OK, apologies for the title. Snarking aside, there’s something genuinely fascinating about the history of the organ – and its six organists – at Liverpool’s most impressive neo-classical edifice.
Just last week a bust of the first organist, William Thomas Best, was restored to St George’s Hall after being removed at the start of WWII and residing since in the Walker Art Gallery’s stores.
Best was Liverpool’s first organist in 1855, with his Hall performances famous across the country; a 56.5cm bust created by Conrad Dressler – who also made all the other friezes in the Great Hall which make up “The Progress of Justice” series – to honour Best.
Incredibly there have been only six organists at St George’s Hall in 156 years. Perhaps even more incredibly the Hall’s Willis Organ was built by Henry Willis & Sons, who are still based just up the road, outside the city centre.
The organ is the third largest in the UK, while the largest is a little further south in the Anglican Cathedral. So, there you go. Liverpool has two of the best organs in the country – and they’re still made here. Why not see them for yourself at the Cathedral or St George’s Hall – and say hello to William Best while you’re there.
Here’s the city’s current organist, Professor Ian Tracey, showing off St George’s Halls Willis Organ – and the Cathedral’s a bit further down.