Music hall

Music hall

Overview
Music Hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment
Entertainment
Entertainment consists of any activity which provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time. Entertainment is generally passive, such as watching opera or a movie. Active forms of amusement, such as sports, are more often considered to be recreation...

 which was popular between 1850 and 1960. The term can refer to:
  1. A particular form of variety
    Variety show
    A variety show, also known as variety arts or variety entertainment, is an entertainment made up of a variety of acts, especially musical performances and sketch comedy, and normally introduced by a compère or host. Other types of acts include magic, animal and circus acts, acrobatics, juggling...

     entertainment involving a mixture of popular song, comedy and speciality acts. British music hall was similar to American vaudeville
    Vaudeville
    Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill...

    , featuring rousing songs and comic acts, while in the United Kingdom the term vaudeville referred to more working-class types of entertainment that would have been termed burlesque
    American burlesque
    American Burlesque is a genre of variety show. Derived from elements of Victorian burlesque, music hall and minstrel shows, burlesque shows in America became popular in the 1860s and evolved to feature ribald comedy and female striptease...

    in America.
  2. The theatre or other venue in which such entertainment takes place;
  3. The type of popular music normally associated with such performances.



Music hall in London had its origins in entertainment provided in the new style saloon bars of public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

s during the 1830s.
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Encyclopedia
Music Hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment
Entertainment
Entertainment consists of any activity which provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time. Entertainment is generally passive, such as watching opera or a movie. Active forms of amusement, such as sports, are more often considered to be recreation...

 which was popular between 1850 and 1960. The term can refer to:
  1. A particular form of variety
    Variety show
    A variety show, also known as variety arts or variety entertainment, is an entertainment made up of a variety of acts, especially musical performances and sketch comedy, and normally introduced by a compère or host. Other types of acts include magic, animal and circus acts, acrobatics, juggling...

     entertainment involving a mixture of popular song, comedy and speciality acts. British music hall was similar to American vaudeville
    Vaudeville
    Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill...

    , featuring rousing songs and comic acts, while in the United Kingdom the term vaudeville referred to more working-class types of entertainment that would have been termed burlesque
    American burlesque
    American Burlesque is a genre of variety show. Derived from elements of Victorian burlesque, music hall and minstrel shows, burlesque shows in America became popular in the 1860s and evolved to feature ribald comedy and female striptease...

    in America.
  2. The theatre or other venue in which such entertainment takes place;
  3. The type of popular music normally associated with such performances.

Origins and development



Music hall in London had its origins in entertainment provided in the new style saloon bars of public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

s during the 1830s. These venues replaced earlier semi-rural amusements provided by fairs and suburban pleasure gardens
Pleasure gardens
A pleasure garden is usually a garden that is open to the public for recreation. They differ from other public gardens in that they serve as venues for entertainment, variously featuring concert halls or bandstands, rides, zoos, and menageries.-History:...

 such as Vauxhall Gardens
Vauxhall Gardens
Vauxhall Gardens was a pleasure garden, one of the leading venues for public entertainment in London, England from the mid 17th century to the mid 19th century. Originally known as New Spring Gardens, the site was believed to have opened before the Restoration of 1660 with the first mention being...

 and the Cremorne Gardens
Cremorne Gardens, London
Cremorne Gardens were popular pleasure gardens by the side of the River Thames in Chelsea, London. They lay between Chelsea Harbour and the end of the King's Road and flourished between 1845 to 1877; today only a vestige survives, on the river at the southern end of Cheyne Walk.-History:Originally...

. These latter became subject to urban development and became fewer and less popular.

The saloon was a room where for an admission fee or a greater price at the bar, singing, dancing, drama or comedy was performed. The most famous London saloon of the early days was the Grecian Saloon, established in 1825, at The Eagle (a former tea-garden), 2 Shepherdess Walk, off the City Road
City Road
City Road or The City Road is a road that runs through inner north and central London. The northwestern extremity of the road is at the Angel, Islington where it forms a continuation of Pentonville Road. Pentonville Road itself is the modern name for London's first bypass, the New Road from...

 in north London. According to John Hollingshead
John Hollingshead
John Hollingshead was an English theatrical impresario, journalist and writer during the latter half of the 19th century. He is best remembered as the first manager of the Gaiety Theatre, London...

, proprietor of the Gaiety Theatre, London
Gaiety Theatre, London
The Gaiety Theatre, London was a West End theatre in London, located on Aldwych at the eastern end of the Strand. The theatre was established as the Strand Musick Hall , in 1864 on the former site of the Lyceum Theatre. It was rebuilt several times, but closed from the beginning of World War II...

 (originally the Strand Music Hall), this establishment was "the father and mother, the dry and wet nurse of the Music Hall". Later known as the Grecian Theatre, it was here that Marie Lloyd
Marie Lloyd
Matilda Alice Victoria Wood was an English music hall singer, best known as Marie Lloyd. Her ability to add lewdness to the most innocent of lyrics led to frequent clashes with the guardians of morality...

 made her début at the age of 14 in 1884. It is still famous because of an English nursery rhyme, with the somewhat mysterious lyrics:
Up and down the City Road
In and out The Eagle
That's the way the money goes
Pop goes the weasel
Pop Goes the Weasel
"Pop! Goes the Weasel" is an English language nursery rhyme and singing game. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 5249.-Lyrics:There are many different versions of the lyrics to the song...

.


Another famous "song and supper" room of this period was Evans Music-and-Supper Rooms
Evans Music-and-Supper Rooms
Evans Music-and-Supper Rooms, 43 King Street, Covent Garden, was a famous venue for music and singing in early nineteenth century London, providing the type of entertainment which later evolved into music hall....

, 43 King Street, Covent Garden
Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a district in London on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St. Martin's Lane and Drury Lane. It is associated with the former fruit and vegetable market in the central square, now a popular shopping and tourist site, and the Royal Opera House, which is also known as...

, established in the 1840s by W.H. Evans. This venue was also known as 'Evans Late Joys' - Joy being the name of the previous owner. Other song and supper rooms included the Coal Hole in The Strand
Strand, London
Strand is a street in the City of Westminster, London, England. The street is just over three-quarters of a mile long. It currently starts at Trafalgar Square and runs east to join Fleet Street at Temple Bar, which marks the boundary of the City of London at this point, though its historical length...

, the Cyder Cellars in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden and the Mogul Saloon in Drury Lane
Drury Lane
Drury Lane is a street on the eastern boundary of the Covent Garden area of London, running between Aldwych and High Holborn. The northern part is in the borough of Camden and the southern part in the City of Westminster....

.

The music hall as we know it developed from such establishments during the 1850s and were built in and on the grounds of public houses. Such establishments were distinguished from theatres by the fact that in a music hall you would be seated at a table in the auditorium and could drink alcohol and smoke tobacco whilst watching the show. In a theatre, by contrast, the audience was seated in stalls and there was a separate bar-room. An exception to this rule was the Britannia Theatre
Britannia Theatre
The Britannia Theatre was located at 115/117 High Street, Hoxton, London. The theatre was badly damaged by a fire in 1900. The site was reused as a Gaumont cinema from 1913 to 1940, when this too was destroyed...

, Hoxton
Hoxton
Hoxton is an area in the London Borough of Hackney, immediately north of the financial district of the City of London. The area of Hoxton is bordered by Regent's Canal on the north side, Wharf Road and City Road on the west, Old Street on the south, and Kingsland Road on the east.Hoxton is also a...

 (1841) which somehow managed to evade this regulation and served drinks to its customers. Though a theatre rather than a music hall, this famous establishment later hosted music hall variety acts.

The first music halls


The establishment often regarded as the first true music hall was the Canterbury
Canterbury Music Hall
The Canterbury Music Hall was established in 1852 by Charles Morton on the site of a former skittle alley adjacent to the Canterbury Tavern at 143 Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth. It was the first purpose-built music hall in London, and Morton came to be dubbed the Father of the Halls as hundreds...

, 143 Westminster Bridge Road
Westminster Bridge Road
Westminster Bridge Road is a short, but busy, road in London, England. It runs on an east-west axis and passes through the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark....

, Lambeth
Lambeth
Lambeth is a district of south London, England, and part of the London Borough of Lambeth. It is situated southeast of Charing Cross.-Toponymy:...

 built by Charles Morton
Charles Morton (impresario)
Charles Morton was a Music hall and theatre manager. Born in Hackney, he built the first purpose built tavern Music hall, the Canterbury Music Hall, and became known as the Father of the Halls.-Canterbury Hall:...

, afterwards dubbed "the Father of the Halls", on the site of a skittle alley next to his pub, the Canterbury Tavern. It opened on 17 May 1852: described as "the most significant date in all the history of music hall". The hall looked like most contemporary pub concert rooms, but its replacement in 1854 was of then unprecedented size. It was further extended in 1859, later rebuilt as a variety theatre and finally destroyed by bombing in 1942.

Another early music hall was The Middlesex, Drury Lane
Drury Lane
Drury Lane is a street on the eastern boundary of the Covent Garden area of London, running between Aldwych and High Holborn. The northern part is in the borough of Camden and the southern part in the City of Westminster....

 (1851). Popularly known as the 'Old Mo', it was built on the site of the Mogul Saloon. Later converted into a theatre it was demolished in 1965.
The New London Theatre
New London Theatre
The New London Theatre is a West End theatre located on the corner of Drury Lane and Parker Street in Covent Garden, in the London Borough of Camden...

 stands on its site.

Several large music halls were built in the East End.
These included the London Music Hall, otherwise known as The Shoreditch Empire, 95-99 Shoreditch
Shoreditch
Shoreditch is an area of London within the London Borough of Hackney in England. It is a built-up part of the inner city immediately to the north of the City of London, located east-northeast of Charing Cross.-Etymology:...

 High Street, (1856–1935). This theatre was rebuilt during 1894 by Frank Matcham, the architect of the Hackney Empire. Another in this area was the Royal Cambridge Music Hall, 136 Commercial Street
Commercial Street (London)
Commercial Street is a road in Tower Hamlets, east London that runs north to south from Shoreditch High Street to Whitechapel High Street through the East End district of Spitalfields...

 (1864–1936). Designed by William Finch Hill (the designer of the Britannia theatre in nearby Hoxton), it was rebuilt after a fire in 1898.

The construction of Weston's Music Hall
Weston's Music Hall
Weston's Music Hall was a music hall and theatre that opened on 16 November 1857 at 242-245 High Holborn. In 1906, the theatre became known as the Holborn Empire.-Early years:...

, High Holborn
High Holborn
High Holborn is a road in Holborn in central London, England. It starts in the west near St Giles Circus, then goes east, past the Kingsway and Southampton Row, and continues east. The road becomes Holborn at the junction with Gray's Inn Road....

 (1857), built up on the site of the Six Cans and Punch Bowl Tavern by the licensed victualler of the premises, Henry Weston, signalled that the West End
West End of London
The West End of London is an area of central London, containing many of the city's major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings, and entertainment . Use of the term began in the early 19th century to describe fashionable areas to the west of Charing Cross...

 was fruitful territory for the music hall. During 1906 it was rebuilt as a variety theatre and renamed as the Holborn Empire. It was closed as a result of enemy action in the Blitz
The Blitz
The Blitz was the sustained strategic bombing of Britain by Nazi Germany between 7 September 1940 and 10 May 1941, during the Second World War. The city of London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 76 consecutive nights and many towns and cities across the country followed...

 on the night of 11–12 May 1941 and the building was pulled down in 1960. Significant West End music halls include:
  • The Oxford Music Hall
    Oxford Music Hall
    Oxford Music Hall was a music hall located in Westminster, London at the corner of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. It was established on the site of a former public house, the Boar and Castle, by Charles Morton, in 1861. The hall was converted into a legitimate theatre in 1917, but the...

    , 14/16 Oxford Street
    Oxford Street
    Oxford Street is a major thoroughfare in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, United Kingdom. It is Europe's busiest shopping street, as well as its most dense, and currently has approximately 300 shops. The street was formerly part of the London-Oxford road which began at Newgate,...

     (1861) - built on the site of an old coaching inn called the Boar and Castle by Charles Morton, the pioneer music hall developer of The Canterbury, who with this development brought music hall to the West End
    West End of London
    The West End of London is an area of central London, containing many of the city's major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings, and entertainment . Use of the term began in the early 19th century to describe fashionable areas to the west of Charing Cross...

    . Demolished in 1926.
  • The London Pavilion
    London Pavilion
    The London Pavilion is a building located on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Coventry Street on the north-east side of, and facing, Piccadilly Circus in London...

     (1861). Facade of 1885 rebuild still extant.
  • The Alhambra, Leicester Square
    Alhambra Theatre
    The Alhambra was a popular theatre and music hall located on the east side of Leicester Square, in the West End of London. It was built originally as The Royal Panopticon of Science and Arts opening on 18 March 1854. It was closed after two years and reopened as the Alhambra. The building was...

     (1860), in the former premises of the London Panopticon. This sophisticated venue was noted for its alluring corps de ballet and was a focal point for West End pleasure seekers. It was demolished in 1936.


Other large suburban music halls included:
  • The Old Bedford, 123-133 High Street, Camden Town
    Camden Town
    -Economy:In recent years, entertainment-related businesses and a Holiday Inn have moved into the area. A number of retail and food chain outlets have replaced independent shops driven out by high rents and redevelopment. Restaurants have thrived, with the variety of culinary traditions found in...

