Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra

The Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra was established as Mr Thomas’s Band by the Reverend J.H Thomas, at the Fitzwilliam Street Unitarian Church in 1862.

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Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra

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Orchestras

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Thomas’s obituary in the Huddersfield Examiner said about the first orchestra, ‘He got a number of lads and young men around him. For five or six years he gave lessons gratuitously.

Thomas bought many instruments for the band out of his small means…For the first few years the music of the band was exceedingly crude and often painfully out of tune; but the band was always an improving one’50. There is some debate as to when the orchestra started to call themselves the ‘Huddersfield Philharmonic’, nevertheless, it is generally agreed that shortly after Thomas’s death the orchestra was known as the ‘Huddersfield Philharmonic’ at their first concert in 1885.

When Thomas died the orchestra was conducted by John North, who was a renowned local musician.51 Wallace Hartley is perhaps the most well-known alumni of the orchestra. Hartley joined the Huddersfield Philharmonic in 1895, and was playing during the 1896-7 season. He later became leader of the band on the Titanic, and Hartley has become part of the ship’s legend after leading his fellow musicians in playing as the vessel sank. His violin was later recovered, and, in 2013, the instrument was auctioned for £900,000.52

From the 1970s the orchestra has expanded its repertoire and now draws on local musicians to perform five concerts a season, which, like the orchestra’s original promenade concerts throughout the nineteenth-century, are held in Huddersfield Town Hall.

Current recordings and extra pictures can be found here.

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