At the same time that Allan Macbeth was appointing Emma Ritter-Bondy as Professor of Piano, he was also casting his net wide to capture the emerging talent coming out of the most prestigious European schools.
Henri Verbrugghen was a recent graduate of the Brussels Conservatorium, where he studied under famed violin teachers Jenö Hubay and Eugène-Auguste Ysaÿe. A more or less stellar career immediately followed his graduation, including leading the Scottish Orchestra (forerunner of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra) and giving the UK première of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D-Minor.
In 1904 Verbrugghen was invited to join the professors at the Glasgow Athenaeum School of Music, becoming the de facto head of strings. It was to be the springboard that launched his teaching career, as in 1915 he was invited to become the founding principal of the Sydney Conservatorium – an invitation which he accepted. While there he almost accidentally founded the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and his contribution to Australian musical life is well commemorated. There is a Verbrugghen Street in Canberra, Australia’s capital, and the main concert hall of the Sydney Conservatorium is called the Verbrugghen Hall.
In addition to his legendary whiskers, Verbrugghen appears to have been a performer with ants in his pants. By 1922 he found himself the resident conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, and in 1933 he was appointed chair of the department of music at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota.
It all began for him in Glasgow, where his reputation not only as a virtuoso violinist but an educator and leader of considerable skill was established. There is no Verbrugghen Street in Glasgow.