow materialism, Filson shows himself Carlyle’s disciple. He has no use for theology but religion is ‘sacred to the inner self, unspeakable as is love, the one real love in a human being’s life’, and music is the purest link between spirit and body:

Of all idiotic conceptions, that of literature being the highest form of art is the chief … All that painting, sculpture and poetry can do, music also does, and infinitely more. Music is above all art and all criticism of art.’(51)

Even so, it could be that the main reason Filson turned from composing music to writing was that he found more people were likely to take notice of his writing than his music. A Psychic Vigil is full of sententious platitudes, one of which – ‘Self-reliance is the prelude to success’ (52) – brought a sharp response from his doting mother. On his 21st birthday in June 1897 she gave her spoilt spoilt youngest child a small Bible in which she made a point of drawing his attention to a passage in Proverbs: ‘Trust in the Lord with all thy heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding’. He kept the little Bible at his side for the rest of his life, every time he moved house adding his new address to what became a long list.

One may well wonder how Filson managed to get A Psychic Vigil published at all. According to its ‘Fore-words’, written by the Rev H.R.Haweis, an eccentric clergyman and popular author famous at the time for his writings on music and spiritualism,(53) Filson pressed the manuscript on him when he came to Manchester to give a talk. Haweis not only read it but volunteered to edit it and find a publisher:

I have reason to suppose that its author might never himself have taken the trouble to carry out its publication. The author, having written, seemed to feel that he had discharged his mind, and had actually laid his manuscript aside, just as Turner, the painter, would often dash off a water-colour sketch, and, having caught its effect, fold the paper up all wet and put it in his pocket, never caring even to look at the blurred study again.(54)

Perhaps the oddest thing about this juvenile ‘blurred study’, is that it was reissued twenty-one years later, when its author was at the height of his powers, by another reputable publisher, Methuen. This second edition appeared entirely anonymously, the childish pseudonym ‘X-Rays’ having been dropped. In his 1917 Foreword Filson makes clear that he is reissuing the

book as a contribution to the market for spiritualist literature among those bereaved by the First World War. I have no evidence that either edition sold at all well [check W.H.Allen and Methuen records?].

Meanwhile, at the College of Music, Filson continued his war with Dr Hiles:

I rather threw a bomb into the system of harmony and counterpoint by sending an elaborate organ fugue in G flat to Messrs. Breitkopf & Härtel who, to my delight, took it and published it – a good thirteen pages of it – in the most beautiful engraving, and with full German title-page. It lies before me now, my name and Wagner’s on the same page of the series. Well do I remember the morning I brought it to the College and placeed it on the organ desk, the “Herrn J. Kendrick Pyne gewidmet” proudly heading the prodigious title of “Präludium und Fuge in Ges dur für Orgel, componirt von Alexander Bell Filson Young”, the fact that it was “eigenthum der Verleger für alle Länder” adding greatly to my sense of importance. When I presented a copy to the Council of the College a dilemma arose. It was the first composition published by a pupil, it bore the imprint of a publisher whose standards were admittedly high, it bore the name in dedication of an illustrious master, it stood there, a strictly written fugue with subjects, answers, inversions, counter-subjects, strettos and pedal-points; but Dr Hiles objected to its acceptance on the ground that I was not “at” fugue, being merely “at” harmony; and that a person who was “at” four-point harmony could not possibly write  a fugue in G flat, even though it bore the frivolous direction lebhaft doch nicht zu schnell.

But the work was accepted nevertheless, with proper acknowledgements; and the good Dr Hiles never quite forgave me for having disturbed his curriculum. When on a later and greater occasion I was one of the successful competitors for the three years’ Open Scholarship in Composition at the Royal College of Music in London, another was put in my place because (as Villiers Stanford afterwards told me) the professor of counterpoint disapproved of the way in which in my vivâ voce examination I spoke of certain rules of counterpoint laid down by Dr Hiles, my attitude towards which suggested to him that I would not be likely to derive benefit from academic instruction.

