Arthur Catterall - The Manchester Years
by Stuart Scott
Spending the greater part of his illustrious career in Manchester, Arthur Catterall was technically equipped for life as a virtuoso but chose instead, a career as an artist equally successful as soloist, orchestra leader and chamber musician. He dedicated much of his time and energy to chamber music and was the founder of a string quartet of great repute.
He was born, on 25 May 1883 at Preston in Lancashire, the youngest child in a family of five. His grandfather had been a professional violinist and his father an amateur player whose activities obviously encouraged Arthur’s first thoughts about music. At the age of four he received a violin from his father who began teaching him to play and it was soon obvious that the boy had a natural feeling for the instrument. After only two years of lessons he was able to entertain at local events. One of the first of these must have been a “Demonstration of Ambulance Knowledge”, given in the Public Hall, Preston on 11 January 1890. The exhibition was interspersed with vocal and instrumental music and, although only six and a half years old, young Arthur stepped up to play selections from Donizetti’s ‘La Figlia del Regimento’ and ‘Il Trovatore’, concluding with a fantasia on ‘Home Sweet Home’. The Preston Chronicle (Saturday 18 January 1890) recorded that “a very young but highly gifted little boy fairly delighted the audience by his performance on the violin”.
However, it wasn’t until July of that same year that young Arthur got his first real taste of working in the professional world. Billed as “Master A. Catterall, the infant Paganini”, he appeared in Manchester at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Old Trafford alongside Hallé’s Arts Treasure Exhibition Orchestra. The following year, mainly through the efforts of his father to promote him, Arthur played at other venues and concerts including Edward de Jong’s concerts in Manchester, the Kendal Exhibition and W. J. Argent’s concerts in Liverpool.
There were numerous charity concerts too, and it was at one such event, in April 1891 that Arthur had the good fortune to meet J. W. Collinson. The event, a Japanese Fancy Fair, took place at the home of James Bowes, the consul for Japan in Liverpool. Collinson was well known to many choral and orchestral societies in Lancashire and adjoining counties, where he was active as conductor, violinist, viola player, pianist and accompanist. He was also conductor of the Preston Orchestral Society and leader at the orchestral concerts of the Liverpool Sunday Society. From 1885 until 1908 he was a member of the Hallé Orchestra. He was a musician of wide experience, but most importantly for Arthur he had a very good reputation as a teacher.
|Master A. Catterall – infant Paganini
Soon after the Japanese Fair event, Arthur became Collinson’s pupil, gaining the benefit of professional teaching for the first time. Through Collinson’s thoroughly practical approach the boy made appearances at orchestral concerts in and around Liverpool and on 28 January 1892 he performed at a Bootle Orchestral Subscription Concert. According to the Preston Chronicle he “received an enthusiastic ovation for his performance”.
Collinson’s orchestra was often engaged to play at celebrations and important events in Liverpool so it is not surprising to find that this little band with its eight and a half year old solo violinist was offered a very important engagement in Preston. Of course, for Collinson and young Arthur, both Prestonians, there was no question of turning down the engagement, even if it was to take place before the closing of the Naval Exhibition.
The important Preston event at which they were to perform was the opening of the Albert Dock by H. R. H. the Duke of Edinburgh on Saturday, 25 June 1892. In the afternoon the Duke attended a luncheon given in his honour at the Public Hall. During the course of the luncheon the Bijou Naval Orchestra, conducted by Collinson, gave a long programme including works by Suppé, Moszkowsky, Mascagni, Thomas, Schubert and others, and young Arthur Catterall offered Alard’s Valse de Concert. Life was certainly busy for one so young. The day before this grand event the young violinist, not yet nine years old, had performed another piece by Alard (Air Varié) and the last two movements of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Robert Jaffrey Forbes (1878-1958) at a concert in Manchester in aid of the Crumpsall Workhouse. Forbes, known as ‘R.J.’, would become a fellow student and often accompanied Arthur in the following years. In 1903 he was appointed staff accompanist at the RMCM, eventually becoming principal after the death of Brodsky.
Having seen his son perform before royalty, Arthur’s father promoted further the talented little boy through the columns of the Musical Times (1 October 1892) rather than the local press, resulting in Arthur’s appearance in Manchester, once again, the following year, where he performed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, as part of a mixed bill, at Manchester Palace of Varieties. In 1893, however, Manchester offered Arthur much more than that. His educators at St. Ignatius Catholic School, Preston were far sighted in putting him forward for entrance to St. Bede’s College. From the day he entered the college, Manchester offered him not only an education but a home, friends, musical training and an illustrious career.
In the early months of 1894 Arthur’s father, possibly through his own efforts or those of his son’s college, took him to play before Lady Hallé. She asked her husband to listen to him and he was so impressed that he soon arranged to place the boy with Willy Hess (1859-1939). So at ten years of age Arthur was taken twice a week by a priest from St. Bede’s to his lessons with Hess who was then leader of the Hallé and the RMCM’s first principal Professor of Violin. Havergal Brian, writing in Musical Opinion (April 1939) remembered Hess as “probably the most striking figure on the concert platform since Paganini”. As an orchestral leader he thought he gave orchestra members a sense of security when playing with him. With Hess, Arthur began to learn how to use his natural talent but he only had the benefit of his teaching for a little less than eighteen months. Willy Hess left Manchester for Cologne and America, later returning to Berlin to succeed Joachim as Head of the Hochschule.
In 1895, Charles Hallé (1819-1995) invited Adolph Brodsky (1851-1929) to become principal of the College of Music and to lead his orchestra. Brodsky quickly became Arthur’s teacher, friend and mentor. At the same time there were new and helpful relationships developing in his school life and domestic circumstances. Arthur was taken into the family of Dr. Joseph Bradley (b.c.1858), physician and surgeon to the School Board, who provided a home at 196 Chapel Street, Salford, paid his school fees and looked after his general welfare.
The arrival of Brodsky in Manchester heralded great changes in the pattern of the city’s music-making. Although he was a renowned soloist and orchestra leader, perhaps his greatest interest was in the performance of chamber music. In 1884 he had formed a string quartet in Leipzig which met with great success and now he lost no time in forming a professional quartet in Manchester. On 11 November 1895, the Brodsky Quartet made its first ever appearance at a Schiller-Anstalt concert in Nelson Street playing a programme of quartets by Brahms and Haydn. At the college, Brodsky started to run quartet and ensemble classes. He managed to pass on his enthusiasm for this kind of music-making to his students, including young Arthur who developed a life-long love for and interest in chamber music.
