100th anniversary of the "New Reid Concerts" 1916

Professor Donald Francis Tovey was, in 1914, appointed Reid Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh and for two years he continued the tradition of Historical Concerts established by his precedessor, Frederick Niecks, presenting four concerts in the winters of 1914-15 and 1915-16.   Tovey was keen to expand the scope of the University concerts and in 1916 the Senatus and the University Court, authorised Professor Tovey to inaugurate a new series of three concerts to take place in the Freemasons’ Hall, George Street, Edinburgh on Saturday afternoons, February 12th, 26th, and March 11th  1916.  The first concert in the series, Saturday, February 12th 1916 was observed as the annual concert in memory of General Reid and featured one of General Reid’s compositions for flute.   

A leaflet was circulated giving details of the new concerts:


“For a quarter of a century the Historical Concerts have fostered and represented the musical culture of Edinburgh University, with all the advantages which a University enjoys, both in its own freedom from the diplomacy of popular enterprise and in the readiness of the public to grant that the aims of a University are education and research. An opinion has for some time been gaining ground to the effect that the time is ripe for concerts on the Reid foundation to become more accessible to the public at large:

The scope of these concerts, now and in future years, will be different from that of the Historical Concerts, which will continue in their endeavour to maintain the standard and character impressed upon them from the outset by Professor Niecks. And it will be unanimously admitted that with that standard and character the surroundings and the acoustics of the Music Class-Room are inseparably associated.  The New Reid Concerts will therefore in no way supersede the Historical concerts; nor, on the other hand, will they attempt to duplicate other important functions in the musical culture of Edinburgh. Their programmes will contain, besides many classics, various novelties which, for one reason or another, cannot be fitted into “historical concerts,” and which at the same time have not been selected on the ground that they have already become famous.

As “Historical Concerts” may fairly be expected to include ancient works that are not well known as classics, so the New Concerts will exercise the Iiberty of a University in frequently selecting new works in a spirit rather of experiment and research than of fashion. At the same time, to throw open a series of concerts in a larger hall on the same footing as that of the Historical Concerts with their great majority of free tickets, would be, as the experience more than one University town has shown, to inflict a serious blow to the musical life of Edinburgh, and in the long run weaken the new concerts themselves.  

Whatever, then, the capacity of the Reid Bequest to subsidise a new and more public series of concerts, it is highly desirable that such concerts should support themselves as other public concerts must: nor is it proposed to give them the temporary advantage of being devoted from the outset to any patriotic or charitable purpose.   All that will be tested by them is the interest taken by the public of Edinburgh in the new musical enterprise.   If and when that interest proves sufficient to put the new concerts on a sound financial basis, apart from the resources of the Reid Bequest, Professor Tovey will then consult the University as to the best disposal of the proceeds during the War, and will in due course announce the decision reached thereon, should the proceeds be worth mentioning.”

The programmes of the three "New Reid Concerts":  

The "New Reid Concerts" were discontinued in 1917 and replaced by the Reid Orchestral Concerts.