Coming from the Mill.
A musical evening for L.S. Lowry. A programme of classical music featuring works which were played for L.S. Lowry's 77th birthday celebrations at a Hallé orchestra concert in Manchester, plus a varied selection of gramophone recordings by other composers and musicians that Lowry listened to at home: Beethoven, Mozart, and opera sung by that great diva, Maria Callas. "My subjects were all around methe mills and collieries around Pendlebury. The people who worked there were passing morning and night. All my material was on my doorstep." In November 1964, the Hallé Orchestra celebrated LS Lowry's 77th birthday with a special concert. The artist had created his mark by painting the industrial scene in the North West of England and by the time of the birthday concert, he had been painting this subject matter for four decades. Lowry attended art school in the early 20th century, when it was traditional to spend many hours drawing. Lowry thought highly of the training he had received and kept many of these drawings. From this grounding, he developed his own radical style of painting and drawing people. His famous industrial scenes are usually crowded with these figures, hurrying to and from work or play. Lowry created a stage set from the factories, streets and public parks of industrial towns. Although early paintings show some involvement with his figures, Lowry's attitude towards his crowds of people is often seen as 'detached'. Rather than bringing us into their lives, he made patterns from the crowd's movement, observing them from afar. By the 1960s, the mills, terraced streets and chimneys were disappearing fast and Lowry's interest in his traditional subject matter was correspondingly dwindling. However, the popularity of his mill scenes continued and he was constantly asked to repeat them. Contrary to popular opinion, his work was fetching high prices. For those who couldn't afford to buy, there were many examples in public galleries across the country. However, Salford Art Gallery was building the biggest public collection and its 350 works can now be seen in The Lowry at Salford Quays. Lowry was held in high regard by the people of the North West. The popularity of his art was perhaps increased by a nostalgia for the disappearing landscape his work often depicted. He was also adamant he would stay in the area that he knew, rather than move to London as most other aspiring artists did at this time. It seemed fitting, then, that Manchester, a city that had always been proud of its cultural history, should honour him with a special concert by that other Mancunian institution, the Hallé. Music played an important role in Lowry's life. His mother played the piano, and from his youth, Lowry would have known figures in Manchester and Salford for whom playing music and attending concerts were important pursuits. Later in life, he was known to paint to the sound of Donizetti and Bellini. He was asked to nominate his favourite pieces to be played, and he sat listening to the concert surrounded by his friends. If the Hallé chose to mark his 77th birthday because they feared he wouldn't live until 80, they were mistaken: Lowry lived another 12 years, still producing pictures, and died aged 88.