Catterall made good progress with Brodsky and played well in the RMCM Public Examinations Concerts in July. He was making friends and acquaintances at the college and in professional circles too. He had opportunities of hearing some of the best musicians perform at Hallé Concerts. Perhaps he was present to hear his former teacher, Willy Hess perform Spohr’s Violin Concerto No.9 conducted by Brodsky on 13 February 1896. One of his young friends at that time was John Foulds (1880-1939), cellist and composer, who dedicated an early work, ‘Caprice Pompadour’ for violin and piano (1897), “to my friend Arthur Catterall”. In his notebook, Foulds recorded that it was “the first performance in public of one of my compositions”. It was also the first work to be dedicated to Arthur Catterall. However, for reasons unknown, Rawdon-Briggs (1869-1948), a member of the Brodsky Quartet, actually gave the first performance instead of Catterall who later played the piece many times.
In 1898 Arthur graduated from St. Bede’s College playing two movements from
the Mendelssohn concerto at the end of July and there had already been other
concerts including a trip to St. George’s Hall, Kendal, in April to take
part in the Wakefield Competition and Festival. Nevertheless, Arthur would
undoubtedly have considered the Brodsky Quartet Concert at the Gentlemen’s
Concert Hall, Manchester on 16 February 1898 to have been one of the most
important of the year. The programme included Spohr’s Double Quartet for
strings in E minor Op.87 and in putting together the required second quartet
of players, Brodsky had chosen four pupils from his college. Arthur
Catterall had the honour of leading this quartet, the other players being E.
Hatton (violin), Jack Holme (viola) and Leo Smith (cello), all of whom were
destined for the ranks of the Hallé in the coming years.
|Brodsky Quartet – (l to r) Brodsky, Fuchs, Speelman, Briggs
With this in mind perhaps, Brodsky gifted a violin to Arthur who found himself sitting at the back desk of the second violins when the Hallé season opened later in the year. In that first season Sarasate came to play the Mendelssohn concerto, a work Arthur had played many times and one which he continued to perform for many years to come. Brodsky’s gift, however, was twofold in that he had introduced his pupil to a professional orchestra and given him an instrument more suited to his calling. It is clear from the letter of thanks Arthur sent to his master, dated 18 October 1898, that he was overwhelmed by Brodsky’s actions. As a member of the Hallé Orchestra at the age of seventeen, Catterall was certainly putting more energy into his music-making. Apart from the Hallé commitments he was playing regularly with chamber ensembles and as a soloist. Working in these three different spheres was something he was happy to continue throughout his life.
In January 1900 he was still a student at the College which gave him the opportunity of appearing as soloist at the concerts there, the first of which took place on 15 January. He played Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto in G minor, and according to the Manchester Courier (16 January 1900) “the first and second movements were played with no ordinary skill and revealed the possession of a breadth of tone and accuracy of ear rarely granted to so youthful a virtuoso”. Of the Polonaise by Wieniawsky, which he played at the RMCM Public Examinations Concert on 20 March, the writer for the Guardian (21 March 1900) noted that, “It seldom happens that a young performer attains to such mastery of his instrument while still in the pupil stage”.
At the beginning of December Brodsky invited Arthur to play with his quartet in a performance of Beethoven’s Quintet in C Op.29. The concert at the Association Hall on Peter Street marked a rare occasion when he laid aside his violin for the viola but over the next few years he found himself playing either instrument in many of the larger chamber works with Brodsky. Being appointed to the Hallé’s first violins the following year brought other new responsibilities but at the same time, he continued to expand his solo repertoire, offering the first movement of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in the annual examination concert at the College on 18 March 1902. It was described by the writer in The Harvest (April 1902) as, “a brilliant and masterly performance”. At the Open Practice Concert in June he played Bach’s Chaconne, a Brodsky favourite. Both these works remained favourites of Catterall’s in the years ahead.
Recognizing the qualities of his young first violinist, Hans Richter (1843-1916) took him to Bayreuth where he was to conduct at the Festival in 1902. Arthur played in the Festival Orchestra there and also at Cosima Wagner’s musical evenings before returning to Manchester in good time for the new Hallé season.
The following year Catterall’s first attempt to put together a string quartet resulted in a concert at the Royal Technical Institute, Salford, on 28 March 1903, in which his new-found accompanist, R.J. Forbes, assisted. There was nothing permanent about the combination of string players (A.Catterall, violin, A.Stewart, violin, W.Faunt, viola, F.A.Greenwood, cello) who were all Hallé colleagues, but it indicates perhaps that Catterall was beginning to think about forming his own quartet at about this time. In 1903 there was also an increase in the number of appearances he made at charity concerts. Charitable work was always a feature of his music-making and demonstrates the generosity of his character. He often donated his services at these events.
|Catterall Quartet, 1911 (l to r) Catterall, O’Malley, Reggel, Hock
The year 1904 was marked by Catterall’s debut as soloist with three different orchestras. A large audience awaited him when he appeared at the Pavilion Concerts, Llandudno on 8 September to deputise for T. Southworth, a Hallé colleague. There he played Bruch’s Violin Concerto in G minor with fine technique, tone and feeling and the audience felt moved to applause after the first movement. Two days later the Llandudno Advertiser reported that, “Mr Catterall must have been highly pleased with the reception accorded him. Those who had not heard him previously were astounded at the masterly rendering of Max Bruch’s Concerto in G minor … at the finale the members of the orchestra to a man, vied with the audience in testifying their delight”. The orchestra was conducted by Arthur Payne who was obviously impressed by the young Catterall. He invited him to return the following month and also helped arrange Arthur’s London debut at the Queen’s Hall with the Stock Exchange Orchestral Society on 9 December.
On that occasion Catterall chose to perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and was recalled several times to the platform amidst enthusiastic applause on conclusion. The writer in the Yorkshire Post had some reservations about his tone which he found thin in quality but went on to say that, “it was pure and true, and his executive ability is such that he appeared easily to surmount the difficulties of the solo part”.
Having triumphed in Llandudno and London he was back in Manchester a week later to perform the same concerto with the Hallé Orchestra. It must have been a special concert for him as his master, Adolph Brodsky, led the orchestra; and after all, it was Brodsky’s concerto too. The performance was received well and Catterall played with confidence – “not only was he equal at all points to the persistent and taxing demands made on his technique, but he maintained throughout a correct and sympathetic intonation”.(Manchester Guardian, 16 December 1904).
However well known as a soloist Catterall was becoming, it was his interest in chamber music that was taking on a more important role in his music-making. He had already appeared with various players and singers in and around Manchester which included the Brodsky Concerts of course, and when the Brahms Sextet in B flat Op.18 was given at the Midland Hall on 5 April 1905, “the parts of second viola and second cello were capably played by Messrs Arthur Catterall and William Warburton respectively and the two young players fully justified the confidence placed in them by Dr Brodsky” (Manchester Courier, 6 April 1905).
