History of Dundee Chamber Music

Dundee Chamber Music Club was launched at a public meeting in April 1929 and the first concert was held on 3rd October 1929. The artists, an early Budapest String Quartet, were a quartet of top-class Hungarian players: clearly the new Club started as it meant to go on. The audience of 256 exceeded all expectations.

Kathleen Ferrier performed for Dundee Chamber Music in 1950Then, as now, string quartets with or without an extra soloist were the mainstay of our concerts, and audiences could reach 400. Many leading quartets – the London, the Stratton, the Griller Quartet, all visited Dundee. One of the three concerts given by the Griller Quartet included Leon Goossens as soloist in Mozart’s Oboe Quartet and Bax’s Oboe Quintet, which had been written for him. The Sammons-Tertis Piano Quartet visited in 1932. The leader was Albert Sammons to whom Delius dedicated his Violin Concerto, the violist was the legendary Lionel Tertis and the cellist was Cedric Sharpe. The pianist was a young fellow called Gerald Moore who was to return in 1950 as accompanist to Kathleen Ferrier.

The Amadeus String Quartet performed for Dundee Chamber Music in the 50sLike many other societies the Club ceased to function during the war but came to life again in October 1945 with a series of four concerts. Obstacles were legion: audience figures were down because fuel, including petrol was rationed, so out-of-town members could no longer attend; and the concerts were performed in icy conditions (this last was alleviated by the Dundee Fuel Overseer granting the Club a certificate for one-and-a-half tons of coal for four concerts); finances were desperate: reserves were down to £1 at one point when the Club was rescued by a member donating £100 to keep going.

The horn-playing legend, Dennis Brain visited Dundee in 1956 to play for Dundee Chamber MusicAnd keep going they did, with some splendid music throughout the 1940’s and 50’s despite the problems. Besides Kathleen Ferrier and Gerald Moore, performers included the Amadeus String Quartet (January 1950, March 1952 and November 1958, when they played an all-Beethoven programme of op. 18.2, op. 132 and op. 59.3), the horn player Dennis Brain who came in 1956, and, for the biggest audience, Julian Bream the guitarist.

Emma Johnson has performed twice for Dundee Chamber Music in 1996 and 2001These high standards continue to be maintained - Dundee Chamber Music knows that survival depends on promoting concerts of the highest quality. In the last twenty years ensembles have included the Skampa (February 1994, March 1997 and February 1999), St Petersburg (January 2005, October 2007 and September 2013) and Brodsky Quartets (October 2012), clarinettists Emma Johnson (October 1996 and November 2001) Michael Collins (November 2010 and January 2014), singers Christopher Maltman (March 1999) and Lisa Milne (November 2000), Paul Lewis performed for Dundee Chamber Music in 2011and pianists Paul Lewis (January 2011), Steven Osborne (September 2011) and Llyr Williams (December 2005).

Concerts planned for the immediate future also feature top class musicians. When we say ‘we bring fine music played by top professionals to Dundee’ we mean it!

You can download a list of all works that have been performed together with the artistes at Dundee Chamber Music concerts since 1990.