Welcome to Barbirolli Square in central Manchester. These offices and the square itself, complete with Mancunian palm trees, are named after John Barbirolli (1899-1970). He was an English conductor and cellist best remembered for being the conductor of Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra from 1943 to 1970.
When Manchester and music are mentioned most people immediately jump on the bandwagon of the pop, rock and indie scenes. I Am Kloot, Doves, The 1975 and the Courteeners are current famous bands with roots in the original industrial city, but Manchester has been world-renowned for its classical music since the 19th century.
The Hallé Orchestra originated in 1857 thanks to German Karl Halle. Halle anglicised his name to Charles Hallé and the UK’s oldest symphony orchestra (the fourth oldest in the world) was born. Its home was the Free Trade Hall for many years then in the 1990s it moved to the purpose-built Bridgewater Hall, just across from Barbirolli Square. The Hallé vie with the Manchester Camerata and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra across the water at Media City for the title of the city’s leading orchestra. The Bridgewater Hall is an international concert venue which hosts over 250 classical, pop, jazz and world music concerts each year.
Lesser known in the classical world perhaps are Vivaldi’s Manchester Sonatas. These are a set of twelve violin sonatas so named because they were rediscovered in Manchester’s Central Reference Library in 1973 by Michael Talbot.
The priceless 300 year-old volume has either Vivaldi or his father’s own corrections betwixt its gilt-edged, leather bound pages. The Manchester sonatas for violin and continuo performed by Romanesca are available on CD.