The following month Catterall appeared with the Rawdon Briggs Quartet at Holy Innocents Church, Fallowfield, the gem of the evening being his performance of Spohr’s Duet for two violins which he played with Briggs. It would be some time yet before Catterall appeared with his own quartet in Manchester but chamber music was gaining momentum in the city and not only with Brodsky and Rawdon Briggs but with smaller ensembles formed by college students and members of the Hallé, not to mention the formation of the first professional all-ladies quartet in Manchester, the Edith Robinson Quartet. Edith Robinson (1867-1940) who had been a pupil of Brodsky in Leipzig during the 1880s returned to her home in Manchester to form an ensemble of great renown whose repertoire was extensive. They usually tried to play one new work at each concert and they were the first to introduce the Debussy Quartet to a Manchester audience.
Catterall now had his eye on London again and on 20 May 1905, he appeared at the Salle Erard in a recital which made a good impression on the Manchester Guardian critic who confirmed that, “His readings are all sound and consistent, and he has plenty of spirit … he phrases artistically, while he refrains from exaggeration and eccentricity”. Catterall’s London appearances soon became more regular through his engagement as leader of Henry Wood’s Queen’s Hall Promenade Concerts, a post he held from 1904 to 1914. Wood (1869-1944) had met Catterall some years earlier in Kendal. There he heard him play and marked him down for future reference, considering he would make a splendid leader. The intervening years had obviously not altered Wood’s opinion of him.
Towards the end of the year he was back in Manchester for performances of concertos by Mendelssohn and Bruch. Simon Speelman (1852-1920) conducted the opening of the Promenade Concerts at the Free Trade Hall on 2 October 1905, Catterall playing Bruch’s Concerto in G minor with much eloquence and beauty of tone. At Bradford on 10 November he was playing second violin parts as a member of the Rawdon Briggs Quartet once again, but he was now much closer to forming his own quartet which came with the chance of a short series of concerts in Burnley, to take place in January and February the following year.
Catterall’s new quartet was no ad hoc ensemble. He knew the other members well, all being Hallé players. He had often played alongside the cellist, William Warburton, most notably at Brodsky Quartet Concerts. Jack Holme played viola and Ernest O’Malley, second violin. O’Malley was born in Burnley but lived for many years in Blackburn. He did much to promote the quartet in Lancashire towns. Although there were to be changes in future personnel of this quartet, it was without doubt, Catterall’s own and the beginning of what was to become a very successful and well respected chamber ensemble.
The first of their concerts at Burnley took place on Tuesday 16 January 1906 at the Church Institute, a formal affair with evening dress specified and carriages awaiting at 9.45pm. However, it was the second concert of the series on 20 February which drew high praise from the writer in the Burnley Express (24 February 1906). Here we are told that William Warburton played three short solos “with commendable precision”, and that the playing of Tchaikovsky’s Quartet Op.11 was characterised by a considerable amount of expression. Nevertheless, the writer did not note that for the second concert, Jack Holme had been replaced by Thomas Barrett, another Hallé viola player. Seemingly, the change of personnel had no adverse effect on the quartet’s performance and Barrett retained his position (until 1911) for the next five years. It is reported that after one of their early concerts in Burnley, a cotton magnate’s wife, proud promoter of some of the first chamber concerts in her town, poured many congratulations upon Catterall. “You will have to come again”, she said, “and if we do as well as we did tonight you will be able to bring a bigger band next time”.
Catterall had reason to be pleased with his quartet’s first outing but as winter concerts gave way to spring festivals and summer music at the seaside, he continued his solo appearances at such events. After a concert at the Westmorland Musical Festival in April 1906 the Yorkshire Post reported, “The violin solos of Mr Arthur Catterall were a striking feature of the concert”. Catterall had first appeared at the festival as a juvenile prodigy years before and the writer noted that though still young he had developed into a mature artist with “ample execution, good tone and real musical feeling”.
At the height of Blackpool’s summer season Catterall played at two North Pier Concerts with Simon Speelman. At the first, on Friday 10 August, he gave the Mendelssohn Concerto, his interpretation marked by breadth, character and true poetic feeling according to the Manchester Guardian (13 August 1906). At the same concert he also played two of his favourite short pieces which never left his repertoire – Tchaikovsky’s Mélodie from Op.42 and Perpetuum Mobile by Novacek. These two pieces were often played by Catterall as a complimentary pair of encores. The Novacek piece displayed his admirable technique whilst the Tchaikovsky demonstrated his refinement and more poetic aspects of his playing. The second of the Blackpool North Pier Concerts on Saturday 11 August also included a work which Catterall played throughout his career and in the gramophone era it proved to be one of his most successful and popular recordings. He played Bach’s Concerto for two violins with Speelman and the work of the two soloists was noted as being especially fine.
A week later he was on his way to London again where the Queen’s Hall Promenade Concerts began on Saturday 18 August. Towards the end of the season (Thursday 17 October) he made a solo appearance with a performance of the first movement of Joachim’s Hungarian Concerto. The following day the Guardian reported that, “he had played brilliantly, his phrasing and intonation being excellent throughout”. On this occasion he was warmly complimented by audience and orchestra bringing to a close a triumphant season in London.
On returning home, Catterall’s winter engagements included the usual mix of Brodsky Quartet Concerts, Promenade Concerts and charity events such as the Preston Orchestral Society’s concert on 1 January 1907. He played solos with their newly formed orchestra of 80 players conducted by Edward Peretz. In Manchester he took part in the Brodsky Quartet’s eleventh season of concerts at the Midland Hall on 9 January, playing in a performance of an octet by Richard Strauss. The additional violinist was Edith Robinson. Mary McCullagh, a member of Robinson’s quartet, was the cellist and the dependable Helen Rawdon Briggs played viola.
The following month Catterall had charity work of an unusual nature in hand when he, R. J. Forbes, Edward Isaacs and several other ex-students of the RMCM, held a meeting at the college to discuss the need for a club for former students which might enable them to assist each other in continuing their studies and professional work. A signed letter was sent to the Manchester Guardian (published 13 March 1907) expressing their views in the hope of support. Catterall always valued the kindness and assistance of others and was always ready to offer the same. As far as can be ascertained, he never thought ill of anyone and got on well with colleagues. He was ever ready to support charitable causes.
On 26 June 1907, Manchester Courier announced that Catterall and Edith Robinson had been appointed violin teachers at the RMCM, following the resignations of Rawdon Briggs and T. W. Poulter. The two new professors, products of Brodsky’s teaching, were well placed to continue his ideals in their college work as much as through their own professional work. With solo performances, orchestral playing, chamber music and now teaching, Catterall’s life was busy. Nevertheless, following the success of his quartet concerts in Burnley the previous year, he now continued to hone the ensemble into something approaching his model – the Brodsky Quartet.
