Transcript of Events

The 1744/45 concert programmes re-surfaced by chance. A uniquely detailed transcript, entitled Manchester Concerts in 1744, was found in a centenary review for the Chetham Society.Written by John Harland, the transcript has every appearance of being scholarly and accurate. The report concerns an account book dated November 1st 1744, described by Harland as ‘a small quarto, like what was formerly called a “cyphering book’”. It first lists the stewards (4) and subscribers (varying between165 and 131 over the quarterly collections), and then provides listings of all of the pieces performed in sixteen concerts. Although some descriptions are incomplete, and other entries only indicate ‘a song’ or ‘flute solo’, the structure of the programmes is clear and the majority of music identifiable.

 Although it soon became clear that the original record book was lost, the reliability and accuracy of the transcript was quickly established. John Harland (1806–1868) was a highly esteemed and prolific journalist and reporter. Once described as the ‘Father of Provincial Reporting’,Harland wrote for the Manchester Guardianfor thirty years, and his scholarly assiduousness and attention to the ‘minutest details’ were revered.His transcript and journalistic review provide what is until now the only investigation relating solely to the 1744/45 concert series, the first known concert activity in Manchester. Harland’s reflections also provide an interesting perspective. One delightful comment, typical of its time, will be re-addressed in our reconstruction concerts:

 ‘If we take away the illustrious Germans, Handel and Hasse, and the Italian Corelli, what is now known of the rest? Of Geminiani we have a sort of dim remembrance, partly from finding him named in old novels and tales of the period; but who were Tessarini, Vivaldi, Luzinga, or Alberti?’ 

 Harland’s excitement at having been ‘favoured with’ seeing this ‘curious MS book’ with its accounts of the Manchester Subscription Concerts, whets our curiosity as to whether he was able to acquire the book for his own library. An avid collector, Harland left behind an immense collection of books for which there are two nineteenth-century, handwritten catalogues held in the archives of Manchester Central Library. These contain two intriguing entries: ‘Records, Public… 2. Quarto & Octavo’ as well as the hope-inducing description ‘Box in Loft’, which will be followed up when time permits.

 The account of the 1744/45 series, with detailed listing of programmes, contrasts with later eighteenth-century records of concerts. These generally appeared in newspaper advertisements published before the event, as were some surviving concert programmes, which were later amended (several examples remain intact with the stickers showing any relevant ‘correction’). Rather than advertising the programmes before the event, our 1744/45 records seem to describe exactly what had just taken place.

 Also listed are various financial disbursements and arrangements, partly revealing the identities of some of the performers, and already showing the tradition of ‘importing’ players from London, a tradition that continues today.

 The programmes are transcribed in a linear text format, each as a separate paragraph. They are complete for two ‘quarters’, comprising six concerts each, and for the third quarter there are four programmes. 

1744. November 2nd. (John Harland,  Remains Historical & Literary . Chethams Society lxxii /1867), p. 73).

1744. November 2nd. (John Harland, Remains Historical & Literary. Chethams Society lxxii /1867), p. 73).

 ‘Musick in Manchester 1744/45.

16 Programmes (November 2nd, 1744 – August 20th, 1745).


1744. November 2nd. — Overture to Otho; song; German flute* 

concerto; song; first of Tessarini, third sonata; first set of Corelli. 

2nd Act.  Second concerto of Corelli;  lesson upon the harpsi-

chord; song; second sonata; second set, Corelli; solo, German flute; third of Tessarini

[* referring to the transverse flute as opposed to the recorder.]               


November 13th . — Overture to Samson; song; fifth of Corelli; 

duet, violins.   2nd Act.  Overture to Alcina: solo, German flute:

harpsichord lesson; song;   3rd Act.  Twelfth of Tessarini; solo, 

violin; song; eighth of Corelli; overture to Saul.


November 27th . —  Overture to Rodalinda; solo, German flute;

seventh of Corelli; Luzinga, violin; fourth of Tessarini;  harpsi-

chord lesson, ninth of  Gastrucci.   2nd Act.  Sixth of Tessarini;

German flute concerto; fifth of Vivaldi; solo, German flute; fifth

sonata of Corelli; ninth concerto of Corelli.


