Charles Moore Collection

The Charles Moore Collection, established at the University of Leicester in 1982, is one of the very few academic musical instrument collections in British Universities. It specialises in eighteenth and nineteenth century woodwind and brass instruments, but there are also some interesting keyboard instruments.

For information on, or access to, the Charles Moore Collection, please contact the curator, Stephen Weston,

Charles Moore 1878-1962

This short biography of Charles Moore's life is written in connection with the instruments collected by him in the course of his business and band associations, but little is known of the collection, which was not exhibited during his lifetime. He is remembered instead as a brass band conductor, trainer and adjudicator, eminent cornet player, church choirmaster and local politician.

He was born on Moat Street, Wigston Magna, on 11 May 1878, the sixth child of a family that eventually numbered ten children. He left the local Church Day School at the age of eleven to work in a stockinger's shop, and until 1912 continued to be involved in the hosiery trade, variously at Market Harborough, Oadby, Wigston and Leicester.

From the age of seven he had been involved in church music, and, as there was already a tradition of brass playing in the family, he commenced cornet lessons. At the age of nineteen he studied the instrument with Edward Matthews, cornet player at the Leicester Opera House. In 1903 he married Matthews' daughter, Kate. A cornopean, which is now in the instrument collection, was formerly owned by the Matthews family, and it is probable that this was played by Moore's father-in-law. Although his full-time employment in the hosiery trade continued, Charles Moore worked with Matthews as cornettist at the Opera House, also fulfilling engagements at Winn's Oriental Cafe, where he was cellist in a piano trio.

He was a founder-member of Wigston Temperance Band in 1902, later becoming its conductor; in this capacity, he guided the band to the Championship Section at the Crystal Palace contests during the twenties. He opened a piano and sheet music business in Station Road, Wigston in 1912. This moved to Blaby Road, South Wigston, the next year and remained as a music shop until the succeeding owners moved the business to Kibworth in the early eighties. Following Charles Moore's death, the family continued to run the shop until the end of 1973.

Charles Moore was the instigator of the formation of many new bands throughout the area, also taking a hand in the training of these. He conducted the Countesthorpe Cottage Homes Boys' Band for thirty-seven years, and was involved in bands at Kibworth, Great Glen, Fleckney, Croft, Oadby, Burbage, Barlestone and Melton. He was also associated with bands in Warwickshire and Norfolk. He was prominent in the foundation of the Leicestershire Brass Band Association, and was a notable contributor to the National Association. As an adjudicator his duties took him to both the Crystal Palace and Belle Vue contests. He was a prolific band arranger, but none of these arrangements were published.

In the field of Church Music, he held choirmaster's positions at Blaby and Cosby, and was later Choirmaster at St Thomas' Church, South Wigston, where a strong choral tradition still remains. He was involved with the Church Lads' Brigade in Leicester, and taught wind instruments, during the second world war, at Alderman Newton's Boys' School.

Charles Moore was a Wigston Urban District Councillor from 1938 until 1953; he was Chairman in 1946-7.

When he died, in 1962, there were many tributes from the wide variety of fields in which he had worked. R Curtis Weston summarised most when he noted:

He was a man of the highest integrity and deepest sincerity. He was always willing to help any cause, and was constantly concerned about other people.


Stephen J Weston MPhil PhD GRSM LTCL ProfCert RAM QTS, Curator, Charles Moore Collection of Musical Instruments, University of Leicester

The Curator, Dr Steve Weston was born in Leicester in 1951; his early musical interests were church music and trombone-playing. In this latter capacity he was a member of the British Youth Wind Orchestra, becoming an undergraduate trombonist at the Royal Academy of Music in 1970. He studied trombone and euphonium with Sydney Langston, harmony with Douglas Hawkridge and composition on the advanced course with Eric Fenby, Delius’ amanuensis. He is a Graduate of the Royal Schools of Music, a Licentiate of Trinity College and holds the Professional Certificate of the Royal Academy.

He started collecting instruments as a schoolboy at Alderman Newton’s School, Leicester; his first purchase was a 19th Century piccolo from a charity shop, which cost 12s 6d (62 ½p). Since then, his collection of instruments has grown and now forms the major part of the Charles Moore Collection.
After leaving the Academy he re-established himself in the Midlands, playing with the Orchestra da Camera, the Graff Orchestra and the Midland Philharmonic. In 1974 he was appointed Brass Tutor at the University of Leicester, followed by similar posts at the City of Leicester College of Education (now De Montfort University) and Loughborough University of Technology.

He was appointed to a full-time position at Bedford High School in 1976, later combining this with post-graduate research at Leicester. He was awarded the degree of Master of Philosophy for his work on the ophicleide, an instrument on which he has given lecture recitals and played professionally. His research interests moved into the field of church music with a commission by the Council for the Care of Churches for a listing of extant choir-band instruments. His Doctorate in this field, entitled The music and instrumentation of the English church choir-band was completed in 1995; his publications are varied, including contributions to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd edition), The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, the Galpin Society Journal and many works on local musical history. He has edited church music and continues to compose.

He is a member of the Galpin Society and the Friends of Cathedral Music. Since 1989 he has been Choir Master at Fuller Baptist Church, Kettering and is the President of Kettering Camerata, with which (and also in his earlier capacity as choirmaster at Kettering Parish Church and director of Bedford High School Chapel Choir) he has directed Evensong at various English cathedrals.

He retired from his post of Director of Music at Bedford High School in 2011, a rewarding post which involved a considerable amount of conducting in addition to academic teaching. His interests include literature, ecclesiastical architecture and the countryside; from a sedentary position he enjoys football, supporting Leicester City and Peterborough United.

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