At the end of the year he took his new found string quartet to Frodsham where they distinguished themselves at the Frodsham Choral Society’s concert on 18 December. Haydn and Beethoven quartets were performed along with a few solos efficiently accompanied by Mildred Bradley(b.1884), daughter of Dr Joseph Bradley. Nevertheless, The Drill Hall in Frodsham proved to be one of the many difficult venues Catterall would encounter in the course of his concert giving. Two broken E strings and a snapped bridge caused by the unsuitable heat and atmosphere of the room hampered his progress. However, the inconvenience did not influence the appreciation shown by the audience and the local press who considered it a brilliantly successful concert.
The Burnley Chamber Concerts 1908-09 season continued in conjunction with those in Preston on the preceding night at which the same programme was given by the same performers. On 17 March 1908 the Catterall Quartet appeared once again at the Church Institute, Burnley in a programme shared and assisted by Edward Isaacs(1881-1953) who played the piano part in Dvorak’s Quintet in A. Isaacs also contributed solos by Chopin and Liszt before offering his own Staccato Caprice as an encore. A pianist of some calibre Isaacs had attended Manchester Grammar School before becoming a student at the RMCM in 1894 and after 1903 continued his studies in Germany and Austria. Catterall valued his musicianship and was associated with him on numerous occasions in future years.
February 1909 was particularly busy and interesting for him. At the Hallé concert on 11 February he gave the first Manchester performance of Goldmark’s Violin Concerto under Franz Beidler. He also played Novacek’s Perpetuum Mobile again and the Guardian critic was quick to note that sentimental associations had now made this piece a favourite with Brodsky pupils.
On Wednesday 24 February Catterall took part in the Brodsky Concert at the Midland Hall, standing in at short notice for Rawdon Briggs who was indisposed. The next day he took his own quartet to Leeds, where at the Albert Hall they took part in a Grand Debussy Concert given by the Parisian Quartet with Madame L. Wormser-Delcourt(harp), Ricardo Vines(piano) and Mdlle H. M. Luquiens(soprano). The programme included Danses for double string quartet, harp and double bass and the Quartet in G minor. Whilst waiting for their turn to play, the members of the Catterall Quartet must have listened to the French players with interest, their performance of the Quartet in G minor prompting them to include the work in their own repertoire in later years. Herbert Thompson, writing in the Yorkshire Post the next day, reported, “The sensitiveness and extreme delicacy with which Messrs Willaume, Morel, Macon and Feuillard played the music was remarkable, and they made many of the rough places plain by the polish and ease of their performance”. He went on to say that, “their pianissimos were wonderful, clear and sustained, yet as delicate as it was possible to make them”. The French visitors repeated their concert at the Midland Hall, Manchester on 2 March. Debussy himself was to conduct his Danses at this concert but was prevented by illness. Catterall would have been disappointed not to have met Debussy but he probably came away from the two French concerts with idea of trying out the Quartet in G minor with his own ensemble and having absorbed something of the French interpretation too.
He was soloist in the Brahms Violin Concerto on March 18 at the Hallé Pension Fund Concert, conducted by Richter, his performance prompting Samuel Langford to proclaim that, “Mr Arthur Catterall has become one of the most perfect of violin players, and very rarely is any concerto given with such beauty of tone and purity of intonation”.(Guardian 19 March 1909) His reputation as a soloist was now assured but there was much to do before he felt ready to bring his own quartet into the city for an extended concert series. Whatever there was left to do would have to wait until a busy summer was over.
Catterall’s marriage to Mildred Bradley, on 25 May 1909 brought new responsibilities and much happiness in to his life. Mildred, daughter of Catterall’s benefactor, Dr Joseph Bradley, was a pianist and understood the musician’s lot. She had already acted as accompanist at two of his concerts in 1907. On their wedding day, at the early hour of 8.00am, and despite the persistent rain, invited guests and friends gathered in the side chapel of the Cathedral Church of St. John, where they were married by the Bishop of Salford. Herbert P. Allen (1858-1951?), Catterall’s music master at St. Bede’s College, was his best man. Catterall was always loyal to his Catholic upbringing but never sought to convince others of its worth. He didn’t readily discuss his religion with fellow musicians, so strong was the prejudice against Catholics in the northern towns where he spent much of his professional life. However, after the wedding ceremony his numerous guests and friends assembled at Dr Bradley’s house in Acton Square, Salford for the wedding breakfast. At midday the newlyweds left for London where they spent a short honeymoon. There were other reasons to be in London too as Catterall had to prepare for the Queen’s Hall concerts which were to begin in August. For the 1909 season he was leader for no less than sixty concerts.
It was to be a few months before he could think of chamber music again but by November he was ready to play trios with Carl Fuchs (1865-1951) and Edward Isaacs. The three friends formed what was to become a permanent ensemble named The Manchester Trio. Before the end of the year they had given concerts at Queen’s University, Belfast and at Southport where they performed Isaacs’s own Trio in E flat.
In February 1910, the Catterall Quartet, along with R. J. Forbes, was back at Burnley to give Franck’s Piano Quintet on the 8th. The Manchester Guardian’s Samuel Langford complimented the players in saying, “the quartet sounds as an equal body of players”. He, if nobody else, began to realise the importance of Brodsky’s college of music in writing, “No one can appreciate fully the good influence of our Royal Manchester College of Music who has not followed with interest the growth of chamber concerts in our Lancashire towns in recent years. They are given chiefly by its students”.
A week later, Catterall temporarily abandoned his own quartet in order to assist Brodsky in a concert for the Newcastle Chamber Music Society. He played viola again, replacing Speelman who had influenza and Alfred Barker, future Hallé leader, made up the ensemble for a performance of Mozart’s Quintet No.5 in C. Not surprisingly, the writer in the Yorkshire Post, on Wednesday 16 February 1910, complained that in none of the first three movements was the balance of the instruments sustained throughout. However, he conceded that the finale was beautifully played.
Another ensemble with which Catterall associated himself at this time was the Anglo-Dutch String Quartet organized by the cellist, Johan C. Hock (1876-1946) who before coming to Britain had been a member of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. He put much energy into arranging chamber concerts in Walsall and Birmingham. He and the viola player, David Reggel also played with Max Mossel’s quartet. Catterall brought along Ernest O’Malley from his own quartet to play second violin and together they gave concerts at the Victoria Rooms, Bristol, occasionally. By March the following year they were recognized by the writer in the Walsall Advertiser (25 March 1911) as being a perfect ensemble with unity of purpose. “It is very evident”, he continued, “that here we have a combination which should go a long way towards perfect finality in string quartet playing”.