Perhaps he was right. Both for him and Dr Hiles the calm moving canto firmo of their lives has long come to a full close, and cannot be desecrated by any leaping fifths, false relations, parallel motions, unresolved dissonances, or other bugbears which they fought so valiantly. But the incident is a further evidence that in my musical life polyphonic harmony had a way of proving my undoing, through having proved too much my inspiration.(55)

Two months after A Psychic Vigil came out, Filson broke off his music studies at the Royal Manchester College after five terms and left without the College Diploma. Next, perhaps encouraged by Haweis, he did the logical thing and began to write about what he had learned during his years of study. Starting on 25 September 1897 with an article on ‘The Art of Listening to Music’, he contributed more than sixty pieces up to December 1900 to a London news-and-views weekly called The Musical Standard, edited by E.A.Baughan.(56) He reviewed Hallé concerts and other Manchester musical events, and in the concert close season wrote general articles on such well-known composers as Mozart and Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Wagner. This was a periodical that J.F.Runciman, music critic of the grander weekly The Saturday Review, was to scoff at as a ‘weekly circular issued by an excellent firm of second-hand booksellers’ for the benefit of ‘young suburban ladies’ with strict fathers.(57) But looking back later, Baughan saw things differently:

Those were brave days. I could write what I liked, how I liked, and when I liked, for it was easy enough for the contributor in me to hoodwink myself as editor. To Mr Filson Young was accorded the same freedom almost every week. If no one else enjoyed our writing we ourselves took a great pleasure in it. We tilted at many windmills, no doubt, and upheld the beauty of many Dulcianas – but it was a brave time.(58)

The Musical Standard was indeed a fundamentally serious paper. In his first article Filson argued that one should listen with maximum concentration so as not to miss the ‘real effect’ of music, ‘which cannot be felt until the sounds have been hushed, and the thoughts have fallen into a quiet perspective’. The ‘second-hand bookseller’, William Reeves of 83 Charing Cross Road, publisher but not owner of the Musical Standard and of many books on music, collected the best of these music essays by Filson in Mastersingers (1902), a book later taken over by Grant Richards and revised and reprinted several times. In a postscript to the first edition Filson explained that his purpose had been to abstain from criticism and merely gossip for a while upon subjects that were of engrossing interest to himself, to attempt without being judgmental to give a truthful record of the effect certain widely differing works had had on a single mind. Meanwhile, in 1898, Forsyth’s music shop in Manchester where Filson and his fellow students used to spend their money on miniature scores,(59) published a couple of not very impressive song settings by Filson, with words by Tom and their cousin Helen Chisholm, for the sentimental ‘shop-ballad’ market.(60)

With Tom now on the Guardian staff, Filson took careful aim at his next major objective, Britain’s leading Liberal daily, the pride of Manchester. The first piece he sent in was a long lively article about life backstage at the pantomime. This was accepted and published on 10 January 1899 and, unknown to Filson, impressed the paper’s proprietor and former editor J.E.Taylor, now living at Menton on the French Riviera. Taylor asked C.P.Scott, the editor, for information on the new contributor. Scott told him that Filson was a qualified music critic, to which Taylor responded that he should ‘certainly be kept in view’ and might be of the greatest use if the current music critic left (61). Meanwhile, Scott gave Filson work as a freelance theatre critic, and between 1899 and 1901 he reported on some sixty Manchester theatrical events. Touring companies would usually spend a week in the city bringing opera, Shakespeare and other classical drama, farce, melodrama, music hall or musical comedy. Filson admired such popular stars as the comedian Dan Leno and (with reservations) the classical actor Henry Irving, but usually took a supercilious attitude to the popular melodramas beloved by Manchester’s more unsophisticated audiences. He took exception, for instance, to the combination of sanctimoniousness and sadism in F.Marriott Watson’s stage adaptation of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story The Black Mask:

A bloody murder takes place before our eyes in the prologue, and the first act is remarkable for the abduction of little Philip, an irritating child who preaches to his mother. We must confess that we were pleased when little Philip was abducted, and we should have been glad if the thing had happened before he was allowed to read aloud passages of scripture for his mother’s benefit. Another incident of this act was the flogging of this infant boy by his father, who plied his horsewhip to an accompaniment of the child’s yells. The scene was very gross and brutal and to heighten the effect the orchestra played ‘Lead kindly Light’ over and over again during the greater part of the act. The play offers grotesque affronts to good taste, but the cordiality of the audience seemed to indicate that the author knows his public and its likings.(62)

