Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) is a British orchestra based in London. It travels around to give concerts in many places.
The RPO was started just after World War II, in 1946, by the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham. Beecham did not start to get his players together until three weeks before the first concert which took place in Croydon on September 15, 1946. Beecham was principal conductor until his death in 1961.
When the orchestra toured the United States in 1950 they were the first British orchestra to visit America since the London Symphony Orchestra in 1912.
Beecham controlled all the organization of the orchestra. After Beecham’s death, the orchestra was made into a self-governing group, like the other London orchestras. They went through some difficult years. In 1963 the Royal Philharmonic Society decided they would stop asking the RPO to play for their concerts, and in Glyndebourne, where the RPO had played for the opera since 1948, the London Philharmonic Orchestra became the resident orchestra instead. Sir Malcolm Sargent helped the orchestra to put on its own concerts at a cinema in north London.
The orchestra had made an agreement with the Royal Philharmonic Society about the concerts it would play. This meant it could call itself “Royal”. In the 1960s the work they were doing no longer allowed them to call themselves “Royal”, so in 1966 the Queen officially gave them the title “Royal”.
In 1992 the orchestra appointed Peter Maxwell Davies as associate conductor and composer of the RPO.
On April 7, 1994, the Royal Philharmonic had the honour of performing at the Vatican in the historic "Papal Concert to Commemorate the Holocaust" with Sir Gilbert Levine.
The RPO give a series of concerts in the Cadogan Hall, London, and in the Royal Albert Hall. They tour all over Britain and also abroad. In the period 2002-2007 they played in 30 different countries.
The orchestra made many recordings with Sir Thomas Beecham. In 1964 Igor Stravinsky recorded his opera "The Rake's Progress" with the RPO. From 1964 to 1979 they recorded many Gilbert and Sullivan operas with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.
The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra is part of the same organization. They spend their time playing lighter classical music. The RPO have also worked with pop music groups and has given its own series of children’s concerts. In 2007 they announced a series of free educational workshops for the local community.
- Thomas Beecham (1946-1961)
- Rudolf Kempe (1962-1975)
- Antal Doráti (1975-1978)
- Walter Weller (1980-1985)
- André Previn (1985-1992)
- Vladimir Ashkenazy (1987-1994)
- Yuri Temirkanov (1992-1998)
- Daniele Gatti (1996-2009)
- Charles Dutoit (2009-present)
- Royal Philharmonic Orchestra official website