The following month the quartet appeared at Queen’s College, Birmingham, now renamed the Catterall Quartet. The four members of the ensemble, Catterall, O’Malley, Reggel and Hock, remained together for the next four years. A report of the concert in The Strad (June 1911) noted that, “the four musicians spoke with one voice. The tone produced was purely blended. Mr Catterall’s playing is obviously that of a born quartet leader”.
Nevertheless, by this time changes were taking place in Catterall’s domestic life as well as in his quartet. With the birth of his first daughter, Marian, in Spring 1910, it had been necessary to move away from the city grime to Ashton-on-Mersey, easily reached by the Cheshire Railway line from Manchester’s Central Station.
In the city at the beginning of 1911 there were concerts with The Manchester Trio and Catterall soon acquired a violin made by Jean Baptiste Vuillaume (c.1843) which had belonged to Ferdinand David. He put it to work taking advantage of new venues and opportunities. The Ancoats Brotherhood introduced a regular series of chamber concerts at the New Islington Hall, Ancoats, Manchester, these mostly given by Hallé players and College staff or ex-students. The Brotherhood was founded in 1878 by Charles Rowley(1839-1933) with the aim of bringing the arts to the working classes. Brodsky was pleased to arrange the music performances as Rowley and others were subscribers to College activities. On 22 January 1911, Catterall and Edward Isaacs went along to New Islington Hall for the first time to provide music for the day. With Rowley presiding, they quietly listened to Hilaire Belloc lecturing on “Can a great nation govern itself?” before playing a single note.
Work with the Manchester Trio continued a week later with an outing to Sheffield. The Sheffield Chamber Music Society welcomed the ensemble at the King’s Head Hotel where they performed trios by Schubert, Brahms and Haydn and at the Schiller-Anstalt Concert in Manchester on 26 February another substantial programme was offered including trios by Dvorak and Brahms. Catterall and Isaacs played musically in the trios and Carl Fuchs was congratulated on his management of the concert series. The Manchester Trio was beginning to mirror the rapidly growing reputation of the Catterall Quartet. After a further appearance with the trio on 29 June, at the Association Hall on Peter Street, Catterall left for London for yet another season of Promenade Concerts with Henry Wood.
At the start of the winter season the Manchester Trio found themselves back at New Islington Hall, Ancoats and at a Schiller-Anstalt Concert during the last week of November. The Ancoats Brotherhood Concert on 29 October included Dvorak’s Dumky Trio and Beethoven’s Concerto in C Op.56. It was a first outing for the concerto in which the three players were to appear at the Liverpool Symphony Orchestra Concerts on 14 November 1911, and an indicator perhaps of Catterall’s enthusiasm for the ensemble and its gaining reputation.
However, he never felt more at home than with his own quartet and on 17 November they continued their visits to Birmingham giving works by Beethoven and Brahms. Once again, the outstanding qualities of the ensemble were noted by the writer in The Strad (December 1911) who reported, “Extraordinary perfection of tone-blend, perfect unanimity of phrasing to the minutest detail, absolute reciprocal sympathy, these are the characteristics of the Catterall Quartet”. Their next visit to Birmingham on 5 December included new repertoire. The performance of Richard Strauss’s Quartet in A Op.2 prompted the writer in Musical Times (January 1912) to say, “It was a genuine pleasure to listen to such a perfect ensemble – indeed, this quartet is one of the very best organizations in the country”.
The following day Catterall joined the accomplished pianist, John Wills in an evening recital at St. Bede’s College. John Wills was to give further recitals with Catterall and was to replace Isaacs as pianist with The Manchester Trio in the 1920’s. He had been a student at the RMCM studying with Egon Petri(1881-1962) and became a professor there himself in 1921. In 1935 he joined the BBC as staff accompanist.
With the coming of a new year, Catterall’s responsibilities, solo appearances and chamber music concerts were about to increase. On Saturday 6 January 1912 he tried out the first movement of Strauss’s Violin Concerto in D minor Op.8 at a Promenade Concert at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester. The following September he played the full work at the Queen’s Hall and the Guardian critic confirmed the success he had gained, in saying, “Mr Catterall gave an admirable performance of the work. The most notable thing, however, was not the technical excellence, but the warmth of the expression, the sympathy, with which Mr Catterall met every little phrase”. (Guardian 19 September 1912)
Audiences in Birmingham were increasing at chamber music concerts in 1912 and the Catterall Quartet gave a series of six concerts. This situation had long been campaigned for by the quartet’s cellist, Johan C. Hock. Furthermore, he had been pushing for the formation of a new Birmingham Conservatoire of Music, which was about to go ahead. A feature was to be made of chamber music classes, Catterall and Hock being appointed to the staff.
On 14 February, the Catterall Quartet gave the first Birmingham performance of Debussy’s Quartet and Hock’s cello playing in the ‘Andantino’ received great praise from the writer in The Strad (March 1912). They returned on the 12 March with a programme of works by Beethoven and Brahms, and again, The Strad (April 1912) maintained that, “The members of the Catterall Quartet completely disarm criticism by the uninterrupted perfection of their work”. The formation of the Birmingham Chamber Concerts Society at this time, and enthusiastic audiences, secured the Catterall Quartet as a permanent institution in Birmingham for many years to come.
Their reputation was equally celebrated in the Lancashire town of Burnley where they appeared on Wednesday 6 March, offering a programme of Beethoven quartets, for which viola player, Frank Park replaced Thomas Barrett. In the same month The Manchester Trio played at the Milton Hall, Manchester in the last of a series of chamber concerts organized by Carl Fuchs, and at the Rodewald Concert Club, Liverpool where they offered trios by Brahms, Goldmark and Schubert.
As usual, the summer months were spent in London. In September Catterall led the Queen’s Hall Orchestra in a first performance of Music Pictures Group III by one of his Manchester friends, John Foulds, and almost at the end of the season, on 8 October 1912 he was soloist in the first performance of Coleridge-Taylor’s Violin Concerto. The critic in the Observer was not convinced of the quality of the work but recognised that it was very ably presented by the soloist.
