The story of Edinburgh’s first ever Musical Festival

Scotland, 1815. Where musical tastes could be described as parochial

“Perhaps there is no country in the world where the prejudice in favour of national music is carried to so great a height as in Scotland.”  George Farquhar Graham

Not that’s there’s anything wrong with good old Scottish songs of course, but with our English neighbours responding well to a series of music festivals, many felt that Scotland was missing out when it came to ‘foreign’ and ‘modern’ music.

And so a plan was hatched for an Edinburgh Musical Festival which would include performances of works by Handel, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven (who was, of course, very much alive at the time).

Seven performances were scheduled, and arrangements were made to transport the Grand Organ from Covent Garden to Edinburgh by sea.

So how did it go? Was the festival an artistic, critical and financial success?

Well, there are two ways to find out. One is to Visit the Music Library and ask to read George Farquhar Graham’s extensive report of the festival and the public reaction to it.


The other is to come to our special bicentennial event at 2.30pm on Friday 30th October, when Dr Karen McAuley, Music and Academic Services Librarian at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, will discuss

An Entertainment Altogether New: Edinburgh’s First Musical Festival

This event is free but ticketed, to avoid disappointment book your place now.


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