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19a Edith Grove is one of England’s most musically significant, yet least known historic buildings.
Exactly a century ago, the Studio at 19a Edith Grove was central to London’s rich artistic and cultural life. The studio was the focus and meeting place of the international artistic community at a time of pivotal historic significance during the years 1912 – 1915, which mark the birth of modernism in music.
19a is a Victorian Tudor Gothic Garden Pavilion studio in Chelsea, built c.1864, a remarkable survival of the bombing in 1941 of No 19, the house in front to which it had been attached. Between 1912 and 1915 many of the greatest musicians of the age, Artur Rubinstein, Cortot, Ysaye, Casals, Rubio, Suggia, Kochanski, Thibaud, Moiseiwitsch, Sammons and many more, played to an intimate audience which included Chaliapin, Henry James, Nijinsky, John Singer Sargent, and Gertrude Stein. Ruth Draper first performed her famous monologues at 19a. It was here that Casals first met the great viola player Lionel Tertis, and here that Rubinstein introduced Igor Stravinsky to Karol Szymanowski following the London premiere of The Rite of Spring at Drury Lane Theatre.
There can be few places where so many great figures in the arts have come together under one roof. These musical events and meetings of artists, writers and musicians which took place at 19a are well documented in several books. Music at Midnight by Muriel Draper p.74:
“So through the season of 1912-13 it went. No visiting musician left London without being brought to Edith Grove, and it went without saying that those who came to give concerts would come to us afterward,”
Overture and Beginners, Eugene Goossen’s autobiography p.98:
“All my chamber music experience up to this time paled beside the event which transformed the middle of 1912 and the two subsequent years into a sequence of musical thrills. …we all went down some narrow stairs into the largest and most sumptuous studio I had ever seen…its conspicuous features were a large Tudor fireplace surmounted by a Gothic tapestry,…a Bechstein piano, huge floor cushions, heavy candelabras, a dozen music stands and stacks of chamber music,”
and Artur Rubinstein’s autobiography, My Young Years. P. 404, in which he describes 19a as:
“…a magnificent, spacious, square noble music room. On one side of the huge fireplace stood the Bechstein concert grand…The whole gave the impression of the interior of a Florentine Palace. But the most precious aspect of the room was its power to attract great artists to make music.”
“May 1913 passed like a dream. …the nights of music at Edith Grove were inspiring…in the best sense of the word. The company of great musicians dedicated to the purest expression of their art enriched, ennobled, exalted the lives of those present, whether performing or listening” – Ibid., p. 406.
Please join our increasing number of supporters who have signed our petition. Among them are some celebrated names.
Nicholas Lane, 12th November 2012