The History of Mozart Lodge No. 3735
Before the First World War, for some two or three years, a strong desire had been expressed by a number of Brethren in Birmingham, for the formation of a daytime Lodge, which would be largely for the benefit of members of the Musical Profession. By reason of their engagements they were unable to attend Lodges held in the evening. A number of Brethren in the Warwickshire Province held meetings to discuss the formation of such a Lodge, the first recorded meeting being held on October 30th. l913. Many of the Lodge members played regularly for the BBC over the years as well as holding key musical positions in the theatre and the education sector.
At that meeting it was proposed that a musical member should be the first Worshipful Master of the Lodge. After some discussion, it was decided to offer the position to W. Bro. Dr. G. R. Sinclair, Organist of Hereford Cathedral and a close friend of Edward Elgar who recognised him in the Enigma Variations.
When the second recorded meeting took place on December 30th, 1913, it was decided that the Lodge meetings be held at 12 Noon on the third Friday of the month, for musicians Friday being a day off for them, free from matinees and rehearsals, and this would enable them to attend their Lodge meetings, and still follow their business in the evening. The Musicians were leading members of music in Birmingham, including founders of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra – later CBSO – BBC which started in Birmingham in the early 1920’s. Five meetings would be held, in the months of October, November, January, February and March. It was subsequently decided to canvas the views of members on discontinuing the March meeting, and having obtained a favourable response, steps were taken in 1976 to change the Lodge Bye-laws, to omit the March Regular Meeting, and substitute April.
Looking through the list of Founders and some of the early applications for membership, there are a wide range of professions stated who are not apparent as musicians. Not apparent that is as professionals but they may have been semi professional or amateur as indeed we know that some of them were.
Design of the banner was left to the decision of a sub-committee, and a design was submitted by W.Bro. F. J. Penn. The bar of music which was to feature on the Banner was decided at that meeting of 20 May 2013. Being named after the Mozart, who of course was a Freemason, it was very fitting to display the fact on the Banner, and so the music chosen was taken from his aria, “Within These Hallowed Walls”, which was part of the “Magic Flute”. A motto displayed thereon is, ‘Commit thy work to God’.
Founder Members would receive a jewel, and several of these are still in circulation, and are in possession of some of the Past Masters and worn as Past Master’s Jewels. Consecrating officers at the ceremony were to be presented with a Founders Jewel and were also to be appointed Honorary Members of the Lodge. They were of course, the Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire, Rt. W. Bro. George Beech, assisted by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W. Bro Lt. Col. W. F. Wyley. Bro. A. Heydon had applied to be the Tyler of the Lodge and he was accepted. Bedford Lodge No. 925, were to be given the honour of petitioning for the new Lodge, although only two of the Founder members were from that Lodge. The main force behind the project seems to have been W. Bro. F. J. Penn. who was a member of Bedford Lodge, so that was as good a reason as any for them being asked to do.
The Petition to Grand Lodge to found the new Mozart Lodge, containing the names of 38 Founder members, was signed on 20 April 1914, by the Worshipful Master, and the Senior and Junior Wardens of Bedford Lodge.
Grand Lodge sanctioned our formation on June 17th. 1914 and we were number 3735 in the Register of the Grand Lodge of England.
The Lodge met at various locations in the City of Birmingham and in 1971 moved from Francis Road, Edgbaston to Stirling Road in Edgbaston where we remained until 2014 when the building was sold. We have in recent times met in Halesowen, Handsworth until finally settling in Erdington.
In the early 1990’s it was decided to cease meeting on a Friday lunchtime and meet on a Tuesday evening as it became harder to encourage new members to join because of their work commitments.
In 2014 we held two Centenary celebrations the first being ‘informal’ and the second more ‘formal’ as we received our centenary warrant from Grand Lodge. A good time was had by all those in attendance.
Due to the meeting rooms being somewhat oversubscribed at the Yenton Assembly rooms we are currently meeting on the first Monday in October, third Monday in November, the second Monday in January, the third Tuesday in February and second Monday in April usually starting at 6.00 p.m.
