Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

About Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

One of the most adaptable and innovative of British orchestras, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) branched out into popular musical genres in the 1980s, set up its own record label, and subsequently developed an education in the community initiative. Dismissed by many at the time as mere gimmickry, the orchestra’s attempts to reach a wider audience proved subsequently to be ahead of its time. The RPO was founded in 1946 by Thomas Beecham, just 14 years after he had set up the London Philharmonic. A sell-out American tour in 1950 and a string of outstanding recordings for EMI/Warner, including Haydn’s “London” symphonies (rec. 1957-58), Delius’ Brigg Fair (rec. 1958), and two volumes of “lollipops” (Beecham’s term for orchestral miniatures), secured the RPO’s early reputation. Following Beecham’s death in 1961, the orchestra weathered several political storms (including an attempt to remove its “Royal” title) until, beginning in the mid-1980s, a succession of inspired music directors—including André Previn, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniele Gatti, Charles Dutoit, and (from 2021) Vasily Petrenko—restored the its fortunes. The RPO was renowned for its series of classical spectaculars at the Royal Albert Hall, but it wasn’t until 2004 that the orchestra found a permanent home in the radiant acoustics of London’s Cadogan Hall.

London, England

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