28 January 1862 – 9 November 1903
Alfred E Rodewald was a Liverpool cotton merchant by profession but also a highly respected musician. He was the founder and conductor of the Liverpool Orchestral Society which became one of the leading orchestras in Britain. ‘Rodey ', as he was known, was born in Mossley Hill and, after his education at Charterhouse, returned to Liverpool to join, and later to head up, the family firm of cotton brokers. Rodewald was a very tall man with a dynamic personality and a great sense of humour . He was admired for his enthusiasm and energy in raising musical standards and knowledge in this City.
Rodewald was a friend of Hans Richter, the great Austrian conductor, who regarded him highly as a musician and conductor. He said of Rodewald: “He was an artist in living of the first order and a man of truly distinguished character. We shall scarcely see the like of him again”.
The orchestra and Rodewald himself were honoured in 1901 by the dedication to them by Edward Elgar of his Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, (the trio section of which became famous as ‘ Land of Hope and Glory'). Elgar called Rodewald , ‘My Best Friend', and the composer often stayed with him in Liverpool, Saughall , and Betws -y-coed.
Elgar, Richter and all Liverpool were stunned when Rodewald died suddenly in 1903, aged only 41. The Rodewald Concert Society (RCS) was formed in 1911 to help ensure that Rodewald would be remembered, - a man described as ‘the Apollo of our City', and ‘one with such a beautiful nature, so frank, so true, so inexpressively kind'.
After the refurbishment of the Philharmonic Hall in the 1990's and its extension, the new hospitality suite was also named after him. Sadly, this has now been demolished in the current extension of the Hall.
Leading up to its Centenary and as part of the celebrations for 2007/2008, the RCS established a Heritage Fund to help draw attention to its legacy and promote the name of Rodewald. This work has been considerably assisted by the creation of an archive at the Liverpool Record Office through a joint project with the RLPS funded by a Heritage Lottery Grant. The project, financed by donations to the RCS Heritage Fund, was the placing of a commemorative plaque on the wall of 66 Huskisson Street where Rodewald was living at the time of his death. The plaque was unveiled by the Society's late President, the famous pianist and composer John McCabe, who lived close to the Philharmonic Hall as a child and regularly attended RCS concerts.