     (1861). Built on the site of the tea gardens of a pub called the Bedford Arms. The Bedford was a favourite haunt of the artists known as the Camden Town Group
    Camden Town Group
    The Camden Town Group was a group of English Post-Impressionist artists active 1911-1913. They gathered frequently at the studio of painter Walter Sickert in the Camden Town area of London.-History:...

     headed by Walter Sickert
    Walter Sickert
    Walter Richard Sickert , born in Munich, Germany, was a painter who was a member of the Camden Town Group in London. He was an important influence on distinctively British styles of avant-garde art in the 20th century....

     who featured interior scenes of music halls in his paintings, including one entitled 'Little Dot Hetherington at The Old Bedford'. The Old Bedford was demolished in 1969.
  • Collins', Islington Green
    Islington Green
    Islington Green is a small triangle of open land at the convergence of Upper Street and Essex Road in the London Borough of Islington...

     (1862). Opened by Sam Collins, in 1862, as the Lansdowne Music Hall, converting the pre-existing Lansdowne Arms public house, it was renamed as Collins' Music Hall in 1863. It was colloquially known as 'The Chapel on the Green'. Collins was a star of his own theatre, singing mostly Irish songs specially composed for him. It closed in 1956, after a fire, but the street front of the building still survives (see below).
  • Deacons in Clerkenwell
    Clerkenwell
    Clerkenwell is an area of central London in the London Borough of Islington. From 1900 to 1965 it was part of the Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury. The well after which it was named was rediscovered in 1924. The watchmaking and watch repairing trades were once of great importance...

     (1862).


A noted music hall entrepreneur of this time was Carlo Gatti
Carlo Gatti
Carlo Gatti was a Swiss entrepreneur in the Victorian era. He came to England in 1847, where he established restaurants and an ice importing business. He is credited with first making ice cream available to the general public. He moved into music halls. He returned to Switzerland in 1871, leaving...

 who built a music hall, known as Gatti's, at Hungerford Market
Hungerford Market
Hungerford Market was a market in London, near Charing Cross on the Strand, housed in two different buildings on the same site from around 1680 to 1862. The first market was held from about 1680 in a London house of the Hungerford family. This building became dilapidated, and was replaced by a...

 in 1857. He sold the music hall to South Eastern Railway
South Eastern Railway (UK)
The South Eastern Railway was a railway company in south-eastern England from 1836 until 1922. The company was formed to construct a route from London to Dover. Branch lines were later opened to Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Canterbury and other places in Kent...

 in 1862, and the site became Charing Cross railway station
Charing Cross railway station
Charing Cross railway station, also known as London Charing Cross, is a central London railway terminus in the City of Westminster, England. It is one of 18 stations managed by Network Rail, and trains serving it are operated by Southeastern...

. With the proceeds from selling his first music hall, Gatti acquired a restaurant in Westminster Bridge Road
Westminster Bridge Road
Westminster Bridge Road is a short, but busy, road in London, England. It runs on an east-west axis and passes through the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark....

, opposite The Canterbury music hall. He converted the restaurant into a second Gatti's music hall, known as "Gatti's-in-the-Road", in 1865. It later became a cinema. The building was badly damaged in the Second World War, and was demolished in 1950. In 1867, he acquired a public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

 in Villiers Street
Villiers Street
Villiers Street is a street in London connecting The Strand with The Embankment. It was built by Nicholas Bourbon in the 1670s on the site of York House, the property of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham whose name the street commemorates...

 named "The Arches", under the arches of the elevated railway line leading to Charing Cross station. He opened it as another music hall, known as "Gatti's-in-The-Arches
Charing Cross Music Hall
The Charing Cross Music Hall was a music hall established beneath the Arches of Charing Cross railway station in 1866 by brothers, Giovanni and Carlo Gatti to replace the former Hungerford Hall...

". After his death his family continued to operate the music hall, known for a period as the Hungerford or Gatti's Hungerford Palace of Varieties.
It became a cinema in 1910, and the Players' Theatre
Players' Theatre
The Players' Theatre was a theatre in London as well as a theatre club for music hall in the style of the BBC programme "The Good Old Days".-Origins:...

 in 1946.

By 1865 there were thirty-two music halls in London seating between 500 to 5000 people plus an unknown, but large, number of smaller venues.
In 1878 numbers peaked, with seventy-eight large music halls in the metropolis and 300 smaller venues. Thereafter numbers declined due to stricter licensing restrictions imposed by the Metropolitan Board of Works
Metropolitan Board of Works
The Metropolitan Board of Works was the principal instrument of London-wide government from 1855 until the establishment of the London County Council in 1889. Its principal responsibility was to provide infrastructure to cope with London's rapid growth, which it successfully accomplished. The MBW...

 and LCC
London County Council
London County Council was the principal local government body for the County of London, throughout its 1889–1965 existence, and the first London-wide general municipal authority to be directly elected. It covered the area today known as Inner London and was replaced by the Greater London Council...

, and because of commercial competition between popular large suburban halls and the smaller venues, which put the latter out of business.

Variety theatre


A new era of 'variety theatre' was developed by the rebuilding of the London Pavilion in 1885. Contemporary accounts noted:
One of the most famous of these new palaces of pleasure in the West End was the Empire, Leicester Square, built as a theatre in 1884 but acquiring a music hall licence in 1887. Like the nearby Alhambra this theatre appealed to the men of leisure by featuring alluring ballet dancers and had a notorious promenade which was the resort of courtesans. Another spectacular example of the new variety theatre was the Tivoli in the Strand
Strand, London
Strand is a street in the City of Westminster, London, England. The street is just over three-quarters of a mile long. It currently starts at Trafalgar Square and runs east to join Fleet Street at Temple Bar, which marks the boundary of the City of London at this point, though its historical length...

 built 1888-90 in an eclectic neo-Romanesque style with Baroque and Moorish-Indian embellishments. "The Tivoli" became a brand name for music-halls all over the British Empire. During 1892, the Royal English Opera House, which had been a financial failure in Shaftesbury Avenue
Shaftesbury Avenue
Shaftesbury Avenue is a major street in central London, England, named after Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, that runs in a north-easterly direction from Piccadilly Circus to New Oxford Street, crossing Charing Cross Road at Cambridge Circus....

, applied for a music hall license and was converted by Walter Emden
Walter Emden
Walter Lawrence Emden was one of the leading English theatre and music hall architects in the building boom of 1885 to 1915.-Biography:...

 into a grand music hall and renamed the Palace Theatre of Varieties
Palace Theatre, London
The Palace Theatre is a West End theatre in the City of Westminster in London. It is an imposing red-brick building that dominates the west side of Cambridge Circus and is located near the intersection of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road...

, managed by Charles Morton
Charles Morton (impresario)
Charles Morton was a Music hall and theatre manager. Born in Hackney, he built the first purpose built tavern Music hall, the Canterbury Music Hall, and became known as the Father of the Halls.-Canterbury Hall:...

. Denied by the newly created LCC
London County Council
London County Council was the principal local government body for the County of London, throughout its 1889–1965 existence, and the first London-wide general municipal authority to be directly elected. It covered the area today known as Inner London and was replaced by the Greater London Council...

 permission to construct the promenade, which was such a popular feature of the Empire and Alhambra, the Palace compensated in the way of adult entertainment by featuring apparently nude women in tableau vivants, though the concerned LCC hastened to reassure patrons that the girls who featured in these displays were actually wearing flesh toned body stockings and were not naked at all.
One of the grandest of these new halls was the Coliseum Theatre
Coliseum Theatre
The London Coliseum is an opera house and major performing venue on St. Martin's Lane, central London. It is one of London's largest and best equipped theatres and opened in 1904, designed by theatrical architect Frank Matcham , for impresario Oswald Stoll...

 built by Oswald Stoll
Oswald Stoll
Sir Oswald Stoll was an Australian-born British theatre manager and the co-founder of the Stoll Moss Group theatre company...

 in 1904 at the bottom of St Martin's Lane. This was followed by the London Palladium
London Palladium
The London Palladium is a 2,286 seat West End theatre located off Oxford Street in the City of Westminster. From the roster of stars who have played there and many televised performances, it is arguably the most famous theatre in London and the United Kingdom, especially for musical variety...

 (1910) in Little Argyll Street.
Both were designed by the prolific Frank Matcham
Frank Matcham
Frank Matcham was a famous English theatrical architect. He is buried in Highgate Cemetery.-Early career:...

. As Music Hall grew in popularity and respectability, and as the licensing authorities exercised ever firmer regulation, the original arrangement of a large hall with tables at which drink was served, changed to that of a drink-free auditorium
Auditorium
An auditorium is a room built to enable an audience to hear and watch performances at venues such as theatres. For movie theaters, the number of auditoriums is expressed as the number of screens.- Etymology :...

. The acceptance of Music Hall as a legitimate cultural form was established by the first Royal Variety Performance
Royal Variety Performance
The Royal Variety Performance is a gala evening held annually in the United Kingdom, which is attended by senior members of the British Royal Family, usually the reigning monarch. In more recent years Queen Elizabeth II and The Prince of Wales have alternately attended the performance...

 before King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

 during 1912 at the Palace Theatre. However, consistent with this new respectability the best-known music hall entertainer of the time, Marie Lloyd
Marie Lloyd
Matilda Alice Victoria Wood was an English music hall singer, best known as Marie Lloyd. Her ability to add lewdness to the most innocent of lyrics led to frequent clashes with the guardians of morality...

, was not invited, being deemed too 'saucy' for presentation to the monarchy.

'Music Hall War' of 1907


The development of syndicates controlling a number of theatres, such as the Stoll circuit, increased tensions between employees and employers. On 22 January 1907, a dispute between artists, stage hands and managers of the Holborn Empire worsened. Strikes in other London and suburban halls followed, organised by the Variety Artistes' Federation. The strike lasted for almost two weeks and was known as the Music Hall War. It became extremely well known, and was advocated enthusiastically by the main spokesmen of the trade union and Labour movement - Ben Tillett
Ben Tillett
Benjamin Tillett was a British socialist, trade union leader and politician. He was born in Bristol and began his working life as a sailor, before travelling to London and taking up work as a docker....

 and Keir Hardie
Keir Hardie
James Keir Hardie, Sr. , was a Scottish socialist and labour leader, and was the first Independent Labour Member of Parliament elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom...

 for example. Picket lines were organized outside the theatres by the artistes, while in the provinces theatre management attempted to oblige artistes to sign a document promising never to join a trade union.
The strike ended in arbitration, which satisfied most of the main demands, including a minimum wage and maximum working week for musicians.

Several music hall entertainers such as Marie Dainton
Marie Dainton
Marie Dainton was an actress of the Victorian and Edwardian eras who appeared regularly in both music halls and in the legitimate theatre.-Early career:...

, Marie Lloyd
Marie Lloyd
Matilda Alice Victoria Wood was an English music hall singer, best known as Marie Lloyd. Her ability to add lewdness to the most innocent of lyrics led to frequent clashes with the guardians of morality...

, Arthur Roberts, Joe Elvin
Joe Elvin
Joe Elvin was a Cockney comedian and music hall entertainer and a Founder of the Grand Order of Water Rats, a show business charity.-Biography:...

 and Gus Elen
Gus Elen
Ernest Augustus Elen was an English music hall singer and comedian. He achieved success from 1891, performing cockney songs including Arf a Pint of Ale, It's a Great Big Shame, Down the Road and If It Wasn't for the 'Ouses in Between in a career lasting over thirty years.Born in Pimlico, London,...

 were strong advocates of the strike, though they themselves earned enough not to be concerned personally in a material sense. Lloyd explained her advocacy:
The pressure for greater rewards for music hall songwriters resulted in the application of copyright law to musical compositions. This in turn increased the profitability of the music publication industry, and the sale of music in printed form. The term "Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century...

" for the music publication industry gained currency from the practice of rival publishers of banging together pots and pans in order to disrupt their competitors' musical auditions. The music publishers at the time (Feldman, Francis and Day...) were large, extremely profitable companies. They sold the right to sing songs to particular artists, and no other person had the right to sing the songs in public.

Recruiting


See also Recruitment to the British Army during World War I
Recruitment to the British Army during World War I
At the start of 1914 the British Army had a reported strength of 710,000 men including reserves, of which around 80,000 were regular troops ready for war. By the end of World War I almost 1 in 4 of the total male population of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland had joined, over five...


World War I may have been the high-water-mark of music hall popularity. The artists and composers threw themselves into rallying public support and enthusiasm for the war effort. Patriotic music hall compositions like Keep the Home Fires Burning (1914), Pack up Your Troubles (1915), It's a Long Way to Tipperary
It's a Long Way to Tipperary
It's a Long Way to Tipperary is a British music hall and marching song written by Jack Judge and co-credited to, but not co-written by, Henry James "Harry" Williams. It was allegedly written for a 5 shilling bet in Stalybridge on 30 January 1912 and performed the next night at the local music hall...

(1914) and We Don't Want to Lose You (but we think you ought to Go), were sung by music hall audiences, and sometimes by soldiers in the trenches.

Many songs promoted recruitment (All the boys in khaki get the nice girls, 1915); others satirised particular elements of the war experience. What did you do in the Great war, Daddy (1916) criticised profiteers and slackers; Vesta Tilley
Vesta Tilley
Matilda Alice Powles , was an English male impersonator. At the age of 11, she adopted the stage name Vesta Tilley becoming the most famous and well paid music hall male impersonator of her day...

