Birmingham Triennial Music Festival

Birmingham Triennial Music Festival

Birmingham Triennial Music Festival

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The Birmingham Triennial Musical Festival, in Birmingham, England, founded in 1784, was the longest-running classical music festival of its kind. Its last performance was in 1912.


The first music festival, over three days in September 1768, was to help raise funds to complete the new General Hospital on Summer Lane. It proved to be very popular and successful, but it took another event in 1778 to achieve the funds required. The hospital opened September 1779.

From September 1784 the performances became a permanent feature and ran every three years, becoming the Birmingham Triennial Musical Festival, still with the aim of raising funds for the hospital.

Originally hosted in St Philip's Church (later to become the Cathedral) or the Theatre Royale on New Street the available venues became too small for the festival. As a result, the Birmingham Town Hall was built, and opened in 1834 to house it. The festival for 1832 was delayed by two years during its erection.

Vocal works were generally sung in English.

Hans Richter was appointed principal conductor in 1885.


In 1837 Felix Mendelssohn conducted a performance of his St. Paul oratorio, played the organ, and played the piano part in the premiere of his second Piano Concerto, specially commissioned by the Festival. He appeared in the following festival, playing his first Piano Concerto.

For the 1846 festival he composed and conducted the premiere of his oratorio Elijah, another new work commissioned by the...
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