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National Gallery to celebrate Myra Hess concerts

2nd August 2010

The National Gallery will publish an online resource and host a special day of events to commemorate its history during the Second World War.

A website will be launched to celebrate pianist Dame Myra Hess and the concerts she founded at the National Gallery to bolster the spirits of Londoners living through the Blitz.

The resource will explain how the wartime concerts, which were seen by around 750,000 people, were brought to life by Hess and the gallery, as well as how the nation's collection of paintings was protected from German bombing raids by being hidden in a disused Welsh slate mine.

A day of concerts will also be held at the gallery on October 5th to support the launch of the website and will feature an appearance from violinist Ida Haendel, who performed in the wartime shows when she was a teenager.

Hess' concerts began in October 1939 after London's music halls, theatres, galleries and museums were closed to prevent mass casualties during bombing raids, leaving the capital lacking cultural pursuits. The performances were held until April 1946 - long after the Second World War had ended.
 

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