's I've got a bit of a blighty one (1916) showed a soldier delighted to have a wound just serious enough to be sent home. The rhymes give a sense of grim humour (When they wipe my face with sponges/ and they feed me on blancmange
Blancmange
Blancmange is a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss, and often flavored with almonds. It is usually set in a mould and served cold. Although traditionally white, blancmanges are frequently given a pink color as well...

s/ I'm glad I've got a bit of a blighty one
).

Tilley became more popular than ever during this time, when she and her husband, Walter de Frece
Walter de Frece
Sir Abraham Walter de Frece was a British theatre impresario, and later Conservative Party politician, who served as a Member of Parliament from 1920 to 1931...

, managed a military recruitment drive. In the guise of characters like Tommy in the Trench and Jack Tar Home from Sea, Tilley performed songs like The army of today's all right and Jolly Good Luck to the Girl who Loves a Soldier. This is how she got the nickname Britain's best recruiting sergeant - young men were sometimes asked to join the army on stage during her show. She also performed in hospitals and sold War Bonds. Her husband was knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

ed in 1919 for his own services to the war effort, with Tilley becoming Lady de Frece.

Possibly the most notorious of music hall songs from the First World War was Oh! It's a lovely war
Oh, What a Lovely War!
Oh, What a Lovely War! is an epic musical originated by Charles Chilton as a radio play, The Long Long Trail in December 1961, and transferred to stage by Gerry Raffles in partnership with Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop in 1963...

(1917), popularised by male impersonator
Drag king
Drag kings are mostly female performance artists who dress in masculine drag and personify male gender stereotypes as part of their performance. A typical drag king routine may incorporate dancing and singing, live as in the Momma's Boyz of San Francisco's performances or lip-synching...

 Ella Shields
Ella Shields
Ella Shields was a music hall singer and male-impersonator. Her famous signature song, "Burlington Bertie from Bow", written by her manager and first husband, William Hargreaves, was an immediate hit. Though American-born, Ella achieved her greatest success in England.-Biography:Ella Shields was...

.

Decline


Music hall continued during the interwar period
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

, but no longer as the single dominant form of popular entertainment in Britain. The improvement of cinema
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, the development of radio, and the cheapening of the gramophone damaged its popularity greatly. It now had to compete with Jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, Swing
Swing (genre)
Swing music, also known as swing jazz or simply swing, is a form of jazz music that developed in the early 1930s and became a distinctive style by 1935 in the United States...

 and Big Band
Big band
A big band is a type of musical ensemble associated with jazz and the Swing Era typically consisting of rhythm, brass, and woodwind instruments totaling approximately twelve to twenty-five musicians...

 dance music. Licensing restrictions also changed its character.
In 1914 the LCC
London City Council
London City Council is the governing body of the city of London, Ontario, Canada.-Composition:One Councillor represents each of the 14 city wards along with the Mayor,Joe Fontana resulting in a 15-member city council....

 enacted that drinking be banished from the auditorium into a separate bar and during 1923 even the separate bar was abolished by parliamentary decree. The exemption of the theatres from this latter act prompted some critics to denounce this legislation as an attempt to deprive the working classes of their pleasures, as a form of social control, whilst sparing the supposedly more responsible upper classes who patronised the theatres (though this could be due to the licensing restrictions brought about due to the Defence of the Realm Act 1914
Defence of the Realm Act 1914
The Defence of the Realm Act was passed in the United Kingdom on 8 August 1914, during the early weeks of World War I. It gave the government wide-ranging powers during the war period, such as the power to requisition buildings or land needed for the war effort, or to make regulations creating...

, which also applied to public houses as well). Even so, the music hall gave rise to such major stars as George Formby, Gracie Fields
Gracie Fields
Dame Gracie Fields, DBE , was an English-born, later Italian-based actress, singer and comedienne and star of both cinema and music hall.-Early life:...

, Max Miller, Will Hay
Will Hay
William Thomson "Will" Hay was an English comedian, actor, film director and amateur astronomer.-Early life:He was born in Stockton-on-Tees, in north east England, to William R...

, and Flanagan and Allen
Flanagan and Allen
Flanagan and Allen were a British singing and comedy double act popular during World War II. Its members were Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen...

 during this period.

In the early 1950s, Rock and Roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

, whose performers initially topped music hall bills, attracted a young audience who had little interest in the music hall acts while driving the older audience away. The final demise was competition from television, which grew very popular after the Queen's coronation was televised. Some music halls tried to retain an audience by putting on striptease
Striptease
A striptease is an erotic or exotic dance in which the performer gradually undresses, either partly or completely, in a seductive and sexually suggestive manner...

 acts. In 1957, the playwright John Osborne
John Osborne
John James Osborne was an English playwright, screenwriter, actor and critic of the Establishment. The success of his 1956 play Look Back in Anger transformed English theatre....

 delivered this elegy:
Moss Empires
Moss Empires
Moss Empires was a British company formed in Edinburgh from the merger of the theatre companies owned by Sir Edward Moss and Sir Oswald Stoll in 1898. This created the largest British chain of music halls...

, the largest British Music Hall chain, closed the majority of its theatres in 1960, closely followed by the death of music hall stalwart Max Miller in 1963, prompting one contemporary to write that: "Music-halls...died this afternoon when they buried Max Miller". Miller himself had sometimes said that the genre would die with him. Many music hall performers, unable to find work, fell into poverty; some didn't even have a home, having spent their working lives living in digs between performances.

Stage and film musicals, however, continued to be influenced by the music hall idiom, including Oliver!
Oliver!
Oliver! is a British musical, with script, music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. The musical is based upon the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens....

, Dr Dolittle and My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady is a musical based upon George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe...

. The BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 series The Good Old Days
The Good Old Days
The Good Old Days is a popular BBC television light entertainment programme which ran from 1953 to 1983.It was performed at the Leeds City Varieties and recreated an authentic atmosphere of the Victorian–Edwardian music hall with songs and sketches of the era performed by present-day...

, which ran for thirty years, recreated the music hall for the modern audience, and the Paul Daniels
Paul Daniels
Paul Daniels, born Newton Edward Daniels on 6 April 1938, is a British magician and television performer. He achieved international fame through his television series The Paul Daniels Magic Show, which ran on the BBC from 1979 to 1994.-Early life:...

 Magic Show
allowed several speciality acts a television presence from 1979 to 1994. Aimed at a younger audience, but still owing a lot to the music hall heritage, was the late '70s series The Muppet Show
The Muppet Show
The Muppet Show is a British television programme produced by American puppeteer Jim Henson and featuring Muppets. After two pilot episodes were produced in 1974 and 1975, the show premiered on 5 September 1976 and five series were produced until 15 March 1981, lasting 120 episodes...

.

History of the songs


The musical forms most associated with music hall evolved in part from traditional folk song and songs written for popular drama, becoming by the 1850s a distinct musical style. Subject matter became more contemporary and humorous, and accompaniment was provided by larger house-orchestras as increasing affluence gave the lower classes more access to commercial entertainment and to a wider range of musical instruments, including the piano. The consequent change in musical taste from traditional to more professional forms of entertainment arose in response to the rapid industrialisation
Industrialisation
Industrialization is the process of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial one...

 and urbanisation of previously rural populations during the industrial revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

. The newly created urban communities, cut off from their cultural roots, required new and readily accessible forms of entertainment.

Music halls were originally tavern rooms which provided entertainment, in the form of music and speciality acts, for their patrons. By the middle years of the nineteenth century the first purpose-built music halls were being built in London. The halls created a demand for new and catchy popular songs that could no longer be met from the traditional folk song repertoire. Professional songwriters were enlisted to fill the gap.

The emergence of a distinct music hall style can be credited to a fusion of musical influences. Music hall songs needed to gain and hold the attention of an often jaded and unruly urban audience. In America from the 1840s Stephen Foster
Stephen Foster
Stephen Collins Foster , known as the "father of American music", was the pre-eminent songwriter in the United States of the 19th century...

 had reinvigorated folk song with the admixture of Negro spiritual
Spiritual (music)
Spirituals are religious songs which were created by enslaved African people in America.-Terminology and origin:...

 to produce a new type of popular song. Songs like Old Folks at Home
Old Folks at Home
"Old Folks at Home" is a minstrel song written by Stephen Foster in 1851. It was intended to be performed by the New York blackface troupe Christy's Minstrels. E. P. Christy, the troupe's leader, appears on early printings of the sheet music as the song's creator...

(1851) and Oh, Dem Golden Slippers (James Bland, 1879) spread round the globe, taking with them the idiom and appurtenances of the minstrel
Minstrel show
The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, performed by white people in blackface or, especially after the Civil War, black people in blackface....

 song. Other influences on the rapidly-developing music hall idiom were Irish and European music, particularly the jig
Jig
The Jig is a form of lively folk dance, as well as the accompanying dance tune, originating in England in the 16th century and today most associated with Irish dance music and Scottish country dance music...

, polka
Polka
The polka is a Central European dance and also a genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia...

, and waltz
Waltz
The waltz is a ballroom and folk dance in time, performed primarily in closed position.- History :There are several references to a sliding or gliding dance,- a waltz, from the 16th century including the representations of the printer H.S. Beheim...

.

Typically a music hall song consists of a series of verses sung by the performer alone, and a repeated chorus
Refrain
A refrain is the line or lines that are repeated in music or in verse; the "chorus" of a song...

 which carries the principal melody
Melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

, and in which the audience is encouraged to join.

In Britain, the first music hall songs often promoted the alcoholic wares of the owners of the halls in which they were performed. Songs like Glorious Beer, and the first major music hall success, Champagne Charlie
Champagne Charlie (song)
Champagne Charlie is a music hall song from the 19th century composed by Alfred Lee with lyrics by George Leybourne. It was popularised by performer George Leybourne. The song was first performed at the Sun Music Hall, Knightsbridge in 1867...

(1867) had a major influence in establishing the new art form. The tune of Champagne Charlie became used for the Salvation Army
Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian church known for its thrift stores and charity work. It is an international movement that currently works in over a hundred countries....

 hymn Bless His Name, He Sets Me Free (1881). When asked why the tune should be used like this, William Booth
William Booth
William Booth was a British Methodist preacher who founded The Salvation Army and became its first General...

 is said to have replied, Why should the devil have all the good tunes?. The people the Army sought to save, knew nothing of the hymn tune
Hymn tune
A hymn tune is the melody of a musical composition to which a hymn text is sung. Musically speaking, a hymn is generally understood to have four-part harmony, a fast harmonic rhythm , and no refrain or chorus....

s or gospel melodies used in the churches, but "the music hall had been their melody school".

By the 1870s the songs were free of their folk music origins, and particular songs also started to become associated with particular singers, often with exclusive contracts with the songwriter, just as many pop songs are today. Towards the end of the style the music became influenced by ragtime
Ragtime
Ragtime is an original musical genre which enjoyed its peak popularity between 1897 and 1918. Its main characteristic trait is its syncopated, or "ragged," rhythm. It began as dance music in the red-light districts of American cities such as St. Louis and New Orleans years before being published...

 and jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, before being overtaken by them.

Music hall songs were often composed with their working class audiences in mind. Songs like My Old Man (Said Follow the Van), Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road, and Waiting at the Church, expressed in melodic form situations with which the urban poor were very familiar. Music Hall songs could be romantic, patriotic, humorous or sentimental, as the need arose. The most popular Music Hall songs became the basis for the Pub song
Pub song
In English popular culture, the "traditional" pub songs typified by the Cockney "knees up" mostly come from the classics of the music hall, along with numbers from film, the stage and other forms of popular music....

s of the typical Cockney
Cockney
The term Cockney has both geographical and linguistic associations. Geographically and culturally, it often refers to working class Londoners, particularly those in the East End...

 "knees up
Knees Up Mother Brown
"Knees Up Mother Brown" is a song, published in 1938, by when it had already been known for some years. It dates to at least 1918 and appears to have been sung widely in London on 11 November of that year, Armistice Night, at the end of the First World War...

".

Although a number of songs show a sharply ironic and knowing view of working class life, no doubt a larger number were repetitive, derivative, written quickly and sung to make a living rather than a work of art.

Famous music hall songs

For a fuller list see Music hall songs
Music hall songs
There are a very large number of music hall songs, and most of them have been forgotten. In London between 1900 and 1910, a single publishing company, Francis, Day and Hunter, published between forty and fifty songs a month....

  • "Any Old Iron
    Any Old Iron (song)
    "Any Old Iron" is an old British Music hall song written by Charles Collins, Fred Terry and E.A. Sheppard. The song was made famous by Harry Champion, who sang it as part of his act and recorded it....

    " (Charles Collins; Terry Sheppard) sung by Harry Champion
    Harry Champion
    William Crump , better known by the stage name Harry Champion, was an English music hall composer, singer and Cockney comedian, whose onstage persona appealed chiefly to the working class communities of East London...

    .
  • "Boiled Beef and Carrots
    Boiled Beef and Carrots
    "Boiled Beef and Carrots" is a comedic musical hall song published in 1909, and composed by Charles Collins and Fred Murray.The song was made famous by Harry Champion who sang it as part of his act and recorded it...

    " (Charles Collins and Fred Murray
    Fred Murray
    Frederick Anthony "Fred" Murray is an Irish footballer currently playing for Luton Town.-Career:...

