edgar speyer


OverstrandThe Times, letter from Prof Tony Lentin - 2 May 2015


Sir, Edward Blakeman, director of the BBC Proms 2015, acclaims “the original vision established by Sir Henry Wood and Robert Newman . . .to offer audiences concerts that are high-quality, accessible and affordable” (letter, April 29).  He makes no mention of the man who ensured the survival of that vision: Sir Edgar Speyer, who rescued the Proms when Robert Newman went bankrupt in 1902. Speyer took over the Proms, professionalised the orchestra, subsidised affordable tickets and persuaded Elgar, Strauss and others to perform –all at his own expense.
In August 1914, in a letter to The Times entitled “Highly Placed Spies”, he was denounced by the proprietor of the Queen’s Hall, who gave him notice to quit and terminated his connection with the Proms.  This unleashed a remorseless campaign against prominent Anglo-Germans, and Speyer took refuge in America.
Last-night Promenaders joining in Land of Hope and Glory or Parry’s Jerusalem are probably unaware that Parry wrote to Speyer to express shame at his treatment, and that Elgar wrote to Speyer to record “the indebtedness of the English people to you” as “a great uplifting force” in British musical life. BBC Proms has so far studiously ignored the man without whom there would be no Proms. Why? In this centenary of Speyer’s departure into exile, will Mr Blakeman not consider some musical tribute on the last night of the Proms to the man who resuscitated and personified “the original vision” he upholds? 




Jewish Book Week - 23 February 2015

`The Rise and Fall of Sir Edgar Speyer’.  Tony Lentin and leading public lawyer and human rights advocate, Sir Louis Blom-Cooper are interviewed  by Simon Kinder, historian and deputy head at Gresham’s School. You can hear the recording here: http://www.jewishbookweek.com/past-events/2412/audio


BBC Radio London - 21 October 2013

Tony Lentin interview about the life of Speyer

Please click here to hear the interview.


Anglia TV - 3 September 2013

Norfolk Edwardian hotel at the centre of spy drama


The Guardian - 27 August 2013

Edgar Speyer, the man who saved the Proms


Eastern Daily Press - 21 August 2013

Overstrand hotel at the centre of wartime spy book

Photo opposite courtesy of the Eastern Daily Press


BBC Radio Norfolk - 4 August 2013

You can hear Tony being interviewed by Clare Worden at the Sea Marge Hotel, Sir Edgar's former home in North Norfolk - the anniversary of the outbreak of WW1. Please click here for the recorded interview: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0232jrq