Royal College of Music – Professor Ernest Hall

The Royal College of Music

The Royal College of Music

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’s imposing photograph on the walls of room 29!

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…

David Mason & Philip Jones at Ernest Hall's retirement celebrations.

David Mason & Philip Jones at Ernest Hall’s retirement celebrations.

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!

My mentor, David Mason, with his mentor, The great Ernest Hall

My mentor, David Mason, with his mentor, The great Ernest Hall

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.

Letter with ignatories pleading with the RCM authorities not to let Ernest Hall retire completely

Letter with signatories pleading with the RCM authorities not to let Ernest Hall retire completely

About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
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7 Responses to Royal College of Music – Professor Ernest Hall

  1. Ken Taylor says:

    Hi Brendan,
    Interesting article on Ernest Hall. I see one of his pupils in1931 was a certain Webber W S Lloyd – father I think !! The dates are consistent with him.
    An excellent website for brass playing anoraks, with a wealth of information, particularly on players of yesteryear.
    Keep it up.

  2. Pingback: RLPO, West Everton Children’s Orchestra and the combined Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choirs – BBC Prom 66 | Brendan Ball's Blog

  3. I arrived in London from Southern Rhodesia aged 17 in March 1954 thinking I could be a trumpet player , I went down to Prof Halls home each (Beckenham ) Thursday for a few months but decided myself that I would not make it . Prof said ‘I was just waiting for you to make up your own mind’. He told me that his son had done the same thing. I became an England and Wales C A ..Prof and his wife were two of the most delightful people I have ever met and it is only as a result of the internet that have discovered that he lived to 99. I recall him telling me how he had his first playing engagement round about 1906-8. Thanks Robert Hoole Durban S A

  4. Steve Dawes says:

    Brendan.Thanks for a most interesting blog and some wonderful photos. I was privileged to study under both Ernest Hall and David Mason as a member of the NYO from 1974-81 (the last 3 years as principal) and with David privately.
    Prof Hall was a truly wonderful man – an inspiration.My lungs still ache from him getting us to play excerpts from memory of eg Die Rosenkavalier, Scheherazade and two octave scale warm ups in semibreves up to high C.D etc. Hard when youre 14. We rehearsed the opening to Tchaik 4 and if anyone knocked one over we went back to the start. “In my day lads you had to put it on the tape – again please- top of the breath – and again….” As you might imagine, the performance was a clean sheet. …Although he had been warned off playing into his 80s for medical reasons he used to sneak a quick blow on my trumpet during sectional rehearsal – the high C was still there, as was the trademark embouchure. I recall him conducting some Gabrieli (Canzon Noni Toni ) in sectionals when we were supposed to be doing eg Petrouchka and if ivy Dickson (who ran the NYO at that time ) was seen wandering up the path we would all get the Stravinsky out and play from letter D or whatever (prearranged by Ernie) He had his methods and logic – it was all about the sound for him which needed to be maintained as a brass section at all times..
    David Mason was of that same school. Some of the Arban studies in one breath which he would demonstrate ahead of asking you to go as far as you could. Arban mixed intervals at length, all articulations, all dynamics (real pp and ff) and octave studies (painfully slow). A wonderful teacher and a great supporter of everything you wanted to do.

  5. Michael Finkelman says:

    Dear Mr. Ball –
    I appreciated your blogging about your teacher’s remarkable teacher, Mr. Ernest Hall.
    I wonder if you might be able to direct me to a book I saw in my youth many years ago. I regret
    I cannot now recall author or title, but it must have been a book of some kind about the orchestra in general, as it prominently displayed photos of every section of the BBCSO as it was then constituted. Mr. Hall was very prominently featured at the head of the trumpet section. The BBC itself has regrettably been of no use whatever in this search. Can you enlighten me? Many thanks..

    • Brian Wright says:

      Dear Michael, Just in case you did not find out about the BBCSO,the book is The Road to the Orchestra by Stephen S Moore published by Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd in 1939. I was given a copy then when I was six and many years later had a lesson with Ernest Hall at the Queenswood Orchestral Course – he soon straightened out my brass band vibrato! You could probably get a copy either on eBay or Amazon.Best Wishes Brian Wright

  6. Julian Davies says:

    I was a student of Ernest Hall in Room 29 in the late 60s. I was in Junior College (Saturday mornings) for three years and then a fulltime student until graduation in 1971. During that time I was taught by “Ernie” and two of his students, Michael Hinton and Don Blakeson. My “first study” instrument was piano and I was not able to practice the trumpet as much as I wanted, but in spite of that Mr. Hall was always patient and encouraging, as were the others. I feel very lucky to have had that experience. After a break of decades, I felt the need and picked up the trumpet again 2 years ago, and I’m now retired and happily playing in church every week, mostly C trumpet. The one thing I remember Mr. Hall saying to me over and over, and it’s still great advice: “Every note, lad, every note!”

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