The Queen’s Rooms, Kelvingrove: Opening Promenade and Evening Concert, on Saturday the 1st of January, 1859

An article on page two of the North British Daily Mail, on Monday the 3rd of January, 1859, reads:




The Queens Rooms were opened on Saturday by a grand promenade, which was well and fashionably attended — the band

of the Nottinghamshire Militia enlivening the proceedings with some favourite overtures, &c. This fine building is situated at

Clifton Street, adjacent to and fronting the south-east corner of the West End Park, and has been erected by Mr David Bell of

Blackhall. The grand feature in the interior of the edifice is the upper hall, which is really as handsome an assembly room as

one need wish to enter. It is capable of accommodating about twice the number of either the Trades’ or Merchants’ Hall, and

is of an entirely different construction. The roof is formed of a series of massive mainbeams, between which the light descends

through glazed space. There are no side windows, and the light coming entirely from the ceiling has a soft, harmonising effect.

On the platform end there is on either side a neat elevated gallery, below which are entrances to the platform from the adjoining

ante-rooms, the doors being covered with rich red baize, bound with gold. On the centre of the platform, slightly raised, stands a

beautiful, sweet-toned organ. The pipes are fine specimens of decorative art, and are surmounted by spread eagles. The prevailing

colours are white and gold. At the opposite end of the room there is a comfortably seated and spacious gallery continued on both

sides by a balcony, which runs from the foot of the gallery along to the platform, somewhat similar to that in the City Hall. With

this balcony or side gallery we were a little disappointed. It looks to us as if it had been an after-thought of the designer. It is much

narrower than what it might have been, and railed in front by a plain close netting, much too high, and not at all in keeping with

other graceful proportions of the apartment. On account of this railed frontage — which we feel much inclined to call a formidable

barricade — the occupants are in a great measure like what Byron says of somebody or something else, “All-seeing but unseen.”

Round the brackets in the wall which receive the mainbeams of the ceiling are beautifully executed bas-reliefs, which, together with

medallions, and the other devices on the walls, exhibit great artistic skill and taste. The gas-light descends from bracket-stars in the

ceiling nicely proportioned. Altogether, the room is fitted up in an elegant, light, and agreeable manner; and it is but justice to Mr

Bell to add, that apart from the great benefits a fashionable locality will experience from the erection of these Assembly Booms in its

neighbourhood, the public are indebted to his enterprise and liberality for a splendid public ornament to Glasgow — for it possesses

nothing of the kind which in richness of decoration and design can compete with, much less eclipse, the Queen’s Rooms.



in the evening, under the auspices of the Directors of the Abstainers’ Union, put the hall to the test in two all-important qualifications —

its acoustic and ventilating properties. We can speak favourably of both. We understand that the softest sounds were heard with

distinctness in the gallery, whilst allegro and fortissimo passages had sufficient scope to please the artistes. The ventilation we found

agreeable: there were no cold airs or blasts hot and sickening to disturb the tranquility and the health of the audience, but a comfortable

temperature ruled throughout the evening. Before the concert commenced the vocalists appeared on the platform, and, accompanied by

Mr Thomas Macfarlane on the organ, sang the Queen’s Anthem — the entire audience standing and cheering loudly at the conclusion.

The programme embraced selections from Handel, Verdi, Donizetti, Balfe, Glover, Loder, and Arnot, &c. We were afraid, at first, that

it would prove too heavy for the occasion, from its purely classical features, but the reverse was the fact, for the whole passed off amidst

numerous encores and other manifestations of delight. Mdlle. Vaneri, “the star of the evening,” seemed in excellent voice and spirit, and

sang with great vivacity. We have already had occasion to speak of this lady’s musical powers, and need only say that her voice on was as

full, pure, and exquisite as ever. The grandeur of Handel was done justice to by Mdlle. Vaneri, in the magnificent aria, ” With verdure clad.”

This she gave with a taste which showed that she had caught the ideas of the composer, for she rendered it, with the aid of the

accompaniment on the organ, in a manner truly grand. A Miss Jefferys appeared, and received a very hearty welcome. This lady seems to

be young and studious, and may ultimately become an attraction; at present, however, her voice, a soprano, is by far too thin and shrill for

the line she is following. She might please well in ballads. Master Carl Rosi, the boy violinist, delighted the audience with several exquisite

solos. This boy’s execution and naivete are really something wonderful. He completely rivetted the attention of his audience by his artistic

display, and roused them to the highest delight when he struck out some popular theme. In “John Anderson, my Joe,” particularly, he

roused quite an excitement. We remember how Jenny Lind created a furore impossible to describe by her singing of this simple ballad;

and we must say that this boy Rosi on his violin pleased nearly as well as the singing of the great cantatrice. Mr Augustus Braham was

received, as he always is, with rounds of applause. We must protest against the liberties Mr Braham takes with his audience. We do not

speak of last Saturday night in particular, nor do we confine ourselves to the last twelve occasions on which we have heard this gentleman

sing. No audience should tolerate negligent characteristics in any artiste, whether real or affected. Mr Braham’s happy smiles do one good,

but he should remember that in addition to an ease of manner, some little “cast of thought” predisposes an auditory to hear something

done in the artiste’s best style, especially if it should happen to be a sacred piece, for which he has announced himself. We have seen and

heard the English tenor, Mr Sims Reeves, treat his audience as if composed entirely of pickpockets, and rouse a storm of indignation which

nothing but his matchless voice could ever quell. But Mr Braham should not depend on that reserve, for it might prove treacherous to him.

A hitch at well-regulated concerts is a very unusual occurrence, yet we never find Mr Braham at one but a hitch occurs, and unfortunately

for that gentleman, he is sure to be on the platform at the time. If he is to blame, and he knows best, he should really avoid these trivial

things, and give his musical abilities all the justice he can. A Mr T. G. Kelly appeared as a basso. Of this gentleman’s merits we daresay we

will have another opportunity of speaking. Mrs Alexander presided at the pianoforte. Between the parts the president, Mr Neil McNeill,

made a neat and spirited speech, in which he traced the satisfactory progress the Abstainers’ Union had made in the Saturday Evening

Concerts, and the benefits which must necessarily have been derived by the working classes in particular. He concluded by paying a very

graceful compliment to Mr David Bell in connection with the splendid room in which they were met, and called for three hearty cheers

for that gentleman, which was most enthusiastically responded to. — Mr Bell, in a few characteristic remarks, thanked the audience for

the honour they had done him, and retired amid loud applause.”



The British Newspaper Archive.



George Fairfull-Smith, May 2022.