Sir Henry's hoard

A BBC Radio 3 Music Feature for the Proms season, presented by Stephen Johnson, broadcast on 4 September 2010

In this special feature for the Proms season of 2010, the broadcaster Stephen Johnson explored a 65-volume set of printed European concert programmes - some of which once belonged to Henry J. Wood. Recently found in the basement of the British Library, the collection raises curiosity about how Wood got these programmes or why he would have subscribed to what was essentially a periodical collection. His name as owner can be associated with the issues for 1901-6; the British Library continued subscribing up to 1914.

Johnson discovers that Wood's material, most of it from continental Europe, was part of an even larger scheme begun by the German music publisher Breitkopf & Härtel in 1893 called 'Konzertprogramm Austausch' ('Concert Programme Exchange'). Working like a members' club to advance the company's own list of composers and other products, it lasted until 1941, with circulation extensive in the USA after 1918.

Looking through the collection, Johnson builds up a picture of European concert life in the early 1900s - the well-known performers, new music, trends in early music, increase in women's performance, even typographical and marketing conventions used to attract concert-goers. Along the way, he visits the site of Queen's Hall in Langham Place where Wood made his reputation, and the Hitchin church where his wartime funeral took place.

Contributors include Rupert Ridgewell, Paul Banks and Leanne Langley. The producer was Andrew Green.

'Really enjoyed your thoughts - fascinating insights which bring the whole thing alive'

Andrew Green, writer and broadcaster

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