As an opponent of corporal punishment for children, Filson was ahead of his time. He believed the touring system encouraged rubbish: since no piece had to run for more than a week anywhere, it was automatically hailed as a novelty wherever it went. He particularly despised a phenomenon modern critics have looked on more kindly, the ‘organised industry’ of musical comedies produced by the impresario George Edwardes. In Filson’s view these standardised entertainments wasted the talents of the actors and musicians who took part in them.(63) Edwardes, presumably fearing financial damage from the snooty denunciations of this young upstart, sued the Guardian for libel more than once. Filson’s culturally ascetic upbringing blinded him to Edwardes’ skill in identifying what audiences of busy working-class people really enjoyed and providing it; in this Edwardes was a forerunner of today’s popular television entertainment.

Sometimes, as J.E.Taylor had hoped, Filson stood in for the Guardian’s admired regular music critic, Arthur Johnstone.(64) In this capacity he reported on Hallé concerts both orchestral and choral, recitals on the Town Hall organ by Kendrick Pyne, and visits from such crowd-pullers as the ageing ‘Queen of Song’, Adelina Patti. In fact, he deputised wherever needed; in June 1899 he took over the Cycling Notes for a few weeks, no doubt while the regular contributor was on holiday. Cycling was enjoying a brief heyday as a popular pastime; pedal cycles had become efficient and comfortable and the very few cars yet on the roads still moved at snail’s pace. The factories couldn’t produce cycles fast enough to keep up with popular demand, not least in the glorious summer of 1899. Filson would pack sandwiches and a flask of whisky-and-water and set out on his bicycle between four and six in the morning on a long expedition expedition into the Cheshire countryside, stealing up unawares on shy birds and animals:

A group of rabbits sitting twenty yards in front of me showed me that I was no longer in a lane. I dismounted, for the grass held many dangers for tyres, and I smiled at myself for riding a bicycle in a dell; but the change had come so gradually that I was unaware of it until I came upon the rabbits. And now, as I walked on softly over the fine springy turf (for I knew I could get out somewhere), I felt like Gulliver in Lilliput; the forest was on so small a scale, and yet everything was in proportion. Spiders travelled along the tops of plants instead of monkeys on the highway of tree tops; there were caterpillars for snakes, gnats for birds, field mice for lions, rabbits for elephants. Only I, wheeling a great steel bicycle, was incongruous and disproportionate.(65)

He travelled about Manchester collecting copy for back-page articles to follow up the success of his pantomime piece. As the above cycling report suggests, he liked writing about animals. On Mayday a charity beauty contest for donkeys was held in a police-station yard. Another time he inspected a dog’s home where strays were kept for a week and if not claimed, chloroformed. The animals of Belle Vue Zoo (which included an aggressive lion called Wallace, perhaps the very beast immortalised year later by Marriott Edgar and Stanley Holloway in their ‘Lion and

Albert’ recitations) provided him with enough material for five articles, but nothing to equal the philosophical elephant-keeper Lorenzo. A mention of Darwin set Lorenzo going:

‘Darwin; ah! there you go; it’s astonishing how ignorant people (no offence, sir) are misled by Darwin. Now Darwin was a very clever man – don’t run away with the notion that he wasn’t. But to my mind Darwin was a bit wrong. I’ve lived with animals; I know them; and I think Darwin got hold of the wrong end of the stick when he said we came from apes. Darwin said we’ve grown upward; I say no, we’re growing downward.

‘Look at apes,’ he went on. ‘Do apes grow any more like men? If you go to Borneo you don’t see men running wild in the ape forests, do you? . . . Well, and if man came from apes, you’d see a man walk out of the forest every now and then, and him or no one else not knowing where he’s come from. No, sir, man’s growing downwards – downwards and eastwards.’

I staggered under the shock of this new complication. ‘Eastwards?’ I gasped.

‘Yes, eastwards. The further East you go you see men more like apes and beasts; they’ve all been like us once, and some day we’ll be like them, and we’ll go on going down and be apes, and oysters too, before we’ve done . . .’ (66)

And when the pennies had all been harvested and the crowd was already melting away, I saw Lorenzo and his great companion wending their way slowly homewards. The sage, no longer agile, his pockets bursting with copper, walked with bended back at a deliberate pace, and the elephant shuffled beside him with weary steps, turning towards him as though comparing notes with him on the day’s business. I do not know why I should have pitied them, but something in their gait took me by the heart as they disappeared into the deepening dusk; the sight was at once majestic and pathetic: one was reminded of a Twilight of the Gods.(67)

This very week, far away in South Africa, the Boers besieged Kimberley and Mafeking.