The winter months brought the usual concert work in Manchester and a monthly concert at the Orchestral Promenade Concerts in Sheffield where Catterall led an orchestra of sixty players directed by J. A. Rogers. A concerto and a symphony was played at each concert and Catterall was soloist in at least one of the concertos during the season. On 15 November, The Manchester Trio played works by Brahms and Schubert at a Wakefield Chamber Concert and at the end of the month they announced that the trio would give the first Manchester performance of Reger’s Trio in E minor Op.102 the following April. As it turned out it would be December 1913 before the performance took place. No doubt the complexities of Reger’s music demanded more rehearsal time.
|Wigmore Hall programme
The work of the Catterall Quartet continued throughout 1913-14 at venues outside Manchester and David Reggel, now principal viola with the Hallé, became a permanent member of the quartet. Catterall seemed somehow reluctant to bring his quartet into Manchester, either out of respect for Brodsky or simply making sure that his ensemble functioned well enough to stand side by side with those of Brodsky, Briggs and Edith Robinson. However, his work with The Manchester Trio kept the interest of Manchester audiences with a performance of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto at the Gentlemen’s Concert on 13 January 1913, directed by recently appointed Hallé conductor, Michael Balling. There was also the promised first Manchester performance of Reger’s Trio which finally took place on Wednesday 10 December at New Islington Hall, Ancoats. On that occasion, Langford didn’t have much to say about the music but merely stated that, “The Manchester Trio always gives a sense of great satisfaction to the listener from the feeling that technically all three players have plenty of ability to spare”. (Guardian 11 December 1913)
Undoubtedly one of the most important engagements in 1913 was Catterall’s solo appearance at the Queen’s Hall during the last week in September when he performed the Busoni Violin Concerto. According to the Observer 28 September 1913) he played splendidly. It is apparent that his solo repertoire seemed to include works not within the scope or interest of the average player. The previous year he had performed the concertos of Goldmark and Strauss. Even the Tchaikovsky concerto, which Catterall helped to popularize, was not staple fair for soloists of the day.
|Arthur Catterall, soloist
Most soloists find it necessary to abandon orchestral work at an early stage in their career but Catterall embraced orchestral leadership and solo work with equal enthusiasm. In May 1913 he was appointed leader of the Liverpool Philharmonic whilst at the same time he held the leadership of the Brand Lane Symphony Orchestra and the Queen’s Hall Orchestra. The following year he was appointed Hallé leader in succession to Rawdon Briggs who resigned in order to pursue solo and quartet playing. Catterall’s first season as leader opened on Thursday 15 October 1914 and the Yorkshire Post noted, “That the appointment is popular was shown by the demonstration that greeted his appearance, and, indeed, Manchester has reason to be proud of a musician of its own creation who has become perhaps the most artistic of our native violinists”.
Earlier in the year, with the outbreak of war, Brodsky was detained as a prisoner of war in Austria where he had been appearing as soloist and Catterall took on his violin pupils at the college. Changes had to be made in the scheduled concerts for The Manchester Trio too, as Carl Fuchs was also detained in Germany. For their November engagement at the Ancoats Chamber Concerts Catterall and Isaacs took on the whole programme offering Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata and Isaacs’s own Violin Sonata in place of trios. The Manchester Trio was reconstituted, with cellist William Warburton standing in for the absent Carl Fuchs, on 25 January 1915, when they played for the Rodewald Music Club in Liverpool. The programme included the new Trio in E flat by Edward Isaacs, considered by the writer in Musical Times (March 1915) as, “a melodious work of sustained interest”.
Catterall kept up his solo work throughout 1915 with appearances at Hallé and Queen’s Hall concerts and on 24 February he was joined by R. J. Forbes at the Houldsworth Hall, Manchester, to give the first performance of Delius’s Violin Sonata. Begun in 1905 (movements 1 and 2) and completed in 1915, Beecham tells us that the work was written for Catterall and Forbes. However, the score bears no dedication. Delius was present at the concert and the Sonata was repeated at the end of the programme. The Manchester Courier (25 February 1915) reported that, “Mr Catterall and Mr Forbes played the work finely, the resonant, pulsing tone of the former lending the utmost imaginable rhetorical force to the work”. The same performers gave the first London performance at a meeting of the Music Club held at the Grafton Galleries on 29 April 1915. Once again, Delius was present and the work was beautifully played, the performers being complimented by the composer.
The Catterall Quartet travelled to Birmingham to open the new season of chamber concerts on 12 October 1915. The viola player, David Reggel had gone to work in America bringing about further quartet personnel changes. The resourceful Ernest O’Malley now replaced him and John Bridge (1872-1945) joined the ensemble as second violinist. Bridge was leader of the Hallé’s second violins and knew Catterall and O’Malley well. Catterall and Bridge shared a teacher in Willy Hess and they were both very active chamber musicians and soloists. After the quartet’s first concert, The Strad (November 1915) offered encouraging words saying, “The alteration makes surprisingly little difference to the balance of the quartet”. Two months later Catterall took his players to a venue he had avoided for so long. On 6 December the Catterall Quartet made their first appearance in Manchester playing works by Mozart, Debussy and Brahms. Of course, they were well received and whatever misgivings Catterall may have had about presenting his quartet to Manchester audiences were well and truly laid to rest.
Arthur Catterall and R. J. Forbes were due for military service in 1916. However, Brodsky and J. A Forsyth appeared before the tribunal and made a successful appeal for their exemption. Catterall moved back into the city and now resided at Addison Terrace, Victoria Park, in a house close to the College. His quartet gave further performances in Manchester and was firmly established by the end of the year with a series of winter concerts at the Midland Hall and appearances at the Houldsworth Hall in Midday Concerts. Catterall and Forbes put much energy into recitals in aid of war charities including the East Lancashire Disabled Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Homes and the East Lancashire Red Cross Hospital at Worsley Hall.
Nevertheless, the Birmingham Chamber Concerts were not neglected. On 3 October, Catterall and John Bridge gave a performance of Bach’s Concerto for two violins with Appleby Matthews. It was described in the Birmingham Daily Mail as, “a remarkably graphic and virile performance”. The work was repeated at the Houldsworth Hall, Manchester on 12 January 1917, this time accompanied by Forbes, at a concert in aid of disabled sailors and soldiers, a reminder of the horror of war, which came closer to home nearer the end of the month when Catterall learned that his brother-in-law, Bob Bradley (1894-1917), had been killed in action, aged 23. Charity concerts at the Houldsworth Hall and other venues were a regular feature throughout 1917, Catterall and Forbes appearing more than most other musicians.
Having taken the opportunity of making his debut as conductor, at a Promenade Concert with Myra Hess, at the Free Trade Hall on 27 January, Catterall set about preparing the quartet for a visit to London. There they appeared at the Leighton House Concerts for the first time on 8 February, returning to Manchester in time for Catterall and Forbes to play at the Houldsworth Hall charity concert at 1.00pm the next day.
