The leading international recital venue, Wigmore Hall, specialises in performances of chamber music and song. Built to provide London with a venue that is impressive yet intimate, the hall is situated at 36 WigmoreStreet. The hall has near-perfect acoustics and quickly became celebrated across Europe and has featured many great artists of the 20th century. On a yearly base, the hall puts on 400 concerts and broadcasts weekly concerts on BBC radio.
Built between 1899 and 1901 by C. BechsteinPianofortefabrik, the German piano manufacturer, the venue was originally named Bechstein Hall. Thomas Edward Collcutt, who designed the Savoy Hotel and the Palace Theatre, was commissioned to design the space. The hall opened with a concert featuring the virtuoso pianist and composer Ferrucio Busoni and violinist Eugene Ysaye. Early one, the hall attracted great artists such as: Artur Schnabel, Pablo Saraste, and Percy Grainger. Unfortunately, Bechstein was forced to cease trading in Britain during World War I due to the Enemy Amendment Act of 1916 and all property was ceased, including the concert hall. In 1916 the building was bought by Debenhams at auction and was then rechristened as the Wigmore Hall and re-opened under the new name in 1917.
Wigmore Hall follows the Renaissance style of having alabaster and marble walls which furnish a rectangular hall. The hall also has a small raised stage area with a cupola above depicting the “Soul of Music,” a mural designed by Gerald Moira. The hall is considered to have one of the best acoustics for classical music in all of Europe. The hall has been under numerous refurbishments and its current capacity is 545 seats. The hall also has two bars and a restaurant on the lower ground. The hall has enjoyed a number of long associations with great artists of the 20th century such as: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Peter Pears, Sergey Prokofiev, and particularly Benjamin Britten. The hall kept a strong relationship with Benjamin Britten, both as a composer and performer. “Serenade for tenor, horn, and strings” as well as extracts from his future opera “Peter Grimes” were premiered at the hall. In November and December of 2012, the hall commemorated its relationship with Britten by putting on performance and events entitled “Before Life and After.” These performances marked the beginning of a year-long international celebration of the 100th anniversary of Britten’s birth. The hall has also been a major hub for Lieder and art song performances. The British premier of Schubert’s “Die schoneMullerin” took place at Wigmore hall in 1903 and the first UK performance of Janacek song cycle “The Diary of One Who Disappeared” in 1922. The prestige of the acoustic sound from the hall makes it a great venue for broadcasting and recording. The BBC radio 3 transmits its lunchtime concerts from Wigmore Hall every Monday during the season. Also, numerous night concerts are broadcasted live from the hall and are later shown on Sky Art TV. The venue also publishes its own record label for Wigmore Hall Live recordings of concerts of famous artists. The label was nominated for a Gramophone Award for the Lorraine Hunt Lieberson classical recital.
The current director is John Gilhooly OBE, a classical singer. He became CEO in 2000 and additionally became Artistic Director in 2005. Gihooly has maintained and expanded Wigmore Hall’s repertoire of classical song, chamber music, and early music as well as introducing new music to entice a more diverse audience. In 2007, he announced a scheme for modern composers. Through this scheme, Luke Bedford became the first Composer-in-Residence in 2009 and was succeeded by Julian Anderson in 2013. In 2012, the Foundation Hoffmann and its President, Andre Hoffmann, supported the commissioning scheme publicised by John Gihooly and the foundation’s donation commissioned new works by Julian Anderson, Anna Meredith, Nico Muhly, and Judith Weir. Since 2013 the hall has committed to premiering 13 new works per season.
Wigmore Hall also offers educational programmes including family concerts, workshops, study events, masterclasses, and even concerts for new parents and their babies. The hall reaches out to over 160 schools, nurseries, and care centres.
If you plan on enjoying a performance at the prestigious Wigmore Hall, consider adding a luxury, hotel stay at The Marble Arch by Montcalm.