Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Marylebone Road, London

Maestoso, etc

I often walk along Marylebone Road and I usually admire the Royal Academy of Music as I pass. The other day I did what I’ve always meant to do, and stopped to take a photograph. It’s a building of 1910 by Sir Ernest George, a good late-Victorian and Edwardian architect known for his country houses and his versatility (his practice designed all kinds of buildings from Golders Green Crematorium to mansion flats) but always rather in the shadow of his even more successful pupil, Edwin Lutyens.

I like the well-mannered baroque of his Royal Academy design. The materials, red brick and Portland stone, are thoroughly at home in London, the facade looks rather like a country house, with its side wings, but is also urban, somehow – perhaps it’s the sense of height conveyed by those vertical ranks of windows and the tall chimneys.
Towards the top it gets very fancy, with those round oeil de boeuf windows, the curved pediment, the reclining figures with musical instruments to hand, and the extraordinary window in the centre of the pediment, that can’t make up its mind whether it’s oval or rectangular. It’s majestic, but also very lively – in musical terms, maestoso, but with decidedly allegro passages. Altogether, it’s a building that enlivens my days when I pass, as the work of some of its alumni enlivens my evenings.


Hels said...

If the reclining figures with musical instruments were added onto the facade from the very beginning, we can assume the building was always intended to be used by the Royal Academy of Music. Where was the Royal Academy before 1910?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Hels: The Royal Academy of Music was originally in Tenterden Street, which is off Hanover Square. The replacement building in my post was indeed designed specifically for the RAM.