From 1984 -88, I studied at the Royal College of Music, for the most part with Professor David Mason, but also with Michael Laird and Stanley Woods. When David Mason was unavailable, the distinguished former Senior Professor, Richard ‘Bob’Walton would take over. Mr. Walton, a student of Ernest Hall in 1927, was still teaching at the RCM during my first two years study before retiring.
The RCM was a very imposing building, steeped in tradition, and left one with the impression of studying in a place of history and importance. From the picture above, straight across the zebra crossing, in the basement immediately to the left of the door, you can see room 29. This was called ‘The Ernest Hall Room’ and was where the majority of the trumpet teaching took place.
Ernest hall was a legend. he strode over the post war trumpet world like a colossus! he came to London, from Liverpool actually, and dominated the London orchestral scene for years, even for a couple of generations (trumpet-wise) after his retirement. he had been awesome as Principal Trumpet of first the London Symphony orchestra but especially as the newly formed BBC Symphony Orchestra, considered the best orchestra in the world, at that time. You had to be taught by either him or one of his students. he continued to teach at the RCM well after his playing days and, at the insistence of his students, continued to take orchestra repertoire classes after even his trumpet teaching days were over, too. If a student wasn’t playing well David Mason would ‘tutt’ and point up reproachfully at Mr. Hall’s rather forbidding portrait on the wall. I was in my first term at the college when david mason escorted Ernest Hall into the building at the age of 99 for the instigation of the Ernest Hall Brass Prize. He died that year…
Richard ‘Bob’ Walton was a protegee of Hall’s and took over as Senior Professor. By the time I started, Peter Reeve and Michael Laird were also teaching trumpet and Senior Professor David mason had already been there for many years. I studied with David for six wonderful years, and then saw him on the odd occasion for an ‘M.O.T. lesson’ a few times after that. He always demonstrated everything better than me!
The list of students taught by Ernest Hall at the RCM is quite remarkable. The list below, complied by Edgar Riches on Mr. Hall’s retirement as a who’s who of UK trumpeters. Their own pupils still dominate the scene in the Uk, and elsewhere.
Incidentally, prior to Ernest Hall the teachers at the Royal College of Music were John Solomon and firstly, Thomas Harper Junior. Harper, whose father was the second trumpet teacher appointed by the Royal Academy of Music was the first Principal Trumpet of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.