    ) sung by Harry Champion.
  • "The Boy I Love is up in the Gallery
    The Boy I Love Is up in the Gallery
    "The Boy I Love Is Up in the Gallery" is a music hall song written for the music hall star Miss Nelly Power by George Ware in 1885, and made famous by Marie Lloyd...

    " (George Ware) sung by Nellie Power and Marie Lloyd
    Marie Lloyd
    Matilda Alice Victoria Wood was an English music hall singer, best known as Marie Lloyd. Her ability to add lewdness to the most innocent of lyrics led to frequent clashes with the guardians of morality...

    .
  • "Burlington Bertie from Bow
    Burlington Bertie
    "Burlington Bertie" is a music hall song composed by Harry B. Norris in 1900 and sung by Vesta Tilley. It concerns an aristocratic young idler who pursues a life of leisure in the West End of London....

    " (William Hargreaves) sung by Ella Shields
    Ella Shields
    Ella Shields was a music hall singer and male-impersonator. Her famous signature song, "Burlington Bertie from Bow", written by her manager and first husband, William Hargreaves, was an immediate hit. Though American-born, Ella achieved her greatest success in England.-Biography:Ella Shields was...

    .
  • "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow
    Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow
    "Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow Wow" is a song written in 1892 by prolific English songwriter Joseph Tabrar.It was written for, and first performed in 1892 by, Vesta Victoria at the South London Palace, holding a kitten. The same year it was recorded by Silas Leachman for the North American Phonograph...

    " (Joseph Tabrar
    Joseph Tabrar
    Joseph Tabrar was one of the most famous songwriters of British music hall , probably most famous for the song "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow" ....

    ) sung by Vesta Victoria
    Vesta Victoria
    Vesta Victoria was an English music hall singer and comedian. Although born in Leeds, Yorkshire, Vesta adopted a Cockney persona on stage...

    .
  • "Daisy Bell
    Daisy Bell
    "Daisy Bell" is a popular song with the well-known chorus "Daisy, Daisy/Give me your answer do/I'm half crazy/all for the love of you" as well as the line "...a bicycle built for two".-History:"Daisy Bell" was composed by Harry Dacre in 1892...

    " (Harry Dacre
    Harry Dacre
    Harry Dacre was an English songwriter.Dacre had a hit in 1892 with the song "Daisy Bell" , made famous by Katie Lawrence, and then in 1899 with the song "I'll Be Your Sweetheart"....

    ) sung by Katie Lawrence
    Katie Lawrence
    Katie Lawrence was an English music-hall singer, best known for Harry Dacre's 1890s hit "Daisy Bell."-Appearances in other media:...

    .
  • "Down at the Old Bull and Bush" (Harry von Tilzer
    Harry Von Tilzer
    Harry Von Tilzer was a very popular United States songwriter.-Biography:Von Tilzer was born in Goshen, Indiana under the name Aaron Gumbinsky which he shortened to Harry Gumm. He ran away and joined a traveling circus at age 14, where he took his new name by adding 'Von' to his mother's maiden...

    ; Andrew B. Sterling
    Andrew B. Sterling
    Andrew B. Sterling was an American lyricist.Born in New York City, after he graduated from high school, he began writing songs and vaudevilles. An important event was his meeting with the composer Harry Von Tilzer in 1898...

    ) sung by Florrie Forde
    Florrie Forde
    Florrie Forde , born Flora May Augusta Flannagan, was an Australian popular singer and entertainer. She was one of the greatest stars of the early 20th century music hall....

    .
  • "Goodbye, Dolly Grey" (Paul Barnes; Will. D. Cobb) sung by George Lashwood.
  • "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?
    Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?
    "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?", music and lyrics by C.W. Murphy and Will Letters , is a British music hall song, originally titled "Kelly From the Isle of Man". It was adapted for American audiences by William McKenna in 1909 for the American musical The Jolly Bachelors...

    " (C.W. Murphy and Will Letters) sung by Florrie Forde.
  • "Hello, Hello, Who's Your Lady Friend?" (Harry Fragson
    Harry Fragson
    Harry Fragson was a British music hall singer and comedian, born in Soho, London. While living in Paris, he developed an act involving impressions of French music hall performers, which gradually became popular, allowing him to introduce his own material. He came back to London in 1905 and became...

    ; Worton David and Bert Lee
    Bert Lee
    Bert Lee was an English songwriter. He wrote for music hall and the musical stage, often in partnership with R. P. Weston.Lee was born 11 June 1880 in Ravensthorpe, Yorkshire, England....

    ) sung by Mark Sheridan
    Mark Sheridan
    Mark Sheridan born Frederick Shaw was an English music hall comedian and singer. He became a popular singer of lusty seaside songs and was the original performer of the 1909 J.Glover-Kind classic, "I Do Like To be Beside the Seaside"...

    .
  • "Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy" (C.W. Murphy and Will Letters) sung by Florrie Forde.
  • "I Belong To Glasgow
    I Belong to Glasgow
    "I Belong To Glasgow" is a song written and recorded by the music hall entertainer Will Fyffe, in 1920. It also has been performed by Danny Kaye, Eartha Kitt, Gracie Fields and Kirk Douglas....

    ", written and performed by Will Fyffe
    Will Fyffe
    Will Fyffe was a major star of the 1930s and 1940s, a star of stage, screen and shellac.Fyffe made his debut in his father's stock company at the age of six...

    .
  • "I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside
    I Do Like To be Beside the Seaside
    "I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside" is a popular British music hall song. It was written in 1907 by John A. Glover-Kind and made famous by music hall singer Mark Sheridan who first recorded it in 1909. It speaks of the singer's love for the seaside, and their wish to return there for their summer...

    " (John A. Glover-Kind)
  • "I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am
    I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am
    "I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am" is a 1910 British music hall song by Fred Murray and R. P. Weston...

    " (1911) http://www.archive.org/download/HarryChampion/HarryChampion-ImHeneryTheEighth.mp3 (Fred Murray
    Fred Murray
    Frederick Anthony "Fred" Murray is an Irish footballer currently playing for Luton Town.-Career:...

     and Bert Weston) sung by Harry Champion.
  • "I Live in Trafalgar Square" (C.W. Murphy) sung by Morny Cash.
  • "If It Wasn't For The 'Ouses In Between" (George Le Brunn; Edgar Bateman) sung by Gus Elen
    Gus Elen
    Ernest Augustus Elen was an English music hall singer and comedian. He achieved success from 1891, performing cockney songs including Arf a Pint of Ale, It's a Great Big Shame, Down the Road and If It Wasn't for the 'Ouses in Between in a career lasting over thirty years.Born in Pimlico, London,...

    .
  • "It's a Bit of a Ruin That Cromwell Knocked About a Bit" (Harry Bedford
    Harry Bedford
    Henry "Harry" Bedford was an English professional football player. He scored 326 league goals in 485 games.-Club career:...

    ; Terry Sullivan) sung by Marie Lloyd.
  • "It's a Long Way to Tipperary
    It's a Long Way to Tipperary
    It's a Long Way to Tipperary is a British music hall and marching song written by Jack Judge and co-credited to, but not co-written by, Henry James "Harry" Williams. It was allegedly written for a 5 shilling bet in Stalybridge on 30 January 1912 and performed the next night at the local music hall...

    " (1914) http://firstworldwar.com/audio/John%20McCormack%20-%20It's%20A%20Long%20Way%20To%20Tipperary.mp3 (Jack Judge
    Jack Judge
    Jack Judge was a song-writer and music-hall entertainer best remembered for writing the song It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary.- Life :...

     and Harry Williams) sung by John McCormack.
  • "Let's All Go Down the Strand" (Harry Castling and C.W. Murphy) sung by Charles R. Whittle.
  • "My Old Man (Said Follow the Van)" (Charles Collins and Fred W. Leigh) sung by Marie Lloyd.
  • "Oh! It's a lovely war
    Oh, What a Lovely War!
    Oh, What a Lovely War! is an epic musical originated by Charles Chilton as a radio play, The Long Long Trail in December 1961, and transferred to stage by Gerry Raffles in partnership with Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop in 1963...

    " sung by Ella Shields.
  • "Oh, Mr. Porter" (George Le Brunn; Thomas Le Brunn) sung by Marie Lloyd.
  • "Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay" (Harry J. Sayers) sung by Lottie Collins
    Lottie Collins
    Lottie Collins was an English singer and dancer, most famous for introducing the song "Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay!"-Life:...

    .
  • "Where Did You Get That Hat?" (James Rolmaz) sung by J.C Heffron.
  • "Waiting At The Church" http://www.archive.org/download/VestaVictoria/VestaVictoria-WaitingattheChurch.mp3 (Henry E. Pether; Frank W. Leigh) sung by Vesta Victoria.

Music hall songwriters

  • Harry Dacre
    Harry Dacre
    Harry Dacre was an English songwriter.Dacre had a hit in 1892 with the song "Daisy Bell" , made famous by Katie Lawrence, and then in 1899 with the song "I'll Be Your Sweetheart"....

    , composer of "Daisy Bell
    Daisy Bell
    "Daisy Bell" is a popular song with the well-known chorus "Daisy, Daisy/Give me your answer do/I'm half crazy/all for the love of you" as well as the line "...a bicycle built for two".-History:"Daisy Bell" was composed by Harry Dacre in 1892...

    "
  • Augustus Durandeau, writer of "If You Want To Know The Time, Ask A Policeman", "Come Where The Booze Is Cheaper", "Never introduce yer Donah to a pal"
  • Noel Gay
    Noel Gay
    Noel Gay was born Reginald Moxon Armitage. He also used the name Stanley Hill professionally. He was a successful British composer of popular music of the 1930s and 1940s whose output comprised 45 songs as well as the music for 28 films and 26 London shows...

    , writer of "Lambeth Walk", "There's Something About a Soldier", "Leaning on a Lamppost"
  • Fred Gilbert, composer of "The Man that Broke the Bank At Monte Carlo"
  • Harry Lauder
    Harry Lauder
    Sir Henry Lauder , known professionally as Harry Lauder, was an international Scottish entertainer, described by Sir Winston Churchill as "Scotland's greatest ever ambassador!"-Early life:...

    , writer of "Stop your Tickling Jock", "I Love A Lassie"
  • George Le Brunn, writer of "Oh! Mr Porter!"
  • Fred W Leigh, composer of "Don't Dilly Dally" and "The Army of Today"
  • Arthur Lloyd, over 100 songs.
  • Lionel Monckton
    Lionel Monckton
    Lionel John Alexander Monckton was an English writer and composer of musical theatre. He was Britain's most popular musical theatre composer of the early years of the 20th century.-Early life:...

    , composer of "Moonstruck", "Soldiers in the Park", "The Pipes of Pan"
  • C.W. Murphy, composer of "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?
    Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?
    "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?", music and lyrics by C.W. Murphy and Will Letters , is a British music hall song, originally titled "Kelly From the Isle of Man". It was adapted for American audiences by William McKenna in 1909 for the American musical The Jolly Bachelors...

    "
  • Felix Powell
    Felix Powell
    Felix Lloyd Powell was a British Staff Sergeant most famous for writing the music for marching song "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile", in 1915...

    , writer of "Pack up Your Troubles"
  • George Alex Stevens
    George Alex Stevens
    George Alex Stevens was a songwriter and musical show director. In more than 60 years of songwriting he had more than 2000 songs published under the names "G. Alex Stevens", 'Geo A Stevens' and "George A. Stevens"...

     , writer of "On Mother Kelly's Doorstep", "Mother I Love You", "Chump Chop and Chips" and "When the Harvest Moon is Shining".
  • Joseph Tabrar
    Joseph Tabrar
    Joseph Tabrar was one of the most famous songwriters of British music hall , probably most famous for the song "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow" ....

    , writer of "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow
    Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow
    "Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow Wow" is a song written in 1892 by prolific English songwriter Joseph Tabrar.It was written for, and first performed in 1892 by, Vesta Victoria at the South London Palace, holding a kitten. The same year it was recorded by Silas Leachman for the North American Phonograph...

    "
  • Harry Wincott
    Harry Wincott
    Harry Wincott was an English songwriter, born Alfred James Walden, 1 January 1867, London.Wincott was the writer of many popular pub songs from the turn of the 20th century...

    , writer of "The Old Dun Cow"
  • Joseph Bryan Geoghegan born 1816 Barton upon Irwell, Lancashire (musician and songwriter) writer of "Down in a Coal Mine", "John Barleycorn", "Ten Thousand Milesaway", "Pat works on the Railway", "Johnny, I hardly knew ya", and many others. In later life he managed Music Halls including Bolton Music Hall.
  • Matthew Hall
    Matthew Hall
    Matthew Hall is a Canadian figure skater. He is the 1989 bronze medalist at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships as well as the 1989 Canada Games. He trained at the Mariposa School of Skating....

     (Merry Matt Hall) born 1849 Batley,West Yorkshire. Music Hall comic, married Joseph B Geoghegan's daughter Kathleen. Their many children became actors and entertainers.]]

