End of navigation bar

A SHORT HISTORY OF MUSIC IN PEEBLES

In the immediate post-war years, musical evenings were held in Peebles in the homes of those interested in performing classical music. Some friends, who did not perform, then suggested that they would like to share in the enjoyment of listening, and so Peebles Music Club was formed in April 1947.

One of the founders of the club, and its first President, Mrs Peggy Weatherspoon, wrote to the Countess of Dysart, then resident in Stobo Castle, about the possible use of her piano. The Countess generously gifted her piano, which was placed in the Picture Gallery of the Chambers Institute. Subsequently, the concerts were transferred to the Old Parish Church Centre (now the MacFarlane Hall), and then in 2004 to the Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre following its opening earlier that year.

The club, in its early days, was a somewhat exclusive body. Membership was restricted to 22 performing members and 30 non-performing associates. The right to admit members was vested in the committee. The emphasis was on performance by the members, rather than on music appreciation.

As the years progressed, however, the club began to book professional musicians. It then became imperative to seek financial help from the Scottish Arts Council (SAC), but the SAC would only provide grants to clubs that were open to the public. Consequently, in 1981, the new club, Music in Peebles, was formed and registered as a charity with a new constitution. In 1988, the club had the opportunity to purchase a Steinway Grand piano from Dr Jacobsen of Edinburgh. With the help of a grant from the SAC and sale of the club's Bechstein piano to Moffat Music Club, the piano was purchased for £3500. The club has continued to receive financial support each year from the SAC (now Creative Scotland) through the agency Enterprise Music Scotland, which supports over 50 similar clubs throughout Scotland. Regular small grants have also been generously given by Borders Regional Council.

Over the years the club has brought to Peebles some of the finest chamber music soloists and groups in Britain, Europe and beyond. These have included several winners of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition, the Schubert Ensemble (for the 50th anniversary and subsequently) the Scottish Ensemble (for the 60th anniversary) and leading quartets from St Petersburg and Prague. The series of about 6 winter concerts has become an essential part of the musical life of Peebles.

Among those who have made important contributions to the work of the club are Mr Phillip Hutton (senior), Dr Alistair Paton, Mr William Thomson, Mrs Irene Stark, Mr Ian Curry and Miss Elizabeth Luke.

(Based on notes prepared by the late Mr Ian Curry to mark the 60th anniversary in 2007)

Back to Top