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Photocopy of Thomas Busby's Speech

From the Archive: Thomas Busby's Speech

Images and transcript of the never-before-seen speech from our archive, written by founding member, Thomas Busby.


2-minute read

On 9 June 1904 the LSO performed it’s very first concert. To celebrate this 120 years anniversary we are pulling out a never-before-seen speech from our archive, written by founding member, Thomas Busby.

The story goes that a plan was hatched on a train to Manchester by four ringleaders: Adolf Borsdorf, Henri van der Meerschen, Thomas Busby and John Solomon – all brass players. They would break off from the Queen’s Hall Orchestra to form an orchestra of their own which would be run as a co-operative, a ‘Musical Republic’, where the players would choose the conductors and not the other way around.

A meeting was convened where Busby laid out their ambitious plan and, consequently, 45 members of the Queen’s Hall Orchestra resigned to join the new London Symphony Orchestra. The images below are from the speech he gave to convince the musicians.

View a transcription of the speech


My colleagues and myself (Thomas Busby, horn; John Solomon, trumpet; Henri van der Meerschen, horn and Adolf Borsdorf, horn) have convened this meeting for the purpose of considering and formulating proceedings with regards to the future of this proposed organisation, the suggested title of which is The ‘London Symphony Orchestra.’

You are, I am sure, all well aware of the impossible contracts recently issued from Q.H. (Queen’s Hall), I mention this because there are many present this evening who have long severed their connection with Q.H.

Well, the gentlemen on the platform, immediately commenced to form the present organisation, and I will do my best to explain our project.

In the first place, we have interviewed Mr William Boosey with regards to taking Q.H. for a season of Promenade Concerts from August 1905.

Although we did not get a refusal, Mr Boosey said that it was such a long way off, that he could not give us a direct answer, but he assured us that his sympathy was not with the present syndicate, which I think gentlemen was very helpful for our cause.

His suggestion was that we should gone (sic) on with our organisation and he would await developments.

The most important suggestion that we have to lay before you this evening is, that a preliminary concert should be given early next month, of course it will be held in the afternoon.

And I am delighted to say that through the good office of our old friend Mr Borsdorf, Dr Richter has kindly consented to conduct on the occasion. I think gentlemen you will agree with me when I say that this will be a splendid send off for us and an opportunity which we must not fail to miss. Dr Richter has even gone as far as to choose the Programme, the items of which are:

Overture Meistersinger (Richard Wagner)

Variations Elgar

Overture Carnival Romain (Hector Berlioz)

C Minor Symphony Beethoven (Symphony No 5)

Raphsodie (sic) Liszt

Of course, you are, I am sure well aware that this concert cannot take place unless we finance it so I propose that each Member shall give £1-1-0 towards paying the expenses, and whatever the takings may be it shall remain for the purpose of forming a fund with regards to future events.

Now in reference to the Promenade Concerts, should we be as fortunate to get the Hall, I suggest that we should form ourselves into a Limited Liability Company with a capital of £1000 and have a proper registered office, I feel sure gentlemen there can be but little difficulty in Subscribing this amount, and I am positively (sic) that if we give the Promenade Concerts we shall get a very handsome return for our money.

We have already been promised several Concerts from sympathetic friends and in order to keep ourselves well before the Pallie, I propose two Sym Concerts before Xmas and two after. We shall of course choose our own conductor.

Mr Payne has Conductor (sic) Proms

Unanimity of players, irrespective of desks in the Orchestra.

5 additional Members on Committee.

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