Music hall comedy


The typical music hall comedian was a man or woman, usually dressed 'in character' to suit the subject of the song, or sometimes attired in absurd and eccentric style. Until well into the twentieth century the acts were essentially vocal, with songs telling a story, accompanied by a minimum of patter. They included a variety of genres, including:
  • Lions Comiques: essentially, men dressed as a 'toff', who sang songs about drinking champagne, going to the races, going to the ball, womanising and gambling, and living the life of an Aristocrat.
  • Male and female impersonators, perhaps more in the style of a pantomime dame
    Pantomime dame
    A pantomime dame is a traditional character in British pantomime. It is a continuation of en travesti portrayal of female characters by male actors in drag. They are often played either in an extremely camp style, or else by men acting 'butch' in women's clothing...

     than a modern drag queen
    Drag queen
    A drag queen is a man who dresses, and usually acts, like a caricature woman often for the purpose of entertaining. There are many kinds of drag artists and they vary greatly, from professionals who have starred in films to people who just try it once. Drag queens also vary by class and culture and...

    . Nevertheless these included some more sophisticated performers such as Vesta Tilley
    Vesta Tilley
    Matilda Alice Powles , was an English male impersonator. At the age of 11, she adopted the stage name Vesta Tilley becoming the most famous and well paid music hall male impersonator of her day...

    , whose male impersonations communicated real social commentary.


'Stand up', spoken wisecracking acts and double acts with one performer being prompted and interrupted by a 'straight' partner, belong to later developments, derived partly from pantomime and partly from the importation of American comedy styles. The phrases 'I don't wish to know that!' and 'kindly leave the stage!' and some of today's habits, such as finishing on a song, belong to this later period. Inter-war radio programmes such as Band Waggon
Band Waggon
Band Waggon was a comedy radio show broadcast by the BBC from 1938 to 1940. The first season featured Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch. In the second season, Askey and Murdoch were joined by Syd Walker, and the third season added Diana Clare for two episodes.Band Waggon was the first comedy show to...

adapted the music hall and variety traditions to the new medium, while later, 'The Goon Show' took radio comedy into the surreal. Early television variety show picked up some of the pieces, but this was at a time when music hall was already on its last legs. Nearer to today, the spirit of music hall genre has enjoyed a new kind of life in television's The Muppet Show
The Muppet Show
The Muppet Show is a British television programme produced by American puppeteer Jim Henson and featuring Muppets. After two pilot episodes were produced in 1974 and 1975, the show premiered on 5 September 1976 and five series were produced until 15 March 1981, lasting 120 episodes...

.

In the modern comedy world the music hall is represented by Ida Barr, a fictional pensioner from the East End. Ex Music Hall singer who has relaunched her career singing rap songs. She has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 with her show Artificial Hip Hop.

Speciality acts


The vocal content of the music hall bills, was, from the beginning, accompanied by many other kinds of act, some of them quite weird and wonderful. These were known collectively as speciality acts (abbreviated to 'spesh'), which, over time, have included:

  • Aerial acts
    Trapeze
    A trapeze is a short horizontal bar hung by ropes or metal straps from a support. It is an aerial apparatus commonly found in circus performances...

    , of the sort usually seen at the Circus
  • Adagio: essentially a sort of cross between a dance act and a juggling
    Juggling
    Juggling is a skill involving moving objects for entertainment or sport. The most recognizable form of juggling is toss juggling, in which the juggler throws objects up to catch and toss up again. This may be one object or many objects, at the same time with one or many hands. Jugglers often refer...

     act, consisting usually of a male dancer who threw a slim, pretty young girl around. Some aspects of modern dance choreography evolved from Adagio acts.
  • Magic
    Magic (illusion)
    Magic is a performing art that entertains audiences by staging tricks or creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means...

     acts and escapologists
    Escapology
    For the Jessica Mauboy song, see Inescapable.Escapology is the practice of escaping from restraints or other traps. Escapologists escape from handcuffs, straitjackets, cages, coffins, steel boxes, barrels, bags, burning buildings, fish-tanks and other perils, often in combination.-History:The art...

    , such as Harry Houdini
    Harry Houdini
    Harry Houdini was a Hungarian-born American magician and escapologist, stunt performer, actor and film producer noted for his sensational escape acts...

    .
  • Cycling acts: again, a development of a Circus act, consisting of either a solo or a troupe of trick cyclists. There was even seven-piece a cycling band called Seven Musical Savonas, who played fifty instruments between them, and Kaufmann's Cycling Beauties, a troupe of girls in Victorian swim wear.
  • Ventriloquists
    Ventriloquism
    Ventriloquism, or ventriloquy, is an act of stagecraft in which a person manipulates his or her voice so that it appears that the voice is coming from elsewhere, usually a puppeteered "dummy"...

    , or Vent acts as they were called in the business.
  • Electric acts, using the newly discovered phenomena of static electricity
    Static electricity
    Static electricity refers to the build-up of electric charge on the surface of objects. The static charges remain on an object until they either bleed off to ground or are quickly neutralized by a discharge. Static electricity can be contrasted with current electricity, which can be delivered...

     to produce tricks such as lighting gas jets and setting fire to handkerchiefs through the performers fingertips.
  • Drag artists. Female entertainers dressed as men, such as Vesta Tilley
    Vesta Tilley
    Matilda Alice Powles , was an English male impersonator. At the age of 11, she adopted the stage name Vesta Tilley becoming the most famous and well paid music hall male impersonator of her day...

    . Or male entertainers dressed as women, such as impressionist, Danny La Rue
    Danny La Rue
    Danny La Rue, OBE was an Irish-born British entertainer known for his singing and drag impersonations.-Early life:...

    , or comedian, Rex Jameson, in the character of Mrs Shufflewick
  • Knife throwing
    Impalement arts
    Impalement arts are a type of performing art in which a performer plays the role of human target for a fellow performer who demonstrates accuracy skills in disciplines such as knife throwing and archery. Impalement is actually what the performers endeavour to avoid - the thrower or marksman aims...

     and sword swallowing
    Sword swallowing
    Sword swallowing is an ancient performance art in which the performer passes a sword through the mouth and down the esophagus towards the stomach...

    . The most spectacular of its time was the Victorina Troupe, who swallowed a sword fired from a rifle.
  • Juggling
    Juggling
    Juggling is a skill involving moving objects for entertainment or sport. The most recognizable form of juggling is toss juggling, in which the juggler throws objects up to catch and toss up again. This may be one object or many objects, at the same time with one or many hands. Jugglers often refer...

     and plate spinning
    Plate spinning
    Plate spinning is a circus manipulation art where a person spins plates, bowls and other flat objects on poles, without them falling off. Plate spinning relies on the gyroscopic effect, in the same way a top stays upright while spinning...

     acts. Another variation was the Diabolo
    Diabolo
    The diabolo is a juggling prop consisting of a spool which is whirled and tossed on a string tied to two sticks held one in each hand. A huge variety of tricks are possible using the sticks, string, and various body parts...

    .
  • Feats of strength by both strongmen
    Strongman (strength athlete)
    In the 19th century, the term strongman referred to an exhibitor of strength or circus performers of similar ilk who displayed feats of strength such as the bent press , supporting large amounts of...

     and strongwomen.
  • Fire eater
    Fire eater
    A fire eater is an entertainer, often a street artist or part of a sideshow. The performer places flaming objects into their mouth and extinguishes them by cutting off oxygen. They also practice controlling and transferring the flame....

    s and other eating acts, such as eating glass, razor blade
    Razor
    A razor is a bladed tool primarily used in the removal of unwanted body hair through the act of shaving. Kinds of razors include straight razors, disposable razors and electric razors....

    s, goldfish
    Goldfish
    The goldfish is a freshwater fish in the family Cyprinidae of order Cypriniformes. It was one of the earliest fish to be domesticated, and is one of the most commonly kept aquarium fish....

     etc.
  • Wrestling
    Wrestling
    Wrestling is a form of grappling type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position...

     and jujitsu exhibitions were both popular speciality acts, forming the basis of modern professional wrestling
    Professional wrestling
    Professional wrestling is a mode of spectacle, combining athletics and theatrical performance.Roland Barthes, "The World of Wrestling", Mythologies, 1957 It takes the form of events, held by touring companies, which mimic a title match combat sport...

    .
  • Mentalism
    Mentalism
    Mentalism is a performing art in which its practitioners, known as mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities. Performances may appear to include telepathy, clairvoyance, divination, precognition, psychokinesis, mediumship, mind control, memory feats and rapid...

     acts. Commonly a male mentalist, blindfolded on stage, and an attractive female assistant passing among the audience. The assistant would collect objects from the audience, and the mentalist would identify each by 'reading' the assistants mind. This was usually accomplished by a clever system of codes and clues from the assistant.
  • Mime artist
    Mime artist
    A mime artist is someone who uses mime as a theatrical medium or as a performance art, involving miming, or the acting out a story through body motions, without use of speech. In earlier times, in English, such a performer was referred to as a mummer...

    s and impressionists
    Impressionist (entertainment)
    An impressionist or a mimic is a performer whose act consists of imitating the voice and mannerisms of others. The word usually refers to a professional comedian/entertainer who specializes in such performances and has developed a wide repertoire of impressions, including adding to them, often to...

    .
  • Trampoline
    Trampoline
    A trampoline is a device consisting of a piece of taut, strong fabric stretched over a steel frame using many coiled springs. People bounce on trampolines for recreational and competitive purposes....

     acts.
  • Animal acts: Talking dogs, Flea circus
    Flea circus
    A flea circus refers to a circus sideshow attraction in which fleas are attached to miniature carts and other items, and encouraged to perform circus acts within a small housing...

    es, and all manner of animals doing tricks.
  • Stilt
    Stilts
    Stilts are poles, posts or pillars used to allow a person or structure to stand at a distance above the ground. Walking stilts are poles equipped with steps for the feet to stand on, or straps to attach them to the legs, for the purpose of walking while elevated above a normal height...

     walkers.
  • Puppet
    Puppet
    A puppet is an inanimate object or representational figure animated or manipulated by an entertainer, who is called a puppeteer. It is used in puppetry, a play or a presentation that is a very ancient form of theatre....

     acts, including human puppets and living doll acts.
  • Comic pianists, such as John Orlando Parry
    John Orlando Parry
    John Orlando Parry was an English actor, pianist, artist, comedian and singer.-Early career:Parry, the only son of Welsh musician John Parry , was born in London and, at an early age, was taught by his father to sing and to play the harp and the piano. He also studied the harp under Robert Bochsa...

     and George Grossmith
    George Grossmith
    George Grossmith was an English comedian, writer, composer, actor, and singer. His performing career spanned more than four decades...

    .
  • Cowboy/Wild West acts.
  • Shadow puppet acts.

Music hall performers


  • Arthur Askey
    Arthur Askey
    Arthur Bowden Askey CBE was a prominent English comedian.- Life and career :Askey was born at 29 Moses Street, Liverpool, the eldest child and only son of Samuel Askey , secretary of the firm Sugar Products of Liverpool, and his wife, Betsy Bowden , of Knutsford, Cheshire...

     (1900–1982)
  • Joséphine Baker
    Josephine Baker
    Josephine Baker was an American dancer, singer, and actress who found fame in her adopted homeland of France. She was given such nicknames as the "Bronze Venus", the "Black Pearl", and the "Créole Goddess"....

     (1906–1975)
  • Fred Barnes
    Fred Barnes (performer)
    Frederick "Fred" Jester Barnes was an English music hall artist.He experienced extremes of success and failure, and as a young gay man escaped to London from his father and his father's lifestyle....

     (1885–1938)
  • Bessie Bellwood (1856–1896)
  • Herbert Campbell (1844–1904)
  • Kate Carney
    Kate Carney
    Kate Carney was an English singer and comedienne who played the music halls in London.Catherine M. -Kate- was born in Southwark, London in 1869 . She first appeared as Kate Carney at the Albert Music Hall in Canning Town, singing Irish songs. She was, however, more famous for her Cockney songs,...

     (1869–1950)
  • Harry Champion
    Harry Champion
    William Crump , better known by the stage name Harry Champion, was an English music hall composer, singer and Cockney comedian, whose onstage persona appealed chiefly to the working class communities of East London...

     (1866–1942)
  • Charlie Chaplin
    Charlie Chaplin
    Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I...

     (1889–1977) - more famous as a silent film star
  • Sydney Chaplin
    Sydney Chaplin
    Sydney Chaplin was an English actor. He was the elder half-brother of Sir Charlie Chaplin and served as his business manager, and the half-uncle of the actor Sydney Chaplin , who was named after him.-Early life:...

     (1885–1965)
  • Albert Chevalier
    Albert Chevalier
    Albert Onesime Britannicus Gwathveoyd Louis Chevalier was an English comedian and actor.-Early life:Albert Chevalier was born in the Royal Crescent, in London's Notting Hill...

     (1861–1923)
  • George H. Chirgwin
    George H. Chirgwin
    George H. Chirgwin was a British music hall star billed as "the White-Eyed Kaffir", a black face minstrel act.Chirgwin appeared in the first Royal Variety Command Performance...

     (1854–1922)
  • Charles Coborn
    Charles Coborn
    Charles Coborn was a British music hall singer and comedian born in Stepney, east London.He was born Charles Whitton McCallum, and adopted his stage name from Coborn Road, near Mile End...

     (1852–1945)
  • Daisy Dormer
    Daisy Dormer
    Daisy Dormer , born Kezia Beatrice Stockwell, was an English music hall singer born in Portsmouth. A pretty, waif-like presence, she was famous for singing "After the Ball is Over" among other songs. In 1935, she had a character part in the film City of Beautiful Nonsense....