Ernest O’Malley, who had done sterling work for the Catterall Quartet as concert organizer, second violin and viola player, was replaced by Hallé viola player Frank Park (1886-1956). Catterall, Bridge, Park and Hock were to play together for the next ten years, raising the quartet to its greatest height. The ensemble was going from strength to strength, constantly adding to its repertoire. On 9 May they made their first visit to Cambridge where they played Beethoven, Mozart and Wolf to an appreciative audience, and of their performance of Beethoven’s Quartet in E flat Op.127 at the winter concerts in Manchester, Samuel Langford noted that, “the quartet had reached an extraordinary perfection”.
Catterall received a letter dated 9 July 1918, from William E. Hill & Sons of London, offering him a Stradivarius violin at the cost £1400. He was also informed of the intention to set up a fund to defray the cost of its acquisition. Catterall tried out the instrument six days later at a benefit concert given at the Free Trade Hall in aid of the French Red Cross and the Alsace-Lorraine Benevolent Society. Langford reported that, “Mr Catterall played on a fresh violin – a long Stradivarius of magical purity and lightness. No instrument could have set in a more fascinating light the player’s marvellous execution”. (Guardian 16 July 1918) The instrument suited him and before long it became his treasured possession.
Putting it to work in October 1918 he appeared as soloist at two Beecham Promenade Concerts given at the New Queen’s Theatre (now Opera House) on Quay Street, playing concertos by Lalo and Brahms before joining his friend and quartet member, John Bridge, for a performance of Bach’s Double Concerto at a Hallé Concert on 23 November. On that same day the two soloists had already played at an afternoon concert as members of the Catterall Quartet.
The quartet ended their year in triumph on 16 December performing for the Rodewald Society in Liverpool. Ferrata’s Quartet in G and piano quintets by Dvorak and Arensky drew one of the largest audiences in the society’s history to date. Their engagements increased and the following year commentators were quick to mention the quartet’s high level of artistry. The size of their audiences was a testimony to the growing reputation of the players and in Birmingham their concerts continued to form one of the local successes in music. There, audiences had grown since the beginning of their association with the city and by 1920 they were playing to an average audience of about 250 persons. After the opening meeting of the British Music Society in Manchester on 1 October 1920, Samuel Langford was moved to write, "The quartet has never shown itself a more finely balanced body”. (Guardian 2 October 1920)
There were more chamber concerts than solo appearances for Catterall in 1919, and an interest in Elgar’s chamber works showed itself in concerts given between April and November of that year. On 15 April he gave the first Manchester performance of Elgar’s Violin Sonata with Hamilton Harty in an afternoon concert at the Houldsworth Hall. The Elgar Quartet was first performed in Manchester by the Catterall Quartet at another afternoon concert on 27 May and was then repeated in Preston on 14 November, receiving a further performance at the first concert promoted by the Rochdale Concerts Society three days later. Elgar’s Piano Quintet had a hearing at a Birmingham concert with pianist, Marjorie Sotham on 4 October and a month later (3 November) the first Manchester performance of the work was given by the same players.
Although the Catterall Quartet were responsible for an enormous amount of chamber music in the city, there were still audiences keen to hear other ensembles. Apart from those already mentioned, there were pupils and graduates of the College forming chamber ensembles for specific occasions. For example, Jo Lamb and Kathleen Moorhouse (Walter Hatton’s pupil) joined Edward Isaacs to give the Tuesday Midday Concert on 9 March 1920. Manchester’s overwhelming interest and opportunity in chamber music at this time was most certainly due to Brodsky’s inspiration, good teaching at the College and Catterall’s leadership.
Nevertheless, the healthy position in which chamber music found itself, could have taken a turn for the worse by August 1920 when Catterall was offered the appointment of Concert Master of the Boston Symphony. He certainly considered the opportunity carefully, until finally refusing the offer in January 1921. The Guardian (8 January 1921) announced the news and added that, “Catterall is now leader of possibly the finest quartet in the country. We are not ready to part with him”.
For Catterall and his quartet members, 1921 brought an opportunity which was to secure a new and ever widening audience. Their first recordings for HMV were made in November and issued to great acclaim. There was a quartet concert at the Wigmore Hall the day after the recording sessions with the Gramophone Company and many more engagements throughout the year including those at Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Dublin. In addition to his orchestral duties, Catterall still found time to appear as soloist, most notably giving the first Manchester performance of Harty’s Violin Concerto at a Hallé Concert on 3 March, having already played it in Liverpool two days before.
The next few years would continue on the course already set with Tuesday Midday Concerts, recitals with Harty, visits to Cambridge, Dublin, Burnley and Birmingham. There were more recordings for HMV in May 1922 and for the members of the quartet it was a busy life. Some of the travelling must have been exhausting at times. For example, in 1923, they were in Dublin for an afternoon concert on 15 January and back in Manchester ready to perform at the Midday Concert the following day. On that occasion, there was a huge audience waiting to welcome them back and Langford wrote, “The enthusiasm displayed by the public over the performances of the Catterall Quartet is one of the most gratifying signs of musical appreciation to be found in Manchester music”.
The quartet had reached a high point of fine playing, their recordings and travels adding to their fame. Partly through their efforts, chamber music in Manchester had never reached such a high standard or maintained such a high profile, and there were good audiences for concerts other than those given by the Catterall Quartet too. By the end of 1923 there was to be found, in and around the city, performances by The Edith Robinson Quartet (Edith Robinson, Gertrude Barker, Hilda Lindsay, Kathleen Moorhouse), The Edith Robinson Trio (Edith Robinson, Carl Fuchs, Frank Merrick), The Don Hyden Trio (Don Hyden, Sydney Wright, Miss Blumenthal), The Brodsky Quartet (Brodsky, Alfred Barker, Helen Rawdon Briggs, Walter Hatton), The Jo Lamb Trio (Jo Lamb, Annie Shore, John Wills), The Voorsanger Quartet (Hallé players), and others. In addition, visits were made by the Copenhagen Quartet, The Lener Quartet and The Russian Trio.
That same year there were solo appearances for three members of the Catterall Quartet. At the Hallé concert on Thursday, 15 February, Arthur Catterall appeared alongside Guilhermina Suggia (1888-1950) in the Double Concerto by Brahms. However, the programme opened with a performance of Harold in Italy by Berlioz. Frank Park was the viola soloist. Later in the year (29 November 1923) Harty conducted Bach’s Concerto for two violins with Catterall and John Bridge as soloists. The following April they recorded it for Columbia and a large number of copies were sold. Catterall and Bridge were well matched players who understood one another and the enthusiastic reviewer in The Strad (March 1925) didn’t fail to note the complete unanimity with which they played together.