December 11th.— Overture of Acis and Galatea; a song; first 

concerto of Geminiani; Lee’s sonata; a song; sixth of Corelli;

solo on the violin.   2nd Act.  Overture to Radamistus; a song;

fifth of Geminiani’s; solo on the violin; German flute concerto; Handel’s water music. 


1744-5. January 8th.— Overture to Atalanta; a song; second 

concerto of Geminiani; solo on the violin; solo on German flute;

a song; first concerto of Corelli.   2nd Act.  Overture to Ariadante

[sic in MS., Ariadne?]; harpsichord lesson; song; solo on the 

violin; eighth concerto of Humphreys.


January 22nd.— Overture to Cato; harpsichord concerto; a 

song; solo on the violin; duet, violins; German flute solo; second 

of Gastrucci.   2nd Act.  Overture to Ariadne;  a song; Arne’s 

concerto;  cantata;  second concerto of Corelli. 


February 5th.— Overture to Lothario; fourth concerto of Tes-

sarini; song; German flute solo; violin solo; third concerto of 

Geminiani.   2nd Act.  Overture to Mutius Scaevola; song; violin  solo; third concerto, Corelli; song; twelfth concerto of Hum-



February 19th.— Overture to Scipio; cantata, “On the coast 

of Argos;” German flute solo; harpsichord lesson; fourth con-

certo of Geminiani.   2nd Act.   Overture to Tamerlane; song;

third concerto of Tessarini; violin solo; song; fourth concerto of

Corelli; fourth concerto of Hasse.

[no concerts in March]


1745 April 16th.— Overture to Flavius; fifth concerto of Gemi-

niani; song; third organ concerto of Handel; third sonata of 

Corelli.   2nd Act.  Overture to Richard the First; “Thyrsis,” a 

cantata; violin solo; German flute solo; fifth concerto of 



April 30th.— Overture to Esther; sixth concerto of Geminiani;

cantata; fourth organ concerto of Handel; second concerto of 

Tessarini.   2nd Act.  Overture to Atalanta; song; German flute 

concerto; solo on the violin; sixth concerto of Corelli.


May 14th.— Overture to Alexander; German flute concerto;

song; first organ concerto of Felton; first sonata of Humphreys.

2nd Act.  First overture to Admetus; song; seventh concerto of 

Corelli; violin solo; Handel’s water music.


May 28th.— Overture to Parthenope; German flute concerto;

fifth organ concerto, Handel; eighth concerto of Corelli; 2nd 

Act.  Overture to Julius Caesar; song; second concerto of Tessa-

rini; solo of ye Hoboy (oboe or Hautbois); concerto of Humphreys.


June 25th.— Overture to Rodalinda; fourth of Geminiani

(opera fifth); duet-song; sixth organ concerto, Handel; hoboy 

solo; MS. concerto, Humphreys.   2nd  Act.  Overture to Otho;

song; violin solo; German flute concerto; tenth of Corelli.


July 9th.—. Overture to Tamerlane; song; twelfth of Corelli;

duet, violins, water music.   2nd Act.  Overture  to The Amorous 

Goddess; second of Corelli; song; violin solo; Hasse’s grand 



July 23rd.— First Overture to Admetus; fifth of Geminiani;

German flute solo; MS. concerto of Felton; tenth of Corelli.

2nd Act.  Fifth grand concerto, Handel; German flute concerto;

harpsichord lesson; violin solo; twelfth concerto of Humphreys.

August 6th. —  [No entry of “musick” for this concert.]


August 20th.— 1st Act.  Overture to Esther; eleventh concerto 

of Corelli; song; fifth organ concerto, Handel; first concerto of 

Alberti.   2nd Act.  Overture to ye sacred oratorio; song;  hoboy 

concerto; German flute solo; violin solo; overture to Deidamia.


Transcript, John Harland 1844