Grand Hotel

Reginald Leopold and his Orchestra rehearsing for Grand Hotel

Relays of Light classical music started in 1925 from The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne and were, to quote the Radio Times of the era, 'Music of the Palm Court Orchestra'. The Lounge Hall of the Grand was used - it did not actually have a Palm Court.

The 'Grand Hotel' programme itself ran on Sundays from 1943 to 1973 and was generally broadcast live, usually from the Concert Hall at Broadcasting House but occasionally on location.

It was hosted by violinist Albert Sandler until early in 1948 when he was taken ill and left the programme being replaced by Tom Jenkins (Sandler died the following August).  Both had previously been musical directors of the Grand Hotel Eastbourne  (Sandler 1924-28 and Jenkins 1938-40). However other hotels were also used, notably the Royal Bath, Bournemouth and these programmes were not called 'Grand Hotel'.

It lapsed for a couple of years before returning for its final series in 1951 when it was pre-recorded and introduced by Tom Jenkins with the Palm Court Orchestra and guest baritone Alfred Swain. Max Jaffa took over in 1956, succeeding Jean Pougnet, and stayed to the end. Featured artists at this time were Jack Byfield, Max Jaffa and a different singer each week. Vanessa Lee was a favourite of the programme, but many other operatic sopranos were also invited to appear.

Reginald Leopold directed the Palm Court orchestra for 17 years, until 1973.

The programme was revived for a while in the eighties using Max Jaffa and subsequently the show went round the regions using different musical combinations. It was revived in 1995 for a one-off celebration using a larger orchestra conducted by Roderick Dunk

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The programme's signature tune was Strauss's '
Roses from the South'.

There was a similar programme, now forgotten, called 'Carnival Concert', which featured John Blore and his orchestra (with interval music by organist Charles Smart) playing 'music from the Winter Garden'. offers a 'Reginald Leopold and Grand Hotel' CD for ?9.95 (ref .C110)

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Listen to 'Grand Hotel' played by Reginald Leopold and the Palm Court Orchestra
as broadcast on 2nd. January 1972.
Programme is introduced by Reginald Leopold.

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Text by Brian Reynolds : e-mail