At the RMCM Annual Meeting in December 1923 Catterall was chosen to be among the first ten Honorary Fellows of the College, recognizing his all round contribution to the musical life of the institution and the city, but through his column in the Guardian, Samuel Langford expressed a wish for something more. After a quartet concert given at the Memorial Hall in January 1923, he had written of “a growing belief in fair claims to some international celebrity”. He was delighted when it was announced in the Guardian on 10 July 1924 that the quartet was to visit Poland, Russia and Berlin in January of the following year. “Manchester admirers of the quartet will think that this recognition of its abilities has not come before it is well deserved”, he wrote.
The tour went ahead as planned and the quartet gave concerts in Berlin, Crakow, Warsaw,, Moscow and the Ukrainian towns of L’viv and Kiev. They returned in triumph about the middle of month to give concerts in Birmingham (14 Jan), Leeds (17 Jan) and Manchester (22 Jan) leaving Catterall little time to prepare for his solos at Hallé Concerts on 22 and 30 January.
The quartet travelled to Dublin, once again, on 16 February 1925 and the writer in the Irish Independent found, “the playing of the Catterall Quartet had indescribable charm, and the essential feeling of spontaneity”. They were, clearly, still on top form but changes were in the air when two days later it was announced in the press that Catterall would resign the leadership of the Hallé at the end of the season. It had long been known to his friends and colleagues that through personal sentiment and attachment to the orchestra, he had held on to the post perhaps longer than he should have, resulting in his solo career suffering somewhat. Confirmation of this idea was approached by the Guardian writer on 27 April after Catterall’s recital with Harty at the Wigmore Hall, London. “It would be difficult to name an English performing musician more deserving of an international reputation than Arthur Catterall”, he commented. Indeed, throughout the summer months and the early days of the following winter, Catterall kept himself busy with solo recitals, quartet concerts and broadcasts from 2LO and 5XX, London and Daventry wireless stations.
However, the quartet saw changes too, as John Bridge had been appointed Hallé leader replacing Catterall but had to give up his position in the Catterall Quartet, realizing the enormity of the task ahead of him. At the end of September, the Birmingham concert season opened with the Catterall Quartet playing works by Tchaikovsky, Debussy and Mozart. Leonard Hirsch, another Brodsky pupil, played second violin in place of John Bridge.
The following month it was clear that the quartet was going to carry the regular winter concerts of chamber music in Manchester. There was a change in the musical climate of the city and audiences were no longer supporting numerous chamber concerts as they had in previous years. The Hamilton Harty Chamber Concerts were abandoned, the Edward Isaacs International Chamber Concerts were shortened to a fortnight; Edith Robinson Quartet concerts and those given by smaller ensembles were few and far between. To end the year, the Catterall Quartet played to full houses in Dublin and Manchester offering new repertoire in the form of Bax’s Quartet in G and Idyll, a new work by Newcastle Conservatoire professor, Alfred Wall.
Catterall was in a position to pick and choose his solo engagements which he embraced wholeheartedly but in 1926 he was also making a name for himself as a teacher at the College. During the summer months the Examination Concerts showed his pupils to be very successful. Mary Ashmell’s performance of Bach’s Concerto in A minor was, “admirably sustained in expression and pure in execution”, according to Langford, (Guardian 14 July 1926) and future Hallé violinist, Philip Whiteway, was praised for his good work in chamber music.
At about this time, Ben Horsfall, later of Hallé and BBC Northern Orchestras, was auditioned and accepted as a pupil of the college. He later wrote, “I was allocated to Arthur Catterall for lessons and I soon discovered that he was an excellent teacher – firm, patient and intensely serious. His teaching room was in a back attic in a derelict house in Oxford Road, Manchester. The room itself overlooked the back of some very dingy houses trying to survive by taking in theatricals as lodgers. The furniture in Catterall’s room was sparse to say the least, it consisted of a piano, which was never played, a music stand for the victim and a chair for the master”. Clearly, the working conditions at the college, and in Manchester concert halls, were far below the standard expected today.
|The British Trio, 1920’s – (l to r) Twelvetrees, Catterall, Wills
"With Catterall’s Manchester years drawing to a close he revived his interest in playing trios with the formation of The British Trio, with Hallé cellist, Clyde Twelvetrees and pianist, John Wills, making broadcasts from the Manchester wireless station. Further changes took place in personnel of the Catterall Quartet and although regular performances continued, the quartet never really reached the dizzy height of 1925, achieved by that winning combination of players, Catterall, Bridge, Park and Hock.
In 1929, Catterall’s friend and accompanist, R. J. Forbes became principal of the RMCM. At the same time, Catterall was appointed senior professor of violin. Forbes conducted an orchestral concert at the Free Trade Hall on 15 March in aid of a fund to establish a scholarship to the memory of Brodsky who had died earlier in the year. An orchestra of one hundred past and present students of the college, including thirty five members of the Hallé, took part and Catterall was soloist in Tchaikovsky’s concerto. Neville Cardus was moved to write, “We have never before heard him bring to his violin a touch of warmer sensibility; Mr Catterall has never been a greater violinist than he is at the present time”. (Guardian 16 March 1929)
However, in October, Catterall’s appointment as Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, and leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra was announced. Farewell appearances followed and by the end of the month he had played as soloist in the 600th Tuesday Midday Concert and given the first Manchester performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto at a Hallé Concert (31 Oct) conducted by Harty. According to Nevelle Cardus, “he played with incredible mastery”.
Arthur Catterall moved on to London to continue his distinguished career but Manchester was soon aware of his absence. In a letter to the Manchester Guardian dated 10 January 1930, R. J. Forbes complained that, “In Manchester even the Catterall Quartet Concerts have been discontinued this year for lack of sufficient number of enlightened and discriminating music lovers”. It seemed that Manchester’s appetite for chamber music had all but disappeared, but the appointment of Henry Holst (b.1899), pupil of Willy Hess, as Professor of Violin at the RMCM in 1931, brought new hope to the critics who applauded the appointment. The Guardian noted that, “One thing is already certain to happen as a consequence of the Royal Manchester College of Music’s appointment. Chamber music in the city – almost dead at the moment – will be quickened into new life.” It didn’t happen. Changing social attitudes, rather than the presence or absence of a single musician, was to bring about the demise of chamber music concerts in Manchester and elsewhere.
It seems fitting that when Arthur Catterall died on 28 November 1943, aged 59, he was returned to the city for burial at Southern Cemetery. Among the mourners at his graveside were two of the longest standing members of the Catterall Quartet who had shared in his triumphs – John Bridge and Frank Park.
© Stuart Scott, March 2016
The author is most grateful to Susan Kevill and family for permission to use photographs and information from their private archive. Also to the Royal College of Music, London for the Wigmore Hall programme of 25 February 1918 (GB-LrcmCPH/GB-Lwh). Last, but not least, my thanks go to Frank Rutherford, without whose extensive and thorough research the writing of this article would have been a much more difficult task.