     (1883–1947)
  • Leo Dryden
    Leo Dryden
    George Dryden Wheeler , was an English music hall 'vocal comic'. In 1892, he met Hannah Chaplin , mother of Charlie, and also a music hall performer. They had an affair, and a son, George Dryden Wheeler , leading to the breakdown of her marriage to Charles Chaplin, Sr...

     (1864–1939)
  • T E Dunville (1867–1924)
  • Gus Elen
    Gus Elen
    Ernest Augustus Elen was an English music hall singer and comedian. He achieved success from 1891, performing cockney songs including Arf a Pint of Ale, It's a Great Big Shame, Down the Road and If It Wasn't for the 'Ouses in Between in a career lasting over thirty years.Born in Pimlico, London,...

     (1862–1940)
  • G H Elliott (1882–1962)
  • Florrie Forde
    Florrie Forde
    Florrie Forde , born Flora May Augusta Flannagan, was an Australian popular singer and entertainer. She was one of the greatest stars of the early 20th century music hall....

     (1875–1940)
  • George Formby Senior (1876–1921)
  • Harry Fragson
    Harry Fragson
    Harry Fragson was a British music hall singer and comedian, born in Soho, London. While living in Paris, he developed an act involving impressions of French music hall performers, which gradually became popular, allowing him to introduce his own material. He came back to London in 1905 and became...

     (1869–1913)
  • Will Fyffe
    Will Fyffe
    Will Fyffe was a major star of the 1930s and 1940s, a star of stage, screen and shellac.Fyffe made his debut in his father's stock company at the age of six...

     (1885–1947)
  • Will Hay
    Will Hay
    William Thomson "Will" Hay was an English comedian, actor, film director and amateur astronomer.-Early life:He was born in Stockton-on-Tees, in north east England, to William R...

     (1888–1949)
  • Will Hammer
    William Hinds
    William "Will" Hinds , stage name Will Hammer, was one of the founders of Hammer Film Productions.-Jeweller:Hinds was a jeweller from London who, with his brother Frank, owned and ran Hinds Jewellers...

     (1887–1957) - more famous as the founder of Hammer Films
    Hammer Film Productions
    Hammer Film Productions is a film production company based in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1934, the company is best known for a series of Gothic "Hammer Horror" films made from the mid-1950s until the 1970s. Hammer also produced science fiction, thrillers, film noir and comedies and in later...

  • Jenny Hill (1850–1896)
  • Stanley Holloway
    Stanley Holloway
    Stanley Augustus Holloway, OBE was an English stage and film actor, comedian, singer, poet and monologist. He was famous for his comic and character roles on stage and screen, especially that of Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady...

     (1890–1982) - more famous as an English film actor.
  • Fred Karno
    Fred Karno
    Frederick John Westcott , best known by his stage name Fred Karno, was a theatre impresario of the British music hall. Karno is credited with inventing the custard-pie-in-the-face gag. Among the young comedians who worked for him were Charlie Chaplin and Arthur Jefferson, who later adopted the...

     (1866–1941)
  • Marie Kendall
    Marie Kendall
    Marie Kendall ; 1873–1964) was a British music hall comedienne and actress who had a successful career spanning 50 years.-Biography:Marie Kendall was born Mary Ann Florence Holyome on 27th July 1873 in Bethnal Green, London....

     (1873–1964)
  • Hetty King
    Hetty King
    Winifred Emms , best known by her stage name Hetty King, was an English entertainer who played in the music halls over a period of 70 years.-Birth:...

     (1883–1972)
  • Harry Lauder
    Harry Lauder
    Sir Henry Lauder , known professionally as Harry Lauder, was an international Scottish entertainer, described by Sir Winston Churchill as "Scotland's greatest ever ambassador!"-Early life:...

     (1870–1950)
  • Stan Laurel
    Stan Laurel
    Arthur Stanley "Stan" Jefferson , better known as Stan Laurel, was an English comic actor, writer and film director, famous as the first half of the comedy team Laurel and Hardy. His film acting career stretched between 1917 and 1951 and included a starring role in the Academy Award winning film...

     (1890–1965) - more famous as a Hollywood star
  • Katie Lawrence
    Katie Lawrence
    Katie Lawrence was an English music-hall singer, best known for Harry Dacre's 1890s hit "Daisy Bell."-Appearances in other media:...

     d. 1913
  • Dan Leno
    Dan Leno
    Dan Leno , born George Wild Galvin, was an English comedian and actor, famous for appearing in music hall and dozens of comic plays, pantomimes, Victorian burlesques and musical comedies during the Victorian era...

     (1860–1904)

  • Jules Léotard
    Jules Léotard
    Jules Léotard , was a revolutionary French acrobatic performer who developed the art of trapeze. He also popularised the one-piece gymwear that now bears his name and was the inspiration for the 1867 song "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze"....

     (1839–1870)
  • George Leybourne
    George Leybourne
    Joe Sanders , better known as George Leybourne, was an English music hall performer. Often nicknamed "Champagne Charlie", Leybourne is best-remembered as the lyricist for The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze....

     (1842–1884)
  • Cecilia Loftus
    Cecilia Loftus
    Cecilia "Cissie" or "Cissy" Loftus was a Scottish actress, singer, mimic, vaudevillian and music hall performer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.-Family:...

     (1876–1943)
  • Little Tich
    Little Tich
    Harry Relph, , known on the stage as "Little Tich", was an English music hall comedian. He was noted for the characters of The Spanish Señora, The Gendarme and The Tax Collector, but his most popular routine was his Big Boot dance, which involved a pair of 28-inch boots, commonly called "slapshoes"...

     (1867–1928)
  • Arthur Lloyd (1839–1904)
  • Marie Lloyd
    Marie Lloyd
    Matilda Alice Victoria Wood was an English music hall singer, best known as Marie Lloyd. Her ability to add lewdness to the most innocent of lyrics led to frequent clashes with the guardians of morality...

     (1870–1922)
  • Tom Major-Ball
    Tom Major-Ball
    Tom Major-Ball was a music hall performer and circus artiste. He was the father of Sir John Major, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.-Early life:...

     (1879–1962), part of "Drum and Major" and "Drum and Ball" acts, (father of former British Prime Minister John Major
    John Major
    Sir John Major, is a British Conservative politician, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990–1997...

    )
  • G. H. McDermott
  • Denise Orme
    Denise Orme
    Jessie Smither , best known by her stage name Denise Orme, was an English music hall singer, actress and musician who appeared regularly at the Alhambra and Gaiety Theatres in London in the early years of the 20th century.-Early life:The only daughter of Alfred John Smither and Jessicah...

     (1885–1960)
  • Nelly Power
    Nelly Power
    Nelly Power , was an English singer, actress and performer in music hall, burlesque and pantomime. Her funeral attracted three to four thousand spectators at Abney Park Cemetery and a further great crowd at the start of the procession from her home.-Career:Power appeared in the music halls from...

     (1854-1887)
  • Arthur Roberts (1852–1933)
  • George Robey
    George Robey
    Sir George Edward Wade , better known by his stage name, George Robey, was an English music hall comedian and star. He was marketed as the "Prime Minister of Mirth".-Early life:...

     (1869–1954)
  • Truly Shattuck
    Truly Shattuck
    Truly Shattuck was a soubrette star of vaudeville, music halls and Broadway whose career began in tragedy and ended in relative obscurity.-Early Life:...

     (1875-1954)
  • Ella Shields
    Ella Shields
    Ella Shields was a music hall singer and male-impersonator. Her famous signature song, "Burlington Bertie from Bow", written by her manager and first husband, William Hargreaves, was an immediate hit. Though American-born, Ella achieved her greatest success in England.-Biography:Ella Shields was...

     (1879–1952)
  • Mark Sheridan
    Mark Sheridan
    Mark Sheridan born Frederick Shaw was an English music hall comedian and singer. He became a popular singer of lusty seaside songs and was the original performer of the 1909 J.Glover-Kind classic, "I Do Like To be Beside the Seaside"...

     (1864–1918)
  • Eugene Stratton
    Eugene Stratton
    Eugene Augustus Rühlmann was born in Buffalo, New York. He adopted the stage name Eugene Stratton, and became an American-born dancer and singer, whose career was mostly spent in British Music halls.- Biography :...

     (1861–1918)
  • Harry Tate
    Harry Tate
    Harry Tate was an English comedian who performed both in the music halls and in films. Born in 1872 as Ronald Macdonald Hutchinson, he worked for Henry Tate & Sons, Sugar Refiners before going on the stage, and took his stage name from them.-Career:Tate made his debut at the Oxford Music Hall in...

     (1872–1940)
  • Vesta Tilley
    Vesta Tilley
    Matilda Alice Powles , was an English male impersonator. At the age of 11, she adopted the stage name Vesta Tilley becoming the most famous and well paid music hall male impersonator of her day...

     (1864–1952)
  • Marie Tyler
  • Alfred Vance
    Alfred Vance
    Alfred Peek Stevens , best known by his stage name Alfred Vance, was an English singer in the 19th Century music halls.-Early life and family:Vance was born in London in 1839...

     (1839–1888)
  • Vesta Victoria
    Vesta Victoria
    Vesta Victoria was an English music hall singer and comedian. Although born in Leeds, Yorkshire, Vesta adopted a Cockney persona on stage...

     (1873–1951)
  • Vulcana
    Vulcana
    Kate Williams , sometimes called Kate Roberts, better known by her stage name Vulcana, was a Welsh strongwoman born of Irish parents in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire....

     (1875–1946) - main attraction of the Atlas and Vulcana Group of Society Athletes
  • H. Vernon Watson
    H. Vernon Watson
    H. Vernon Watson , better known as his character Nosmo King, was a popular English variety artist. He was touring the music halls before World War I, but he remained relatively obscure until the 1920s, when he shot to fame as Nosmo King....

     (performing under the sobriquet Nosmo King)
  • Daisy Wood
    Daisy Wood
    Daisy Violet Rose Wood , was an English Music hall singer.-Life and career:The fifth of nine children, the oldest being Matilda Alice Victoria Wood , performing under the stage name Marie Lloyd. Seven of the siblings took up stage careers...

     (and the Sisters Lloyd)
  • Billy Williams
    Billy Williams (music hall performer)
    Richard Isaac Banks , who changed his name to Billy Williams after leaving his birthplace of Australia, was one of the most recorded popular entertainers of his and indeed of all time. His recordings sold in their thousands long after his early death in 1915...

     (1878–1915)
  • Wilson, Keppel and Betty
    Wilson, Keppel and Betty
    Wilson, Keppel and Betty were a popular British music hall act in the middle decades of the 20th century who capitalised on the trend for Egyptian imagery following the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Their stage act, called the "sand dance", was a parody of Egyptian postures, combined with...



The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America
The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America
The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America is a registered theatre charity and non-profit making theatre organisation based in London and was founded by Adrian Barry in 1992...

 a London based theatre charity, strives to care for and restore the final resting places of Music Hall artistes.

Cultural influences of music hall: Literature, drama, screen, and later music


The music hall has been evoked in many films, plays, TV series and books.
  • About half of the film Those Were The Days
    Those Were the Days (1934 film)
    Those were the Days is a film primarily remembered as Will Hay's first major film role. It was based on the farce The Magistrate written by playwright Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, and was the first of two Hay movies that were based Pinero's plays, the other being Dandy Dick...

    (1934) is set in a music hall. It was based on a farce by Pinero
    Piñero
    Piñero is a 2001 biopic about the troubled life of Nuyorican poet and playwright Miguel Piñero, starring Benjamin Bratt as the titular character. It was written and directed by the Cuban filmmaker, Leon Ichaso. It premiered at the Montreal Film Festival on 31 August 2001...

     and features the music hall acts of Lily Morris
    Lily Morris
    Lily Morris , born Lilles Mary Crosby, was an English music hall performer, who specialized in comedic singing....

    , Harry Bedford
    Harry Bedford
    Henry "Harry" Bedford was an English professional football player. He scored 326 league goals in 485 games.-Club career:...

    , the gymnasts Gaston & Andre, G.H. Elliott, Sam Curtis and Frank Boston & Betty.
  • A music hall with a 'memory man' act provides a pivotal plot device in the classic 1935 Alfred Hitchcock
    Alfred Hitchcock
    Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE was a British film director and producer. He pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. After a successful career in British cinema in both silent films and early talkies, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood...

     thriller The 39 Steps
    The 39 Steps (1935 film)
    The 39 Steps is a British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on the adventure novel The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan. The film stars Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll....

    .
  • The Arthur Askey comedy film I Thank You
    I Thank You (film)
    I Thank You is a 1941 British comedy filmdirected by Marcel Varnel and starring Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch, Graham Moffatt and Moore Marriott. It was produced by Edward Black at Gainsborough Pictures.- Plot summary :...

    (1941) features old time music hall star Lily Morris as an ex-music hall artiste now ennobled as "Lady Randall". In the last scene of the film, however, she reverts to type and gives a rendition of "Waiting at the Church" at an impromptu concert at Aldwych tube station
    Aldwych tube station
    Aldwych is a closed London Underground station in the City of Westminster, originally opened as Strand in 1907. It was the terminus and only station on the short Piccadilly line branch from Holborn that was a relic of the merger of two railway schemes. The disused station building is close to the...

     organised by Askey and his side-kick Richard "Stinker" Murdoch
    Richard Murdoch
    Richard Bernard Murdoch was a British comedic radio, film and television performer.Richard Bernard Murdoch attended Charterhouse School. He then appeared in Footlights whilst a student at Pembroke College, Cambridge...

