St Edwards College LiverpoolTeachers - Eugene Genin

Eugene Genin was a diminutive peripatetic music teacher, vividly remembered by many as the invisible driver of a large Armstrong Siddeley. As John Brown recalls - "In 1951 he was definitely driving an all black 2 door Armstrong Siddeley coupe - I think it was a Hurricane or a Typhoon - and it was noticeable by its the distinctive Sphinx bonnet mascot. It was a very stylish car and used to sail gracefully into Sandfield Park with the diminutive Eugene Genin hardly visible over the steering wheel."

Eugene's physical size did not prevent him being a huge figure in the Merseyside music scene as described in Joan E Wilson's history of the South Liverpool Rehearsal Orchestra, from which extracts are given below.

At the Philharmonic

The South Liverpool Rehearsal Orchestra grew out of the South Liverpool Symphony Orchestra founded in September 1976 by Bertha and Eugene Genin. For many years, the Genins had both been involved with Merseyside's musical life. Eugene worked as a peripatetic string instrument teacher in many schools, teaching violin, viola (his own principal instrument which he had played in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra), cello and double bass as well as taking private pupils at his own home. Each summer, the Genins ran a week's orchestral holiday in the Lake District held at the Hollins Hotel and known as the Grasmere Orchestra.
When Eugene was retired on grounds of age by Liverpool Education Authority, Bertha suggested that they should set up their own independent orchestra. Arrangements were made with La Sagesse R. C. Girls' High School, Aigburth Road, L19, for the proposed orchestra to meet in the School Hall on Tuesday evenings during term time. This location was very convenient for the Genins as they lived just around the corner in Mayfield Road.
Posters were put up advertising the formation of the new orchestra and instrumentalists already known to the Genins were contacted. Bill Jenkins, the Liverpool Education Authority Music Adviser and founder of the Merseyside Youth Orchestra, was invited to be leader (though he often preferred to play his cello), under Eugene's baton. Bertha and Eugene's sister, Winifred (member of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra), both played in the viola section; Catherine Byrne, the Genin' s only daughter, played the timps (her principal instruments being piano and oboe); son-in-law and one of Eugene's recent outstanding pupils, Leo Byrne, sat with Bill Jenkins and often took the lead, playing an instrument of his own making. Quite a family affair! One player recalls that on the first night the Orchestra met, all the violinists were lined up against the wall and called out in turn to take their seats where Eugene had decided. (I have absolutely no recollection of this. I was an unknown to the Genins, having moved into the district from elsewhere and in any case, I was too shocked by the sheer force of the Conductor's personality to know clearly what happened and to be able to remember! - Joan E Wilson) There were no auditions for the South Liverpool Symphony Orchestra but incompetence and lack of concentration were not welcome. Some players were indeed quite frightened of Eugene, feeling once again like school children incurring teacher's wrath! However, Mr. Genin, as all of the (non family) members felt obliged to call him, was always encouraging and loved to share his own enthusiasm for the repertoire. The Genins had a huge collection of orchestral music so there was always plenty of music to play. Quite rightly. Eugene guarded this great treasure trove of sheet music fiercely and woe betide anyone putting music on the floor or failing to return borrowed copies in time for Tuesday evening rehearsals! Some of the music was stamped thus: Matthay School of Music; Rose Lane; David Lewis Theatre; John Ross etc. Those stamps read like a potted history of defunct Liverpool amateur orchestras. Orchestral members paid a weekly subscription which included a cup of tea (organised by Bertha) during the interval and which provided the focus for social intercourse. Each summer, a public concert was held at La Sagesse, with Eugene standing raised up on the podium and resplendent in tails! The proceeds of the concert went to the School funds. In the early 1980's, Eugene Genin was awarded the MBE in recognition of his services to music in Liverpool. But 1983 was a watershed year. In early July, days after the successful summer concert in which Bertha played her harp most movingly, Eugene suddenly died. Leo Bryne bravely took over the baton at extremely short notice so that the Grasmere Orchestra (renamed the Rydal Orchestra) which many SLSO members attended and which had by then transferred to Rydal Hall, was able to proceed as planned at the end of July.

If anyone has any pictures of Eugene Genin, they would be much appreciated. Most of the above is taken from the history of the South Liverpool Rehearsal Orchestra Click to see the full version