Arthur Butterworth, composer, trumpeter and student of the Royal Manchester College of Music, remembers the Hallé Orchestra children's concerts in the 1930s.
Arthur: And very soon after that, I’d already started going to Halle schoolchildren’s concerts, which in the 1930s were very very pucker affairs, unlike what they’ve since become. Whereas nowadays children’s concerts by all professional orchestras tend to be somewhat playing down to the children. In those days they weren’t; not at all. In fact, the Manchester Corporation’s schoolchildren’s concerts in the 30s were evening affairs in the then Free Trade Hall, where the orchestra was in full [thick?] white tie and tails, and did a full concert of, a proper-a proper concert maybe a Beethoven overture, maybe a Brahms symphony, Chopin Piano Concerto, Elgar Violin Concerto - so this was really, no easy-going watered down thing for children. Not only that, we had to pay to go to these concerts, whereas nowadays children are generally bused in from their local schools free of charge and more or less led to the concert whether they like it or not. No, in those days you either went to the concert because you wanted to go or you didn’t. But surprisingly enough as it might now seem, though the Free Trade Hall was absolutely packed with boys and girls from Manchester schools, and they’d all payed sixpence to get in, which is what, 2 and a half p in present day money. And you made your own way there on the bus or the tram car, and Manchester was then so safe for children to go about in the evening, there was no violence, you could quite happily get on a tram or a bus and know that you would get there safely, you wouldn’t be molested, there was no such thing as the violence that has come about in this last two or three decade; none at all. So I used to go to concerts by myself. And there began my real interest in what you might call serious music.