Maida Vale Studios - Early Years

Early Years

The site was built in 1909 as the "Maida Vale Roller Skating Palace and Club". Over a period of fifteen months in 1933/1934, one hundred men reduced the skating rink to a shell, then rebuilt it. The arches at the doorway were preserved. It was one of the BBC's earliest premises, pre-dating Broadcasting House, and was the centre of the BBC News operation during World War II.

It has been the home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 1934. For over fifty years the BBC Symphony Orchestra has given invitation concerts, usually free. As a schoolboy, Vernon Handley learned some of his conducting technique by watching Sir Adrian Boult conduct the BBC symphony orchestra here. Studio 1 has room for an orchestra of over 150 musicians and an audience of over 200. An unusual feature of these concerts is that they were often recorded, which means that in later years the orchestra sometimes were able to do re-takes. It is the largest classical music studio in London.

The "Third Programme" was created in September 1946. By the 1950s, the Third Programme was frequently broadcasting concerts from this venue, including the first broadcast performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana given by the resident orchestra with the Goldsmiths Choral Union and soloists. Some premieres of British classical music were recorded here (in studio 1), including works by Robert Simpson, Arnold Bax, Nicholas Maw, Alan Rawsthorne and Sir Arthur Bliss. Many of them later became available on vinyl or CD. Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila was rehearsed here, before its UK premiere at the Royal Festival Hall.

In 1958 the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was created and based here until its demise in 1998, and the pioneering "Delaware" synthesiser made by EMS takes its name from the Studios' address. The Workshop's rooms are now used as a small TV studio for The Film programme, audio archiving facilities, engineering workshops and office space.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the radio programme Movie-Go-Round was broadcast from here. Peter Haigh played sound clips from major films. The Beatles used studio 5 several times in 1963 to record sessions for BBC radio.

Bands doing live sessions for John Peels Radio Show used to record them here also (see below).

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