Henry Russell, City Hall, March 1855: ‘The Emigrant’s Progress’ & ‘Negro Life in Freedom and Slavery’

Henry Russell (1812/13-1900), an English pianist, baritone singer and composer, was born into a distinguished Jewish family. He wrote the song A Life on the Ocean Wave, and many of his works championed social causes like abolition, temperance, and the reform of mental asylums.


He was in Glasgow in March 1855, and performing at the City Hall on Friday the 9th. An advertisement in The Glasgow Herald, on the 5th, page one, informed readers that Russell would be presenting his new entertainments: The Emigrant’s Progress and Negro Life in Freedom and Slavery. Among the songs he was scheduled to sing, and listed in the advert, are: The Maniac; Ship on Fire; Cheer, Boys, Cheer; Newfoundland Dog; To the West; Woodman, Spare that Tree, and several other of his compositions.


Tickets were available from Messrs. David Swan & Co., Music-sellers, 70 Buchanan Street. Reserved seats, marked and numbered, cost three shillings; seats in the Body of the Hall cost two shillings; Back Seats were one shilling; and seats in the gallery were sixpence. The performance started at 8pm.


See the reference to Russell in Allan Stuart Jackson, The Standard Theatre of Victorian England, 1993, pages 100 to 101. He gives his dates as 1813-90