It was usual for the musicians to entertain the Brethren at the Festive Board, which makes Mozart Lodge something special. Visiting musicians often played their part, and a good time was had by all. It is still normal for us to have a musical interlude at our festive board held after the Lodge meeting.
One of the early initiates was Walter Heard, the first Principal Flautist in the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. His son Haydn Heard was Director of Music in the Lodge in the 1920’s so that must suggest that there was a musical activity, as one would expect. It is difficult to pin point just when the Lodge was able to provide an orchestra for concerts, but it is known that Bro. W. A. Clarke was Director of the Mozart Orchestra in 1931. He was a bassoon player in the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (later became the C.B.S.O.) and was the conductor of the Birmingham Military Band.
By 1940, Bro. Les Godsall was Director of Music, and he appears to have served the Lodge in that capacity until the 1960’s. It is said he did more than any other single person to hold together orchestral music in the Lodge. He was a member of the BBC Midland Light Orchestra. He was Master in 1944. His daughter Jill played piano solos at the Ladies Evenings from the age of six.
During W.W. II and after, Bro. Charles Hedges, a Lodge member, and his wife Eveline Stevenson, who were both well known broadcasting singers, entertained the Lodge at Ladies Evenings.
Bro. Charles Hedges also sang Handel’s oratorio, “Judas Maccabaeus”, in the Lodge during the Third Degree ceremony.
On the death of W. Bro. Les Godsall, W. Bro. Fred Kelly took over as Director of Music in the 1960’s, and he held that office for some 18 years with great distinction until his health failed in 1979, when he was forced to relinquish the office. He was a member of the well known Midland orchestra of Jan Berenska, which broadcast before and throughout the war from the tea room in Lewis’s, in Birmingham, and The Pump Room in Leamington Spa.
Ladies Evenings have been well entertained for many years by the musicians of the Lodge, assisted by guest musicians. This was still being carried on in 1992 by the Mozart Players, consisting of:
Bro. Harold Rich (piano), W. Bro. Bill Hand (violin), Bro. Norman Parker (percussion), Bro. Larry Bradshaw (bass) and W. Bro. Ray Mason (baritone)
Bro. Norman Parker, P.Prov. G.Std.B., who was initiated on February 17th. 1950, is well worthy of mention. An ex-Royal Marine bandsman, he was a member of BBC orchestras for many years. He delighted us all many times at Ladies Evenings and concerts, with his percussion skills. Amongst his many talents he played xylophone and of course drums. One cannot ever think of the “Cuckoo Polka” without smiling and recalling Bro. Norman. He was awarded Provincial Honours in 1989, for his long standing contribution to music in the Province. Earlier, in recognition of the great esteem in which he was, and still is, held by the Lodge, he was presented with a Jewel inscribed “Provincial Grand Drummer”. This of course appealed to his great sense of humour. The Jewel was donated by one of our Honorary Members, W. Bro. Cliff Hadley. Asst. P.G.M.
Bro. Norman Parker
In later years we had Bro. Brian Sharp as our Lodge Organist. He demonstrated music keyboards all over the world e.g. Japan, Canada, USA, Spain etc., whilst working for Yamaha. He also worked at the BBC and was a trained piano player by the same teacher as Bro. Harold Rich. Then there was W. Bro. Eric Sinclair a trombone player who had his own Bavarian Band and joining member, W.Bro. Andy Peate a brass and Keyboard player who works as a professional musician together with W.Bro. John Nock another superb organist and keyboard player
Eric Sinclair, Larry Bradshaw and John Nock
Andy Peate – Current Lodge Organist & Director of Music
This is a shortened history of Mozart Lodge and a more comprehensive record can be supplied on request. It should be noted that the Lodge over the years has had many members who were musicians but this has never been a prerequisite to anyone wishing to join. Since it was formed in 1914 there has been many non musician members and if you just appreciate music come and join us. You will be made very welcome.
If you are interested in becoming a freemason, please send your details.