    .
  • The Victorian era of music hall was celebrated by the 1944 film Champagne Charlie
    Champagne Charlie (film)
    Champagne Charlie is a 1944 British musical film made by Ealing Studios. It is based on an 1860s play that depicted the real life rivalry between George Leybourne, who first performed the song of that name, and Alfred Vance....

    .
  • Charlie Chaplin's 1952 film Limelight, set in 1914 London, evokes the music hall world of Chaplin's youth where he performed as comedian before he achieved worldwide celebrity as a film star in America. The film depicts the last performance of a washed-up music hall clown called Calvero at The Empire theatre, Leicester Square. The film premiered at the Empire Cinema, which was built on the same site as the Empire theatre.
  • The Good Old Days
    The Good Old Days
    The Good Old Days is a popular BBC television light entertainment programme which ran from 1953 to 1983.It was performed at the Leeds City Varieties and recreated an authentic atmosphere of the Victorian–Edwardian music hall with songs and sketches of the era performed by present-day...

    (1953 to 1983) was a popular BBC television light entertainment programme recorded live at the Leeds City Varieties
    Leeds City Varieties
    The Leeds City Varieties is a Grade II* listed music hall in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.It was built in 1865 as an adjunct to the White Swan Inn in Swan Street and the original interior is largely unaltered. Along with Hoxton Hall and Wilton's Music Hall , it is a rare surviving example of the...

     which recreated an authentic atmosphere of the Victorian–Edwardian music hall with songs and sketches of the era performed by present-day performers in the style of the original artistes. The audience dressed in period costume and joined in the singing, especially the singing of Down at the Old Bull and Bush which closed the show. The show was compered by Leonard Sachs
    Leonard Sachs
    Leonard Sachs was a British actor.-Early life and career:Sachs was born in South Africa in the town of Roodepoort, Transvaal...

     who introduced the acts. In the course of its run it featured about 2000 artists. The show was first broadcast on 20 July 1953. The Good Old Days was inspired by the success of the Ridgeway's Late Joys at the Players' Theatre Club in London: a private members' club that ran fortnightly programmes of variety acts in London's West End.
  • John Osborne
    John Osborne
    John James Osborne was an English playwright, screenwriter, actor and critic of the Establishment. The success of his 1956 play Look Back in Anger transformed English theatre....

    's play The Entertainer
    The Entertainer (play)
    The Entertainer is a three act play by John Osborne, first produced in 1957. His first play, Look Back in Anger, had attracted mixed notices but a great deal of publicity. Having depicted an "angry young man" in the earlier play, Osborne wrote, at Laurence Olivier's request,about an angry middle...

    (1957) portrays the life and work of a failing third-rate music hall stage performer who tries to keep his career going even as his personal life falls apart. The story is set at the time of the Suez Crisis in 1956, against the backdrop of the dying music hall tradition, and has been seen as symbolic of Britain's general post-war decline, its loss of its Empire, its power, and its cultural confidence and identity. It was made into a film in 1960 starring Laurence Olivier
    Laurence Olivier
    Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

     in the title role of Archie Rice.
  • In Grip of the Strangler (1958), set in Victorian London, the raunchy can-can dancers and loose women of the sleazy "Judas Hole" music hall are terrorised by the Haymarket Strangler, played by Boris Karloff
    Boris Karloff
    William Henry Pratt , better known by his stage name Boris Karloff, was an English actor.Karloff is best remembered for his roles in horror films and his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein , Bride of Frankenstein , and Son of Frankenstein...

    .
  • J. B. Priestley
    J. B. Priestley
    John Boynton Priestley, OM , known as J. B. Priestley, was an English novelist, playwright and broadcaster. He published 26 novels, notably The Good Companions , as well as numerous dramas such as An Inspector Calls...

    's 1965 novel Lost Empires
    Lost Empires
    Lost Empires is a 1986 television adaptation of J. B. Priestley's novel of the same name, and starred Colin Firth, John Castle and Laurence Olivier. It was shown as a miniseries, and premiered on UK TV in October 1986.-Plot:...

    also evokes the world of Edwardian music hall just before the start of World War I; the title is a reference to the Empire theatres
    Moss Empires
    Moss Empires was a British company formed in Edinburgh from the merger of the theatre companies owned by Sir Edward Moss and Sir Oswald Stoll in 1898. This created the largest British chain of music halls...

     (as well as foreshadowing the decline of the British Empire itself). It was recently adapted as a television miniseries, shown in both the UK and in the U.S. as a PBS presentation. Priestley's 1929 novel The Good Companions
    The Good Companions
    The Good Companions is a novel by the English author J. B. Priestley.Written in 1929 , it focuses on the trials and tribulations of a concert party in England between World War I and World War II. It is arguably Priestley's most famous novel, and the work which established him as a national figure...

    , set in the same period, follows the lives of the members of a "concert party
    Concert Party (entertainment)
    A concert party, also called a Pierrot troupe, is the collective name for a group of entertainers, or Pierrots, popular in Britain during the first half of the 20th century. The variety show given by a Pierrot troupe was called a Pierrot show...

    " or touring Pierrot troupe.
  • The parodic film Oh! What a Lovely War
    Oh! What a Lovely War
    Oh! What a Lovely War is a musical film based on the stage musical Oh, What a Lovely War! originated by Charles Chilton as a radio play, The Long Long Trail in December 1961, and transferred to stage by Gerry Raffles in partnership with Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop created in 1963,...

    (1969), based on the stage musical Oh, What a Lovely War!
    Oh, What a Lovely War!
    Oh, What a Lovely War! is an epic musical originated by Charles Chilton as a radio play, The Long Long Trail in December 1961, and transferred to stage by Gerry Raffles in partnership with Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop in 1963...

    (1963) by Joan Littlewood
    Joan Littlewood
    Joan Maud Littlewood was a British theatre director, noted for her work in developing the left-wing Theatre Workshop...

    's Theatre Workshop
    Theatre Workshop
    Theatre Workshop is a theatre group noted for their director, Joan Littlewood. Many actors of the 1950s and 1960s received their training and first exposure with the company...

    , featured the music hall turns and songs that had provided support for the British war effort in World War I.
  • The popular British television series Upstairs, Downstairs
    Upstairs, Downstairs
    Upstairs, Downstairs is a British drama television series originally produced by London Weekend Television and revived by the BBC. It ran on ITV in 68 episodes divided into five series from 1971 to 1975, and a sixth series shown on the BBC on three consecutive nights, 26–28 December 2010.Set in a...

    (1971–1975) and its spin-off Thomas & Sarah
    Thomas & Sarah
    Thomas & Sarah is a British drama series that aired on ITV in 1979. The only spin-off from the BAFTA Award-winning series Upstairs, Downstairs, it stars John Alderton and Pauline Collins reprising their Upstairs, Downstairs roles.-Background:...

    (1979) each dealt frequently with the world of the Edwardian music hall, sometimes through references to actual Edwardian era performers such as Vesta Tilley
    Vesta Tilley
    Matilda Alice Powles , was an English male impersonator. At the age of 11, she adopted the stage name Vesta Tilley becoming the most famous and well paid music hall male impersonator of her day...

     or to characters on the show attending performances, and other times through the experiences of the popular character Sarah Moffat
    Sarah Moffat
    Sarah Moffat , also known as Sarah Delice and Clémence Dumas, is a fictional character in the ITV drama Upstairs, Downstairs and its spin-off Thomas & Sarah...

    , who left domestic service several times and often ended up going on stage to support herself when she did.
  • Between 1978 and 1984 BBC television
    BBC Television
    BBC Television is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The corporation, which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927, has produced television programmes from its own studios since 1932, although the start of its regular service of television...

     broadcast two series of programmes called The Old Boy Network. These featured a star (usually a Music Hall performer, but also some younger turns like Eric Sykes
    Eric Sykes
    Eric Sykes, CBE is an English radio, television and film writer, actor and director whose performing career has spanned more than 50 years. He frequently wrote for and/or performed with many other leading comedy performers and writers of the period, including Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan, Peter...

    ) performing some of their best known routines while giving a slide show of their life story. Artistes featured included Arthur Askey
    Arthur Askey
    Arthur Bowden Askey CBE was a prominent English comedian.- Life and career :Askey was born at 29 Moses Street, Liverpool, the eldest child and only son of Samuel Askey , secretary of the firm Sugar Products of Liverpool, and his wife, Betsy Bowden , of Knutsford, Cheshire...

    , Tommy Trinder
    Tommy Trinder
    Thomas Edward Trinder CBE known as Tommy Trinder, was an English stage, screen and radio comedian of the pre and post war years whose catchphrase was 'You lucky people'.-Life:...

    , Sandy Powell
    Sandy Powell (comedian)
    Sandy Powell MBE was an English comedian best known for his radio work of the 1930s and for his catchphrase Can You Hear Me, Mother?-Life and career:...

    , and Chesney Allen
    Chesney Allen
    Chesney Allen was a popular English entertainer of the Second World War period. He is best remembered as part of the double act with Bud Flanagan, Flanagan and Allen.-Life and career:...

    .
  • The modern Players' Theatre Club provides a brief impression of contemporary music hall in the film The Fourth Angel, where Jeremy Irons
    Jeremy Irons
    Jeremy John Irons is an English actor. After receiving classical training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Irons began his acting career on stage in 1969, and has since appeared in many London theatre productions including The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the...

    ' character creates an alibi by visiting a show.
  • Sarah Waters
    Sarah Waters
    Sarah Waters is a British novelist. She is best known for her novels set in Victorian society, such as Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith.-Childhood:Sarah Waters was born in Neyland, Pembrokeshire, Wales in 1966....

    's book Tipping the Velvet
    Tipping the Velvet
    Tipping the Velvet is an historical novel written by Sarah Waters published in 1998. Set in Victorian England during the 1890s, it tells a coming of age story about a young woman named Nan who falls in love with a male impersonator, follows her to London, and finds various ways to support herself...

    (1998) revolves around the world of music halls in the late Victorian era, and in particular around two fictional "mashers" (drag kings) named Kitty Butler and Nan King.
  • Music hall had a profound influence on The Beatles
    The Beatles
    The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

     through Paul McCartney
    Paul McCartney
    Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE, Hon RAM, FRCM is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. Formerly of The Beatles and Wings , McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100...

    , who is himself the son of a music hall performer (Jim McCartney, who led Jim Mac's Jazz Band). Many of McCartney's songs are indistinguishable from music hall except in their instrumentation. When I'm Sixty-Four
    When I'm Sixty-Four
    "When I'm Sixty-Four" is a song by The Beatles, written by Paul McCartney and released in 1967 on their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.-Composition:...

    and Honey Pie
    Honey Pie
    "Honey Pie" is a song by the Beatles, from their 1968 eponymous album The Beatles, also known as The White Album. Although credited to Lennon–McCartney, it was composed solely by Paul McCartney.-Interpretation:...

    are two fine examples, as are Your Mother Should Know and Maxwell's Silver Hammer
    Maxwell's Silver Hammer
    "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is a song by The Beatles, on their album, Abbey Road, sung by Paul McCartney. It was written by McCartney, though credited to Lennon–McCartney.-Background:...

    .
  • Herman's Hermits
    Herman's Hermits
    Herman's Hermits are an English beat band, formed in Manchester in 1963 as Herman & The Hermits. The group's record producer, Mickie Most , emphasized a simple, non-threatening, clean-cut image, although the band originally played R&B numbers...

    , led by Peter Noone
    Peter Noone
    Peter Noone is an English singer-songwriter, guitarist, pianist and actor, best known as "Herman" of the successful 1960s rock group Herman's Hermits.-Early life:...

    , also incorporated music hall into their repertoire, scoring a major hit with their cover of the Harry Champion
    Harry Champion
    William Crump , better known by the stage name Harry Champion, was an English music hall composer, singer and Cockney comedian, whose onstage persona appealed chiefly to the working class communities of East London...

     music hall standard I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am
    I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am
    "I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am" is a 1910 British music hall song by Fred Murray and R. P. Weston...

    in 1965 (but Noone's version included only the chorus, not the many verses of the original).
  • In James Joyce
    James Joyce
    James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

    's short story The Boarding House
    The Boarding House
    "The Boarding House" is a short story by James Joyce published in his 1914 collection Dubliners.-The story:Mrs. Mooney, separated from her husband, a butcher who descended into alcoholism, runs a boarding house for working men. Her daughter Polly entertains the boarders by singing and flirting...

    , Mrs. Mooney's boarding-house in Hardwicke Street accommodates "occasionally (...) artistes from the music halls". The Sunday night "reunions" with Jack Mooney in the drawing-room create a certain atmosphere.
  • In Vivian Stanshall
    Vivian Stanshall
    Vivian Stanshall was an English singer-songwriter, painter, musician, author, poet and wit, best known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, for his surreal exploration of the British upper classes in Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, and for narrating Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells.-The great...

     and Ki Longfellow-Stanshall's
    Ki Longfellow
    Ki Longfellow is an American novelist, playwright, theatrical producer, theater director and entrepreneur. In Britain, as the widow of Vivian Stanshall, she is well known as the guardian of his artistic heritage, but elsewhere she is best known for her own work, especially the novel The Secret...

     musical, Stinkfoot, a Comic Opera
    Stinkfoot, a Comic Opera
    Stinkfoot, a Comic Opera is an English musical with book, music, and lyrics by Vivian Stanshall and Ki Longfellow-Stanshall written for the Crackpot Theatre Company aboard the Old Profanity Showboat in Bristol, England. The show is based on a series of tales written by Longfellow about Stinkfoot,...

