Reid Concerts database project

The Reid Concerts website is an online database charting the evolution of the Reid Concerts at the University of Edinburgh from 1841, through the contents of the concert programmes. The image of General Reid, used as the logo for the project, is taken from the front cover of the Reid orchestral programmes presented in the 1920s and 1930s.  Unless otherwise stated, and with a few gaps, the original printed programmes are available for consultation at the University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections (CRC), Heritage Collections, Main Library, 30 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LJ   Tel: 0131 650 8379   Email:  Website: Information Services Heritage Collections  Programmes from the Edinburgh Orchestral Festival Concerts in the 1870s and 1880s are available for consultation at the Edinburgh Central Library Music Department [ref. Box 18a].

The Reid Concerts Database has been designed and developed by myself, Fiona M Donaldson, while a postgraduate research student at the Reid School of Music, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh from 2013 to 2018, in association with Gavin Maxwell of the University of Edinburgh, College of Humanities and Social Sciences Web Development team.  This project created to support my research has become a searchable online database outlining the contents of a selection of the available Reid Concerts programmes from the inaugural concert in 1841.  Data entry for concerts from 1895 to 1970, for which programmes are available, was made possible with help from an Innovation Initiative Grant from the University of Edinburgh Development Trust and a grant from the Department of Music.

Changes and updates are being made to the website regularly.  However, at an unknown point in 2024 this database will be archived and updates or additions will no longer be possible. Work is underway to make the database as complete as possible before it is archived. 

The focus in the first months of the project, starting in July 2013, was on entering data available for the nineteenth-century concerts and, in early 2014 focus shifted to entering details of concerts after 1900. The programme material listed is, as far as possible, as it appears in the original printed programmes or newspaper articles which accounts for some of the inconsistencies in format. There are gaps in the data: many entries lack the year, date, time or venue as, with ephemera of this type, programmes are available at the event and if you are there, you know where you are and what day and time it is—you don’t need it printed on the programme.  Programmes from the Edinburgh Orchestral Festival Concerts in the 1870s and 1880s were entered in late 2016 and, in early 2017, the remaining available programmes from Professor Tovey's Sunday concerts were entered. In July 2017 additional search facilities were added to allow searches for first performances, most often performed works, most often performed composers and composers by nationality. These searches will be limited after the database is archived in 2024. 

In 2017-2018 I completed my Phd thesis: 'Reid Concerts at The University of Edinburgh: the first 100 years, 1841–1941' and there is a link to the online copy of the text on the home page of this database.  In late 2018 and early 2019 the programmes for concerts from 2009 to 2018 were entered and since 2020 the focus has been on any remaining programmes, up to 2024, continuing to fill in gaps in the data, identifying errors and omissions and adding concerts by Edinburgh University Musical Society, working from brochures and available programmes in the archives of the University of Edinburgh Heritage Collections.  Most of the available concert programmes up to 2024 have now been entered, in addition to a selection of organ recital programmes from the early 1950s to 2020.  Many organ recitals did not have printed programmes and for these information has been taken from the brochure or newspaper advertisements and reviews. Summer concerts in the series 'Bach at Cecilia's Hall' from 1970 to 1990 with scanned programmes and Sypert Concerts from 2012 are now entered.  In 2024 University Concert brochures have been scanned and posted on the site.  These brochures additionally include outline details of concerts and performances by Edinburgh University student orchestras, choirs, ensembles and bands, Edinburgh Univeristy Opera and Chamber Music Club.  Available Annual Reid Concert programmes from the nineteenth century and early twentieth century have also been scanned and can be found on the individual concert pages.

Background information has been gleaned from a number of online and printed sources including, Grove online, the Library of Congress Authorities, The Musical Times and other music journals (via JSTOR), The Scotsman historical archive,, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Wikipedia; David Baptie's Musical Scotland Past and Present  James Brown's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians the Concert Programmes project, the Petrucci Music Library and concert programme biographies. The accuracy of the information is only as good as the source material from which it has been gleaned and details provided by links to other websites cannot be guaranteed. Much of the supplementary source reference material that has been used, across the database, is from the papers and collections of documents relating to the Reid professors housed in the Special Collections at the University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections, Heritage Collections. 

I apologise for any errors, mistakes or typographical inaccuracies. 
Do please let me know if you find anything untoward and I will correct it immediately.
Updates will not be possible after the database is archived in 2024.

All comments and feedback most welcome.

Thank you.  
May 2024

Gavin Maxwell & Euan Cameron, Web Development Team, University of Edinburgh, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Grant Buttars, Deputy Archivist, and team, University of Edinburgh, Centre for Research Collections
Viki Galt, Disability Information Officer, University of Edinburgh, Informaton Services Department
Dr Noel O'Regan & Dr Christopher Field, Research supervisors, University of Edinburgh, Reid School of Music 

Dr Lance Whitehead, Research assistant, Reid Concerts Project, University of Edinburgh, Reid School of Music
Professor Peter Nelson, University of Edinburgh, Reid School of Music

Family, friends and colleagues who have offered guidance, feedback and support for this project

A 2014 Innovation Initiative Grant from the University of Edinburgh Development Trust and additional funding from the University of Edinburgh Department of Music in November 2014 made it possible to engage a research assistant, Dr Lance Whitehead, from 24 February to 21 May 2014, and from 17 November 2014 to 31 March 2015 to help with entering concert programme data up to 1970.