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Sound of Music Halls

June 06, 1987

I have read with great interest Paul Dean's article. I am 72 years old, so never experienced Victorian music hall. My knowledge of it came from my parents who were young in the 1890s when music hall was getting into its stride.

The hook used to haul bad acts from the stage was something they had never seen. So was it true? I think it was done in a Hollywood movie in the 1930s. Audiences would throw pennies on the stage to register their disapproval, and this only at rowdier places.

I have recordings of stars such as Vesta Victoria, Charles Coborn, Florrie Forde, Harry Champion and Ella Retford. They were in their 60s and 70s at the time, but all have perfect diction and their songs are a joy to hear--and no (stage) microphones in their young days.

So don't knock British music hall--please. Jokes date, but just listen to the words and humor of those grand old Victorian songs, as sung by those great acts of long ago, and you will get a social history of the British working class.

VICTOR FINCH

Kent, England

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