    , the lead performer is an ageing music hall artiste named Soliquisto.
  • Legendary soul singer Michael Jackson
    Michael Jackson
    Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records...

     openly admitted his admiration for music hall performers such as Charlie Chaplin
    Charlie Chaplin
    Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I...

    .
  • British rockers Queen
    Queen (band)
    Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1971, originally consisting of Freddie Mercury , Brian May , John Deacon , and Roger Taylor...

     incorporated music hall styles into many of their songs, most notably 1974's Killer Queen.
  • Garry Bushell
    Garry Bushell
    Garry Bushell is an English newspaper columnist, rock music journalist, television presenter, author and political activist. Bushell also sings in the Oi! band The Gonads and manages the New York City Oi! band Maninblack. Bushell's recurring themes are comedy, country and class...

    's punk pathetique band, The Gonads, did rock versions of music hall songs. Many punk pathetique
    Punk Pathetique
    Punk pathetique is a subgenre of British punk rock that involved humour and working class cultural themes....

     acts were indebted to the music hall tradition.
  • The Theatre of the absurd
    Theatre of the Absurd
    The Theatre of the Absurd is a designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction, written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theatre which has evolved from their work...

     was heavily influenced by music hall in its use of comedy, as well as avant-garde cultural forms (such as surrealism
    Surrealism
    Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

    ) being a more obvious influence.
  • The spirit of the music hall lives on in the form of pensioner rapper, Ida Barr who mashes up music hall and rap. Based on a real artiste, the act is performed by Christopher Green
    Chris Green (writer/performer)
    Christopher Green is a writer and performer whose work covers comedy, cabaret, theatre and live art. Green was born in Matlock, Derbyshire, grew up in Darley Dale and lives and works in London, England.-Background:...

    .

Surviving music halls



London was the centre of Music Hall with hundreds of venues, often in the entertainment rooms of public houses. With the decline in popularity of Music Hall, many were abandoned, or converted to other uses, such as cinemas and their interiors lost. There are a number of purpose built survivors, including the Hackney Empire
Hackney Empire
The Hackney Empire is a theatre on Mare Street, in the London Borough of Hackney, built in 1901 as a music hall.-History:Hackney Empire is a grade II* listed building...

, an outstanding example of the late Music Hall period (Frank Matcham
Frank Matcham
Frank Matcham was a famous English theatrical architect. He is buried in Highgate Cemetery.-Early career:...

 1901). This has been restored to its moorish splendour and now provides an eclectic programme of events from opera to "Black Variety Nights". A mile to the south is Hoxton Hall
Hoxton Hall
Hoxton Hall is a community centre and performance space in Hoxton, at 130 Hoxton Street, in the London Borough of Hackney.A grade II* listed building, the theatre was first built as a Music hall in 1863, as MacDonald's Music hall. It is an unrestored example of the saloon-style...

 an 1863 example of the saloon-style. It is unrestored but maintained in its original layout, and currently used as a community centre and theatre. In the neighbouring borough, Collins Music Hall (built about 1860) still stands on the North side of Islington
Islington
Islington is a neighbourhood in Greater London, England and forms the central district of the London Borough of Islington. It is a district of Inner London, spanning from Islington High Street to Highbury Fields, encompassing the area around the busy Upper Street...

 Green. The hall closed in the 1960s and currently forms part of a bookshop.

In Clapham
Clapham
Clapham is a district in south London, England, within the London Borough of Lambeth.Clapham covers the postcodes of SW4 and parts of SW9, SW8 and SW12. Clapham Common is shared with the London Borough of Wandsworth, although Lambeth has responsibility for running the common as a whole. According...

, The Grand, originally the 1900 'Grand Palace of Varieties', has been restored, but its interior reflects its modern use as a music venue and nightclub. The Greenwich Theatre
Greenwich Theatre
The Greenwich Theatre is a local theatre located in Croom's Hill close to the centre of Greenwich in south-east London.-Building history:The building was originally a music hall created in 1855 as part of the neighbouring Rose and Crown public house, but the Rose and Crown Music Hall was...

 was originally the 'Rose and Crown Music Hall' (1855), and later became 'Crowder's Music Hall and Temple of Varieties'. The building has been extensively modernised and little of the original layout remains.

In the nondescript Grace's Alley, off Cable Street, Stepney
Stepney
Stepney is a district of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in London's East End that grew out of a medieval village around St Dunstan's church and the 15th century ribbon development of Mile End Road...

 stands Wilton's Music Hall
Wilton's Music Hall
Wilton's Music Hall is a grade II* listed building, built as a music hall and now a more general-purpose performance space in Grace's Alley, off Cable Street in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets...

. This 1858 example of the giant pub hall survived use as a church, fire, flood and war intact, but was virtually derelict, after its use as a rag warehouse, in the 1960s. The Wilton's Music Hall Trust has embarked on a fund-raising campaign to restore the building. In June 2007 the World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund is a private, international, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic architecture and cultural heritage sites around the world through fieldwork, advocacy, grantmaking, education, and training....

 added the building to its list of the world's "100 most endangered sites". The music video of the Frankie goes to Hollywood
Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Frankie Goes to Hollywood were a British dance-pop band popular in the mid-1980s. The group was fronted by Holly Johnson , with Paul Rutherford , Peter Gill , Mark O'Toole , and Brian Nash .The group's debut single "Relax" was banned by the BBC in 1984 while at number six in the charts and...

 single Relax
Relax (song)
"Relax" is the debut single by British dance group Frankie Goes to Hollywood, released in the UK by ZTT Records in 1983. The song was later included on the album Welcome to the Pleasuredome ....

 was shot here.

Many of these buildings can be seen as part of the annual London Open House event.

There are also surviving music halls outside London, a notable example being the Leeds City Varieties
Leeds City Varieties
The Leeds City Varieties is a Grade II* listed music hall in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.It was built in 1865 as an adjunct to the White Swan Inn in Swan Street and the original interior is largely unaltered. Along with Hoxton Hall and Wilton's Music Hall , it is a rare surviving example of the...

 (1865) with a preserved interior. This was used for many years as the setting for the BBC television variety show, based on the music hall genre, The Good Old Days
The Good Old Days
The Good Old Days is a popular BBC television light entertainment programme which ran from 1953 to 1983.It was performed at the Leeds City Varieties and recreated an authentic atmosphere of the Victorian–Edwardian music hall with songs and sketches of the era performed by present-day...

. The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Bradford Alhambra
The Bradford Alhambra is a theatre in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. It was built in 1913 at a cost of £20,000 for theatre impresario Francis Laidler, and opened on Wednesday 18 March 1914. In 1964 Bradford City Council bought the Alhambra for £78,900. In 1974 it was designated a Grade II...

 was built in 1914 for theatre impresario Frank Laidler, and later owned by the Stoll
Oswald Stoll
Sir Oswald Stoll was an Australian-born British theatre manager and the co-founder of the Stoll Moss Group theatre company...

-Moss
Edward Moss
Sir Horace Edward Commitment Moss was a British theatre impresario and the founder chairman of the Moss Empires Ltd theatre combine which he created in the 1890s after first joining forces with Richard Thornton of Newcastle and later with Oswald Stoll then operating in Wales...

 Empire'. It was restored in 1986, and is a fine example of the late Edwardian style. It is now a receiving theatre for touring productions, and opera.

In Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, the Grand Opera House (Belfast)
Grand Opera House (Belfast)
The Grand Opera House is a theatre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, designed by the most prolific theatre architect of the period, Frank Matcham. It opened on 23 December 1895....

. Frank Matcham 1895, was preserved and restored in the 1980s. The Gaiety Theatre
Gaiety Theatre, Isle of Man
The Gaiety Theatre is a theatre, on the Isle of Man. The theatre was built in 1899 to the designs of architect Frank Matcham, as an opera house and theatre. It was built on the site of the former Pavilion, an entertainment hall that had been constructed six years earlier.The theatre opened on 16...

, Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

 is another Matcham design from 1900 that remains in use after an extensive restoration programme in the 1970s. In Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

, the Britannia Music Hall
Britannia Music Hall
The Britannia Music Hall in Trongate, Glasgow, Scotland is the oldest surviving music hall in the world. Built in 1857 by Thomas Gildard and H. M. McFarlane , it has hosted some of the biggest names on the Music hall circuit. In 1906 Stan Laurel made his first stage appearance there on amateur...

 (1857), by architects Thomas Gildard and H.M. McFarlane remains standing, with much of the theatre intact but in a poor state having closed in 1938. There is a preservation trust attempting to rescue the theatre.

One of the few fully functional music hall entertainments, is at the Brick Lane Music Hall in a former church in North Woolwich
North Woolwich
North Woolwich is a place in the London Borough of Newham. It is located north of Woolwich proper which is on the south bank of the River Thames. The two places are linked by the Woolwich Ferry and the Woolwich foot tunnel.-History:...

. The Players' Theatre Club is another group performing a Victorian style Music Hall show at a variety of venues and The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America
The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America
The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America is a registered theatre charity and non-profit making theatre organisation based in London and was founded by Adrian Barry in 1992...

 stage music hall-style entertainments.

See also


The term "Music hall" is also used to describe some large musical venues, such as the Paris Olympia
Paris Olympia
The Olympia is a music hall in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. Located at No. 28, Boulevard des Capucines, its closest métro/RER stations are Madeleine, Opéra, Havre – Caumartin and Auber....

, Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall is an entertainment venue located in New York City's Rockefeller Center. Its nickname is the Showplace of the Nation, and it was for a time the leading tourist destination in the city...

, and Music Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio. Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located to north of the Ohio River at the Ohio-Kentucky border, near Indiana. The population within city limits is 296,943 according to the 2010 census, making it Ohio's...

 (see Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
As the fifth oldest orchestra in the United States, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has a legacy of fine music making as reflected in its performances in historic Music Hall, recordings, and international tours...

).
  • Concert Party (entertainment)
    Concert Party (entertainment)
    A concert party, also called a Pierrot troupe, is the collective name for a group of entertainers, or Pierrots, popular in Britain during the first half of the 20th century. The variety show given by a Pierrot troupe was called a Pierrot show...

  • Music Hall, Shrewsbury
    Music Hall, Shrewsbury
    The Music Hall in Shrewsbury, England, is a large Victorian building owned by Shropshire Council and currently houses the town's theatre and central Visitor Information Centre, as well as a cafe and some council offices....


Further reading

  • Alexander, John, Tearing Tickets Twice Nightly:The Last Days of Variety (Arcady Press, 2002)
  • Bailey, Peter, ed., Music Hall: The Business of Pleasure, (Milton Keynes, Open University Press, 1986)
  • Bergen, Edgar, How To Become a Ventriloquist, (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2000)
  • Bratton, J.S., ed., Music Hall: Performance & Style (Milton Keynes, Open University Press, 1986)
  • Bruce, Frank, More Variety Days: Fairs, Fit-ups, Music hall, Variety Theatre, Clubs, Cruises and Cabaret (Edinburgh, Tod Press, 2000)
  • Busby, Roy, British Music Hall: An Illustrated Who's Who from 1850 to the Present Day (London: Paul Elek, 1976)
  • Cheshire, D.F., Music Hall in Britain, (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1974)
  • Connor, Steven, Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism (Oxford University Press, 2000)
  • Earl, John, British Theatres and Music Halls (Princes Risborough, Shire, 2005)
  • Earl, John and Stanton, John, The Canterbury Hall and Theatre of Varieties (Cambridge, Chadwyck-Healy 1982)
  • Earl, John and Sell, Michael (eds.) The Theatres Trust Guide to British Theatres, 1750-1950 (A & C Black Publishers Ltd, 2000)
  • Garrett, John M., Sixty Years of British Music Hall, (London, Chappell & Company in association with Andre Deutsch, 1976)
  • Green, Benny, ed., The Last Empires: A Music Hall Companion (London, Pavilion Books Ltd. in association with Michael Joseph Ltd., 1986)
  • Honri, Peter John Wilton's Music Hall, The Handsomest Room in Town (1985)
  • Howard, Diana London Theatres and Music Halls 1850-1950 (1970)
  • Hudd, Roy, Music Hall (London, Eyre Methuen, 1976)
  • Maloney, Paul, Scotland and the Music Hall, 1850-1914 (Manchester University Press, 2003)
  • Mander, Raymond, and Mitchenson, Joe, British Music Hall (London, Gentry Books, 1974)
  • Mellor, G.J., The Northern Music Hall (Newcastle Upon Tyne, Frank Graham, 1970)
  • Mellor, G.J., They Made us Laugh: A Compendium Of Comedians Whose Memories Remain Alive (Littleborough, George Kelsall, 1982)
  • O'Gorman, Brian, Laughter in the Roar: Reminiscences of Variety and Pantomime (Weybridge, B. O'Gorman, 1998)
  • Scott, Harold, The Early Doors: origins of the music hall (London, Nicholson & Watson 1946)
  • Stuart, C D and Park, A J, The Variety Stage (London, Unwin 1895)
  • Wilmut, Roger, Kindly Leave The Stage - The story of Variety 1919-1960 (London, Methuen 1985)

External links