40 ‘Music in a Life II -Training and Talent’, Apollo: A Journal of the Arts, date.

41 More Mastersingers (1911), 126-8 slightly adapted, probably from the course of University Extension Lectures on music given by FY in Liverpool, 1910.

42 James Kendrick Pyne (1852-1938) was a third generation professional musician who had studied the organ under Samuel Sebasian Wesley. Particularly admired as an interpreter of Bach, he was organist of Manchester Cathedral 1876-98 and of Manchester Town Hall from 1877. He was Professor of Organ at the Royal Manchester College of Music from its inception in 1893 and taught at Manchester University from 1901. Besides music for the organ, his compositions include a set of Lancashire songs to words by Edwin Waugh. For an appreciation of Pyne, see Henry Coleman, ‘James Kendrick Pyne: a Link with a Forgotten Past’ in The Organ, 1960, pp 8-15 and 92-98. Pyne’s behaviour in church could be eccentric. Filson describes him in the organ loft simultaneously reciting the Creed and discussing the present quality and availability of bacon  (More Mastersingers, 25). Brian Churcher, who knew him in old age, remembered him announcing in a loud voice from below the pulpit during an interminable sermon, ‘My God, he can’t stop!’ (conversation with SM, 20 March 1976).

43 ‘Music in a Life XII – Methods of a Master’, Apollo, date.

44 ‘Music in a Life X – Days with the Orchestra’, Apollo, date, which also describes Filson’s successful interview with Sir Charles Hallé.

Sir Charles Hallé (1819-95), English (originally German) pianist and conductor. He had known Chopin, Liszt, Berlioz and Wagner, and introduced Beethoven’s piano sonatas in Paris and London. He settled in Manchester in the 1840s, founding the ‘Hallé concerts’, with which he was closely associated as conductor for the last 37 years of his life. The Royal Manchester College of Music represented the fulfilment of a long-held ambition of his for the city. It opened in October 1893, with Hallé as Principal and Professor of Piano. He died suddenly in October 1895.

45 ‘Music in a Life – Die Meistersinger‘, Apollo, date

46 ‘The World We Listen In’, Radio Times, 18 March 1932; reprinted in Shall I Listen? 85-6. Filson left a fuller account of his experiences of the Hallé Orchestra in his broadcast talk ‘Memories of the Hallé Concerts’ (BBC Radio 17 March 1932, script preserved in BBC Written Archives), and in ‘Music in a Life XI – Days with the Orchestra continued’, Apollo, date

47 ‘I forced my way on to the paper in 1895 (using as a kind of jemmy my interest in & knowledge of the [Manchester] Ship Canal and maritime affairs, which no one else on the paper understood at all) … I [arrived] through the back [door], not being a product of Oxford, or even Cambridge.’ – T.M. (Tom) Young, letter to W.Haslam Mills, influential Chief Reporter and first historian of the Guardian, 1921 (never sent but kept by the writer, now in the possession of SM).

48 Henry Hiles (1826-1904) was Profesor of Harmony at the College for the first eleven years of its existence. According to Withers, The Royal Manchester College of Music (1918), p 39, Hiles’s retirement meant ‘the withdrawing of a striking personality and a vigorous mind’. Also in Manchester, Hiles had been owner, editor and a leading conributor to the Quarterly Musical Review during its three-year life, 1885-8, conributing among other things a three-part series of articles on what he considered the ‘absurdities’ of contemorary musical notation. His hymn tune ‘Haslingden’ appears as an alternative tune for  hymn 145 (‘O Christ our joy gone up on high’) in the 1916 standard edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (later ireverently dubbed Hymns Ancient and Mid-Victorian).

