Street View: 82
Address: 37 Charlotte Street

In the street directory for Street View 82 (Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square) we find a Mr. Cramer at number 37 without an occupation. The elevation map in booklet 82 unfortunately does not show numbers 28 to 68, although the inhabitants are listed in the directory. Quite a number of residents in the missing part of the street have no occupation after their name and I assume that Tallis considered that part of Charlotte Street, that is, the section between Tottenham Street and Howland Street, too residential for his Street Views which were basically a guide to the shops of London. Why he nevertheless decided to list the names of those living in the missing section is unclear. You will, therefore, not find the customary elevation at the top of this post, but to compensate for this gap in the Tallis information, below a map of the area with Cramer’s house marked with a cross.

OS map 1893

Charlotte Street originally only extended to Goodge Street, later to Tottenham Street and that section was also known as Lower Charlotte Street. When the street was extended from Tottenham Street to Howland Street, the new section was referred to as Upper Charlotte Street. This Upper section is what Tallis does not show on his map. The houses have been re-numbered twice in their history – to make life easy for historians no doubt – with the present sequence running from south to north, with the odd numbers on the west and the even numbers on the east side.(1) When Mr. Cramer lived in Charlotte Street, his house, which was situated on the east side, just around the corner from what is now Chitty Street, was numbered 37, but nowadays it is number 82 and part of the Saatchi & Saatchi building. Chitty Street, by the way, was previously called North Street, although Tallis in his directory calls it North Place.

The Survey of London(1) gives us the occupants for number 82 (= 37):

1786–1794, Sir Charles Booth, Bt. 1797–1808, Sir Alexander Hamilton. 1835–1844, Francois Cramer (1772–1848), violinist

Sir Charles Booth (1812-1896) was the 3rd baronet of Portland Place, a gin-distiller, and no, he had nothing to do with Charles Booth, the social reformer and philanthropist. Sir Alexander Hamilton is a bit of a mystery [see comment for information]. I had a look at the Wikipedia page for the Hamilton baronets and there is no Alexander there in the correct period. Never mind, we will concentrate on François Cramer who was the Mr. Cramer listed by Tallis.

Portrait by Benjamin Phelps Gibbon, after William Watts

Portrait of François Cramer by Benjamin Phelps Gibbon, after William Watts ©National Portrait Gallery

François (or Franz) Cramer was the son of Wilhelm Cramer and the brother of Johann Baptist Cramer, both musicians who became far more famous than François. François was born on 12 June 1772 in Schwetzingen, near Mannheim and Heidelberg, but came to London when still young. He was not a very robust child and was taught the violin by his father at home, later frequently appearing in concerts with his father and/or brother. In 1794, he became a member of the Royal Society of Musicians and the leading violinist of the Ancient Concerts. In 1813, he was one of the founding member of the Philharmonic Society Orchestra. In 1834 he became Master of the King’s music. He may have composed music, but if so, most of his work has disappeared; only one violin composition is known.(2) Allatson Burgh, in his Anecdotes of Music praises “Messrs. J. and François Cramer, each in his respective line” for their “strength, correctness, and elegance of expression, incalculably superior to the tricks and rapid execution of those dealer in ‘notes, et rien que des notes,’ whom the tasteless caprice of fashion is constantly importing, like other wonderful and useless exotics.”(3)

Jacques de Claeuw, Vanitas, 1650

Jacques de Claeuw, Vanitas, 1650 ©Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

In May, 1829, Felix Mendelssohn wrote that he was in the Argyll Rooms to rehears his symphony with the Philharmonic Orchestra and that there were about two hundred listeners, chiefly ladies. Apparently, the rehearsals were not behind closed doors and the public was welcome. Mendelssohn writes that François Cramer, the first violin, first introduced him to all the members of the orchestra and then the rehearsal started. According to Mendelssohn “it went very well and powerfully, and pleased the people much even at rehearsal. After each movement the whole audience and the whole orchestra applauded”. After the rehearsal, “Cramer was overjoyed, and loaded me with praise and compliments” and Mendelssohn had to shake “at least two hundred different hands.” The actual concert on 25 May went even better and the public vigorously demanded an encore and “after the finale they continued applauding”.(4) The symphony he conducted on 25 May was first envisaged as Sinfonia 13, but became Symphony no. 1 in C minor op. 11 and when it was published in 1831, Mendelssohn dedicated the symphony to the Philharmonic Society.(5) As can be seen in the next illustration, it was not just Mendelssohn himself who was pleased with the way the performance went; The Morning Post of 27 May reviewed the symphony favourably and was most impressed by Mendelssohn’s use of a baton.

Morning Post 27 May 1829

In 1831, concern was voiced in The Spectator that Cramer was to leave the Philharmonic Society. The paper hoped that the report was not true as “the loss would be mutual: the orchestra would miss the services of so excellent and experienced a leader; and to him, or to any other of its leaders, the occupancy of such a situation must be in every way advantageous”.(6) It proved an unfounded piece of gossip, but a few years later, in 1839, a small notice appeared in The Musical World suggesting that Cramer’s health was not what it should be. “Mr. François Cramer has, we regret to learn, been dangerously ill, but hopes are now entertained of his recovery; his complaint is a nervous affection of the head, from which he has suffered most excruciating pains.”(7) but a few years later, in 1844, Cramer did resign as leader of the Philharmonic Society, continuing as a ‘normal’ member until his death.

The 1841 census (probably roughly the same period in which Tallis’s Street View 82 appeared) finds François, “professor of music”, living at 37 Charlotte Street with his wife Ann and sons Henry, 22 years old, a civil engineer, Frederick, 17 years old, a builder, and Arthur, 15 years old, also a “professor of music”. Ann is Ann Barwick Lamb whom François had married on 14 November 1806 in Brighton. It is unclear whether the family stayed in Charlotte Street; there is a suggestion(8) that they moved to Cavendish Square, but unfortunately the next census of 1851 came too late to be of any use to determine the veracity of the suggestion. Cramer died on 25 July 1848 and was buried on the 29th at St. John’s Hampstead.

Ancient Orchestra - a rehearsal by J. Doyle

Ancient Concerts – A Rehearsal by John Doyle. Lithograph 1838. Politicians have taken the place of musicians to signify that in both politics and music the cooperation of the individual members under the leadership of an able conductor is vital. (Source: http://www.albion-prints.com)

(1) Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & neighbourhood, 1949.
(2) Biographical information from Grove Dictionary of Music. The manuscript of Cramer’s violin composition (Album Leaf) is in the British Library, as are the archival records and scores of the Philharmonic Society.
(3) A. Burgh, Anecdotes of Music, Historical and Biographical; in a Series of Letters from a Gentleman to his Daughter, 1814, vol. 3, p. 445-456.
(4) Sebastian Hensel (translated by C. Klingemann), The Mendelssohn Family (1729–1847), vol. 1 (2013), p. 184-185.
(5) The Cambridge Companion to Mendelssohn, ed. P. Mercer-Taylor (2004), p. 96-97.
(6) The Spectator, 26 November 1831.
(7) The Musical World, A Magazine of Essays, Critical and Practical, and Weekly Record of Musical Science, Literature, and Intelligence, 3 January 1839, p. 14.
(8) Deborah Rohr, The Careers of British Musicians, 1750-1850: A Profession of Artisans (2001), p. 38.


<– 36 Charlotte Street 38 Charlotte Street –>