Admittedly, it wasn’t a good review, but one of the earliest descriptions of the wild pre-blues African-American-style music heard in London during 1890 came from no less a source than the celebrated Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw.
The photograph below was taken around the time Shaw wrote his damning account of being forced to listen to the music of the Moore & Burgess Minstrels, while watching the eminent violin player, Lady Hallé. George Bernard was in the main hall of the St. James’ Hall on Piccadilly, while the American minstrels were in a smaller hall, where they were resident for an amazing 40 years. Shaw complained he was:
“Inhumanly tormented by a quadrille band which the proprietors of St James’s Hall (who really ought to be examined by two doctors) had stationed within earshot of the concert-hall. The heavy tum-tum of the basses throbbed obscurely against the rhythms of Spohr and Berlioz all the evening, like a toothache through a troubled dream; and occasionally, during a pianissimo, or in one of Lady Hallé’s eloquent pauses, the cornet would burst into vulgar melody in a remote key, and set us all flinching, squirming, shuddering, and grimacing hideously.”
|George Bernard Shaw around the time his wrote his damning review.|