Royal Albert Hall’s flagship event: Your guide to The Proms 2019
The Royal Albert Hall is one of Royal Garden Hotel’s most famous neighbours and you can see the distinctive Italianate architecture from many of the rooms. Despite hosting more than 350 events each year, it is the annual convening of The Proms that is the occasion everyone associates with the concert hall.
ORIGINS OF THE PROMS
While it’s hard to imagine The Proms being held anywhere other than the Royal Albert Hall, the event’s origins lie elsewhere. Back in the 18th century, promenade concerts were often held in the pleasure gardens of London, but by the 19th century they had headed indoors.
THE FOUNDER OF THE PROMS
Businessman Robert Newman decided it was time that concert hall music became available to the masses and in 1895 his promenade concerts were inaugurated. Held at the Queen’s Hall in Langham Palace, tickets were offered at a lower price and an informal atmosphere, where eating, drinking and smoking was allowed, welcomed everyone in.
THE FATHER OF THE PROMS
The person whose name remains the most synonymous with The Proms is Sir Henry Wood. He was appointed the sole conductor in the beginning and was responsible for convening the orchestra and designing the repertoire to be performed throughout the series. A bust of Wood sits in front of the organ during The Proms to this day.
ENTER THE BBC
After Newman went bankrupt and The Proms were saved by the music publishers Chappell & Co, they eventually ended up under the remit of the BBC. The corporation oversaw the event from 1927 until the outbreak of war in 1939.
THE PROMS AND WORLD WAR II
During the war, The Proms continued as private sponsors funded it and Wood continued to direct its operations. In May 1941, the Queen’s Hall was damaged irreversibly in an air raid and the event was moved to the Royal Albert Hall for the first time.
The Proms were held at the venue each summer until 1944, when it was considered too dangerous and moved to Bedford Corn Exchange instead. They remained there until the end of the conflict.
TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL
After the war, The Proms returned to the Royal Albert Hall where they have been held each year since. They have gone from strength to strength, welcoming international orchestras and introducing specially-commissioned music. The BBC is once again involved and Newman’s vision of bringing music to the masses is realised annually.
THE PROMS 2019
This year’s Proms officially start on 19 July, with a Classical Century series which concludes with new work that marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s mission to the moon. Then, throughout the summer there will be everything from Mozart Requiem to The Warner Brothers Story, Jonny Greenwood and Beethoven Night.
As well as the concerts, there are lots of talks and even exhibitions included in the schedule, meaning there is something to interest everyone. The Proms Family Chorus on 26 August will get even the youngest audience members singing and the Proms Children’s Press Conference on the same day will enable them to ask top musicians questions.
Highlights of The Last Night of Proms is on the 14 September will include orchestral dances and marches to songs and arias, Offenbach’s light-footed musical comedy to Verdi’s operatic tragedies. Jamie Barton, Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will lead the exciting musical celebrations.
To see the full schedule and to book seats, Click Here. Promming tickets offer a real sense of atmosphere and hark back to the origins of the event, as they mean you will be standing. 500 such tickets are sold on the door before each concert.
Image credit: Chris Christodoulou via the Royal Albert Hall