First concert by the Reid Orchestra: 5 May 1917

The Reid Ochestra

A native orchestra – for the instruction and development of 
native talent – as a means for the practical study of music in 
the University of Edinburgh – for the establishment of 
regular concerts of the best music at popular prices in Edinburgh


The Reid Orchestra was established by Reid Professor Donald Francis Tovey in 1916.  Rehearsals began in October and the first season of four concerts was given on Saturday afternoons in May 1917 to much critical expectation and acclaim.   The inaugural concert on Saturday 5 May, 1917 was the occasion chosen for the Annual Reid Commemoration Concert that year instead of the usual February date.   The programme featured an overture and a symphony by Beethoven and opened with General Reid’s March “The garb of old Gaul.”  The programme was selected to fit the orchestral forces available and the concert was conducted by Tovey. 

Saturday May 5, 1917, 3.00 pm, The Music Hall, George Street, Edinburgh

1. March, "The Garb of Old Gaul" [sic] ... General Reid
2. Overture, "Coriolanus," op. 62 ... Beethoven
3. Three songs from the cycle "The wind among the reeds," op. 30, for tenor voice with orchestra ... Thomas F. Dunhill
  Mr Gervase Elwes
4. Variations for orchestra on a theme by Haydn, op. 56a ... Brahms
5. Sonata in F major, no. 1, for flute and figured bass ... General Reid
  Flute - Mr J. D. Miller
6. Songs: 
  1. "Where'er you walk" from Semele ... Handel
  2. "Linden Lea" ... Vaughan Williams
  3. Sonnet XVIII ... C.W. Aitken
  4. "Sigh no more, ladies" ... C.W. Aitken
7. Sinfonia Eroica, op. 55 ... Beethoven

A local orchestra for the establishment of regular concerts of the best music at popular prices in Edinburgh; for the instruction and development of native talent; and as a means for the practical study of music in the University of Edinburgh.  (Tovey, July 1919)

"All music-lovers who have studied on the Continent, deplore the absence in this country of good local orchestras, such as exist or existed in all the larger and many of the smaller towns of Central Europe.  It was to repair this deficiency, and at the same time to provide the University with an instrument whereby the study of orchestration could be made a real, living thing that, in 1916, Professor Tovey, with the aid of the Amalgamated Musicians' Union, formed this orchestra of Scottish players."

"The noteworthy features of the Reid Orchestra are, in brief, as follows:-
"1. It is composed of local musicians.
"2. It is the only symphony orchestra in the country that has a definite educational function.
"3. It already possesses a large repertoire, and is steadily growing in numbers, experience and versatility.
"4. Its conductor - Professor Tovey - and its committee enjoy, in a remarkable degree, the sympathy and confidence of the local orchestral players, whose artistic and financial status it enhances in a manner otherwise unattainable.
"5. It does not perform for profit.  Its conductor is unpaid, and the net takings of the concerts will be devoted to the extension of the orchestra and the enhancement of the well-being of its members.
"6. Its concert programmes are artistically ideal, and are equalled in interest and catholicity of selection only by some of the leading orchestras of England and the Continent.
"7. The charges for admission are so moderate as to place the enjoyment of the concerts within the reach of all."  ("The Student" - 26th January 1921)

The twenty-first anniversary of the Reid Orchestra was celebrated in October 1937 with a concert in the Usher Hall followed by a civic reception in the City Chambers. 

First four Reid Orchestra concerts:
Saturday 5 May 1917
Saturday 12 May 1917
Saturday 19 May 1917
Saturday 26 May 1917