49 ‘Music in a life II – Training and Talent’, Apollo, date

50 W.H.Allen, October 1896.

51 A Psychic Vigil in Three Watches by “X Rays” [1896], 85-6.

52 A Psychic Vigil, 142.

53 Hugh Reginald Haweis (1838-1901) was a London West End vicar famous for his book Music and Morals (1871, reprinted twenty or more times) [which Haweis book was published by W.H.Allen?]. According to D.H.Lawrence, The only way to learn about music is to listen to it, and  think about it afterwards. the only book I know is Haweis’s Music and Morals – it is not new – it is not startling – but it is good, I think. (D.H.Lawrence to Blanche Jennings, 15 Dec 1908). Haweis’s view was that Morality is a quality which Art may or may not possess; it does not, except in a very secondary sense, belong to its constitution. The Morality depends upon the Artist, not upon the Art … Art need not aim at promoting morals; that is in its nature an un-moral thing (Music and Morals, 1898 edition, p 39) – incidentally, a view held by the novelist, critic and musician Anthony Burgess among others.

54 H.R.Haweis, Foreword to A Psychic Vigil (1896 edition only).

55 ‘Music in a Life II – Training and Talent’, Apollo, date. The Prelude and Fugue in G Flat published by Breitkopf  & Härtel is in fact dated 1897, though of course Filson may have had a proof copy before he left the College in December 1896.

56 Edward Algernon Baughan (1865-1938) edited the Musical Standard from 1892 to 1902, and over the years wrote music and dramatic criticism for a wide range of daily and weekly papers. Further associated with Filson in the early 1920s when Filson recruited him to write music reviews for the Saturday Review.

57 Runciman was often involved in controversy. He had to pay an elocutionist called Edward Charles Fry damages of £200 (a sizeable sum) for calling him an ‘ass’ in another musical journal in 1895. Baughan dismissed Runciman’s contributions to the weekly Saturday Review as a ‘weekly pyrotechnical show’ (Musical Standard, 4 Sept 1897, p 148). [This may have been in Runciman's letter to the Musical Standard of 27 July 1901 (?p 563), answered by Baughan on ‘p 53'; see also Runciman controversy in Musical Standard 6 Nov 1897, p 289]

58 ‘Music & Musicians – A Real Music Critic’, in the Daily News, 22 july 1911.

59 ‘The World We Listen In’, Radio Times 18 March 1932.

60 It was de rigueur for any self-respecting late Victorian middle-class home to contain a piano and plenty of sheet music featuring the latest popular ballads. The publishers who produced this kind of sheet music recruited the best-known singers of the day to present these songs in programmes sometimes entirely devoted to such songs, though they could also include them in their regular programmes. Singers who lent themselves to such activities naturally received regular payments from the publishers. The public paid many times more for the sheet music of a single song than they were expected to pay for a full-length book in a bookshop. One of Filson’s songs seems to have been introduced in one of these celebrity recitals, as the printed version claims it ‘as sung by Rita Elandi’, a soprano Filson admired when she sang  Wagner’s Isolde in Manchester with the Carl Rosa touring opera (see FY in the Musical Standard, 7 May 1898).

61 J.E.Taylor to C.P.Scott, 7 Feb 1899.

62 Manchester Guardian, 1 Aug 1899.

63 George Edwardes (1852-1915), manager of several London theatres (the Savoy from 1881, the Gaiety from 1885 and Daly’s from 1893), introduced modern musical comedy to England. He had an extraordinary flair for knowing what the public wanted, and spared no cost in providing it (P.Hartnoll & P.Found (eds) The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre, 1992 edition). Among Edwardes’most famous successes were The Geisha and, later, a British musical comedy version of The Merry Widow.

64 Tom Young wrote of Arthur Johnstone: Personally he was a queer fish: reserved, angular, and curiously reticent about the past, which I imagine had been chequered and not without hard times. But his musical criticism was absolutely “it”. He was a first-rate writer on his own subject and though he may not have known as much about music as [Ernest] Newman he was far more sensitive and appreciative, and far more capable of making his readers share his impressions. He has had no real successor, for my brother Filson who had many of his qualities and for some time shared his work was diverted or diverted himself into other channels. – unsent letter to W.Haslam Mills, 1921.

65 Manchester Guardian, 19 June 1899.

66 Manchester Guardian, 11 Oct 1899, reprinted in ‘A Memory of Beasts’ in Memory Harbour (1909).

67 Manchester Guardian, 16 Oct 1899, reprinted in ‘A Memory of Beasts’ in Memory Harbour (1909).

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