Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Sunday, 12 September 2010

JOSEPH BRADLEY (1857-1935)


JOSEPH BRADLEY musician and music teacher, was born on 28 February 1857 at Newton Hyde, Cheshire, he was the son of Matthew Henry Bradley, later publican, and his wife Mary, née Heywood. Joseph was trained by Dr Frederick Bridge of Manchester Cathedral, and at 12 he was appointed assistant organist of St Paul's Church, Stalybridge. In 1873 he became a fellow of the Royal College of Organists, then to New College, Oxford in October 1874 and graduated Bachelor of Music the following year. As organist in 1876-80 at St Thomas's Church, Heaton Norris, Stockport, he formed and conducted a fifty-piece orchestra. On 8 August 1877 with Anglican rites he married Catherine Mary Pickering at Manchester; they had two children.
Bradley's first major post was as deputy conductor and organist for the Hallé Orchestra of Manchester in 1881-87. There he once conducted Handel's Messiah seven times in a week. As chorus-master and conductor of the Glasgow Choral Union in 1887-1908 he controlled over 400 members; the leader of its orchestra was Henri Verbrugghen. Bradley opened the organ at the International Exhibition
of 1888, Glasgow, and in 1890 applied unsuccessfully for appointment as city organist of Sydney.
Appointed conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Society of Sydney in 1908, Bradley arrived with his wife on 23 March in the Somerset. With the Philharmonic Choir and the new Sydney Symphony Orchestra, which he also conducted (always without a baton), in 1908-14 In Bradley's twenty years in Sydney he conducted 126 performances including 29 of the Messiah, 8 of Mendelssohn's Elijah, 5 of Haydn's The Creation, 4 of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust and 4 of Elgar's Caractacus. Conforming with the style of the society, his performances were safe rather than adventurous.
Verbrugghen was chosen in preference to him as first director of the new State Conservatorium of Music, but Bradley philosophically accepted the professorship of theory and later also taught solfeggio. He published A Solfeggio Manual for Teachers (1919) and A Manual of Musical Ornamentation (1924). He was one of three conductors for the opening concert of the conservatorium in 1915 but, being bald, rotund and impassive, he seemed stodgy compared to Verbrugghen. Though dreaded by students as something of a martinet, he was recognized by all as peerless in theoretical and practical musicianship.
When Verbrugghen resigned, Bradley was on the committee which governed the conservatorium in the interregnum, then in 1924 went on a short visit to Europe, partly to introduce Gladys Cole, a favourite singing pupil, to the musical world. Soon after his return his eyesight began to fail. Pugnaciously proud and reserved, he told nobody, not even his wife, conducted from memory as long as he could and resigned without explanation only when faced with a new score. The Philharmonic Society was angered and gave him only a lukewarm farewell and a meagre cheque. He returned to England in January 1928 to join his son Julius who had spent years in China. An operation for a cataract left him blind. Aged 78, he died of cerebral vascular disease at Harrow, Middlesex, on 3 March 1935.


Tom said...

I came across this by chance while looking for something completely different... I had never heard of him before but thought it was worth showing him off here. I wonder hom many more famous sons and daughters of Hyde can be collected here... I know of a few I'd like to cover but please feel free to list yours and we will do as many as we can find information on. Again it will be of interested to have them listed in one place under one heading and available for all to see and read about.

Manchester Lass, Now and Then said...

Very interesting. I lived on Bradley Green Road in Newton for a short time back in 1975, I'm wondering now if the street was in part named after Joseph?

Hydonian said...

That sounds very feasible ,Manchester Lass. I've always been intrigued about how some Street/Road names came about!

Tom said...

I was just showing this and a few other posts to my friend Jack Cheetham... his wife was a Bradley... and one of her ancesters ancestors was also a publican... He said he will now have a talk with her about this...
As for Bradley Green Road.... I have an idea that the road took it's name from the farm which was near to where Bradley Green Primary School is now... on the older maps it is show as a track leading to the farm long before the other roads were built...