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Hallé Orchestra


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The Hallé is a symphony orchestra based in Manchester, England. It is the UK’s oldest extant symphony orchestra (and the fourth oldest in the world), supports a choir and a youth orchestra, and releases its recordings on its own record label, though it has occasionally released recordings on Angel Records and EMI. Since 1996 the orchestra has been resident at the Bridgewater Hall.


In May 1857, the pianist and conductor Charles Hallé set up an orchestra to perform at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition, and the orchestra performed through October 1857. Hallé then decided to continue work with this orchestra as a formal organisation, and the orchestra gave its first concert under those auspices on 30 January 1858. The orchestra’s home for the first part of its history was the Free Trade Hall. The orchestra was in financial trouble in 1861, when it performed only two concerts.

Hans Richter served as music director from 1899 to 1911. During his tenure, the orchestra gave the first performance of the Symphony No. 1 of Sir Edward Elgar.

In 1943, the orchestra was again in crisis, having diminished in size to 30 players. Over the next 27 years, from 1943 to 1970, the orchestra’s next music director, Sir John Barbirolli, restored the Hallé to national prominence.

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