19th Century

Worcester 1800

First Three Choirs performance of The Creation by Haydn. François Cramer succeeded his father as Leader, and continued to appear at the Meetings until his retirement at the age of 76.

Gloucester 1832

Samuel Sebastian Wesley appointed organist at Hereford, appearing at a Meeting for the first time, as a pianist, at Worcester in 1833. He remained at Hereford until 1835.

Gloucester 1838

The first Music Meeting to be designated a ‘Three Choirs Festival’. Queen Victoria was crowned in the previous year, and in 1830, as Princess Victoria, had attended the Meeting at Worcester at which Maria Malibran, making her second Three Choirs appearance, was hailed as the great star of the occasion.

Gloucester 1847

Mendelssohn’s Elijah performed in the year following its first performance in Birmingham. Thereafter, it featured at every Festival until 1929 and many times thereafter.

Hereford 1864

Chamber recitals introduced under the initiative of George Townshend Smith, the organist of Hereford.

Gloucester 1865

S.S.Wesley appointed organist at Gloucester, where, inter alia, the first Three Choirs performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion was given under his direction at the 1871(G) Festival.

Worcester 1878

Elgar first played in the Festival orchestra.

Hereford 1879

Arthur Sullivan conducted his Light of the World.

Gloucester 1880

Hubert Parry conducted the première of his Scenes from Shelley’s ‘Prometheus Unbound’, a work hailed by Sir Henry Hadow as the birth of modern English music.


John Stainer conducted the first performance of his St Mary Magdalen, which was repeated at Hereford in 1891. Charles Villiers Stanford conducted his Symphony No.2 in D minor (Elegiac).

Worcester 1884

Antonin Dvorak conducted performances of his Stabat Mater and Symphony No. 6 in D, Op.60 (formerly No.1).

Gloucester 1889

Sullivan conducted his In Memoriam and Prodigal Son; Parry conductedJudith.

Worcester 1890

Parry conducted his Ode on St Cecilia’s Day. Elgar conducted the first performance of his Overture Froissart.

Hereford 1891

George Robertson Sinclair’s first festival as Artistic Director at Hereford. Première of Parry’s De Profundis under the composer’s direction.

Gloucester 1892

Parry conducted Job, which was repeated under his baton in 1893(W), 1894(H), 1901(G) and 1909(H).

Worcester 1893

First Three Choirs Festival performance of the Bach Mass in B minor.

Gloucester 1895

Frederic Cowen conducted the première of his The Transfiguration.

Worcester 1896

Elgar conducted the première of The Light of Life (Lux Christi).

Gloucester 1898

Herbert Brewer’s first festival as Artistic Director at Gloucester. The first appearance of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor at Three Choirs, where he conducted the première of his Ballade in A minor. Parry conducted the first performance of his A Song of Darkness and Light. The first performances in England of the Stabat Mater, Laudi alla Vergine and Te Deum from Quattro pezzi sacri by Giuseppe Verdi.

Worcester 1899

Ivor Atkins’s first festival as Artistic Director at Worcester. Coleridge-Taylor conducted the first performance of his Solemn Prelude for orchestra. The American composer Horatio Parker conducted the first British performance of his Hora Novissima, and Elgar conducted the first Three Choirs performance of his Enigma Variations.