The man who invented Messiah from Scratch

The man who invented Messiah from Scratch


norman lebrecht

June 06, 2014

One of the early pleasures of my adult life in London was to climb to the highest galleries of the Royal Albert Hall and there, unheard by all but my beloved, belt my lungs out in Messiah, Elijah and whatever other oratorio was being performed ‘from scratch’.

These performances have been running for 40 years and I remember being told early on that some performers were so purist they built their own trumpets at home and came dressed as seraphim, or suchlike. It was a mass movement, reclaiming music for the people.

The father of the revolution was a Canadian, Don Monro, who taught electrical engineering at London’s Imperial College and was transfixed by the social engineering possibilities of the Royal Albert Hall, across the Road. It is with regret and gratitude that we report Don’s death of cancer, aged 72.


But his work continues…. On July 13 at 7pm you can join in the world première of Jonathan Willcocks’ “In Praise of Singing”, preceding the Fauré Requiem with 1,000 singers at the Royal Albert Hall.